Period Dress – Wet Finish & Hard Press

Yes, I have finished the next step. I would be, should be shouting but my feet hurt too much for that. My new slippers are definitely warm but not great for standing for hours on a wooden floor pressing handwoven cloth. One day I will forget all this trouble but when I go back through this record, I know I will appreciate my dress once more for the time in it.

So once you take the cloth off the loom, it is time to give it a good wash and press. It did seem like so much when it was one long piece of cloth. But I cut it up in its component parts and zigzagged the ends and then threw them in the wash. Much easier done today than with my first cloth that I was scared of what would happen to it in that whirling machine.

Washed and ready to press

Washed and ready to press

This next step I’m sure we would all like to skip or else have a huge mangle in our homes to make it easier. But once the cloth is washed it is best to then hard press it 3 times. Side one, side two, and back to side one. This isn’t ironing at all. But set the iron on a spot hold down hard for 15 seconds and move over and repeat over the whole piece. But when you look at a piece as in the above picture, you know it can look better so you have at it.

Skirt panel all pressed

Top not pressed bottom pressed

Not as evident as in real life but the first picture and the top piece in second is wrinkly, threads still spaced out and rough looking. Once the pressing is done as in bottom cloth in the second pictures, the threads are all mashed together (proper weaving terminology) and compressed and a piece of cloth becomes one as opposed to many parts. I’m sure there is an object lesson in there somewhere if I take time to think.

Comparing pressed and unpressed

Comparing pressed and unpressed

Once again the top left is not pressed but the middle and right are. Don’t you love how the fold of the right one is so crisp compared to the unpressed one? This will remind me the next time I get a big project in my head that it really is worth the trouble.

So what does one do when pressing and pressing and pressing … and then pressing some more? For this project it worked out well that I had bought the DVD for Milltown Pride. It is a film put out by Unusual Films of Bob Jones University which is where I went to college. Now it was very apropos that I had it as the story takes place in the 1920s South around a textile mill. So as I was pressing my cloth, it was great to watch for the bails of cotton, seeing the weaving room and thinking, “that sure looks like a picture I’ve seen from Lowell, Massachusetts.” Hmmm…

Then a great bit about this DVD (for a project like this) is that it came with lots of extras on the disc so I got to learn quite about the making of the film as well as the period sites and remnants of the textile industry around upstate South Carolina and north Georgia (film sites used). And yes the weaving room was filmed at Lowell, Massachusetts. But then comes  that extra bit of knowing where a film is from –  it was great to see people I know in it. In fact one of the actors I went to elementary school with and haven’t seen since.

Finished stack with the film in the background

Finished stack with the film in the background

So the film extras lasted just about to the end of the cloth. And now with it folded and stacked – boy it sure doesn’t look like there is much there and definitely not enough for all the standing, sore feet, and pressing that I did.

Categories: Weaving | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Period Dress – Wet Finish & Hard Press

  1. I just pressed some of my weavings, too, though much smaller ones than yours. I have to agree, it’s worth the effort.


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