Martha Stewart Living Radio: The Radio Blog

12 Minutes of Ironing with Chris Ely

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How long does it take you to iron a shirt? 3 minutes? Maybe 7 if you're really trying to look sharp? For Chris Ely, dean of the Estate Management Studies Program at The French Culinary Institute, it takes about 12 minutes per shirt... yes, you read correctly, 12 minutes. Mr. Ely, a former footman at Buckingham Palace and the former butler to philanthropist Brooke Astor, joined The FCI in 2010 to help design the new progam which is aimed at priming the modern day butler. Through a rigorous curriculum based upon Mr. Ely's expertise, the Estate Management Studies Program consists of classes on household cleaning and organization, laundry essentials, and culinary essentials.

With his ironing board in hand, Mr. Ely joined us on "Living Today" this afternoon to share his thoughts on the art (or sometimes arduous task) of ironing.  To give you an idea of the importance Mr. Ely places on this paticular household task, the laundry essentials class at The FCI is five days long-- two of those five days are dedicated solely to ironing. We wanted to see what all this 12 minutes of ironing nonsense was all about. So prior to today's segment, Mr. Ely showed off his skills and provided some helpful tips. Photos are below.

  • It is the steam, not the heat of the iron, that causes the fabric to relax.
  • Pull the fabric toward you as you iron. You don’t need to press hard – simply pull the iron across the fabric.
  • A teflon ironing board is best for a smooth and clean surface and so it doesn’t absorb the steam.
  • Make sure the ironing board is clean, as is the floor beneath the board.
  • Try to arrange your power cord so it doesn’t drag across the fabric. Coming from above is good.
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Lie the button placket down on top of a towel and iron the inside, to protect your buttons as well as your iron.

1 Lie the button placket down on top of a towel and iron the inside, to protect your buttons as well as your iron.

Mr. Ely recommends ironing  the back of the collar first.

2 Mr. Ely recommends ironing the back of the collar first.

Use a sleeve press if you have one. Make sure the seams are lying flat.

3 Use a sleeve press if you have one. Make sure the seams are lying flat.

Use the feel of your hand to make sure the fabric is smooth.

4 Use the feel of your hand to make sure the fabric is smooth.

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