Thursday, May 10, 2007


"I had a passion for ironing and I was given the handkerchiefs to do. (...) For a handkerchief to be ironed perfectly, it had to remain rigid, in its folds, when one took it up. I think the art of ironing as it was done in Paris in those days has quite disappeared. Nobody today realizes what sorcery these women had in their fingers, how their irons ran and beat and curved with a speed and a deftness that came from secrets handed down and hours and hours of practice. What miracles one can do with heavy old-fashioned irons heated on coals or on the gasring! Pleats form themselves magically all down nightgowns or lingerie, blouses stand up like living things! To sew quickly and deftly (with a thimble) and to iron like these Paris women used to are the loveliest gifts that a woman can have."

Henrey, Madeleine (1951), Seamstress and Marketwoman: Working Women in Early Twentieth-Century Paris, in Classen, Constance (ed), The Book of Touch, Berg, Oxford, New York 2005, p. 246


Blogger Arielle said...

This type of ironing I saw in South India. Now and then, we would bring a pile of clothes to this little dark room at the back of a shop and they would be perfectly ironed in no time by a team of bare chested men (It was very hot in there!).

I did try to iron some things myself, but got an electric shock from a faulty iron and decided to leave it to the professionals!

9:41 am  

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