Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ironing Vintage Linen Napkins With A Miele Rotary Iron

It's January, and there are things to do.  It's not spring, but I can't wait for spring cleaning.   I have a lot of linen that needs to be laundered after the holidays and all those dinners.

There's more.
 What can I say, I love monograms.  Check out the intricate design below!
 This M is a fabulous French Victorian monogram.  To die for.
 The varieties of script are endless!

Our holidays center around traditional dinners with everyone seated.  Using luxurious linen damask napkins only enhances that experience.  What's not to love about beautiful linen, sterling, crystal and fine china.  I especially like the older kids (in their 20's)  teaching the teenagers some table manners.  I always enlist the younger ones to set the table--it is a good experience for them.   The experience sure beats paper napkins!

When you have a big family (I am one of 7 children), holiday events can be quite a strain on the napkin department.   If you think about 32 people spending two days at your house, you need at least 2 meals a day x 32 = 64 napkins x 2 days = 128 napkins.  Oh my, that's 10 dozen napkins you can go through in one weekend.  It is pretty easy to add meals, like a friday night, etc.

That could be a problem for some people, but not for me.  I have hundreds of napkins.  I found myself spending a lot of time ironing napkins.

I don't have a maid.  I don't hire people to clean my house.   Even when I was working 70 hours a week I took pride in doing it all myself.  All 5400 square feet.  I  grew up with my mother cleaning houses and taking in ironing to make enough money to send us all to private school.  She grew up in Germany during the war and as part of their high school, she apprenticed in a mansion for 2 years.  She is the girl on the right in an apron.  How cute!
She would take in ironing and would get up at at 4 or 5 AM to  do the ironing before we all got up.  As a result, I think that is why I don't mind ironing.  It is quiet relaxation if you choose to look at it that way.

Well, my husband decided to surprise me on Valentines Day with a present that would upset most women, but not me!   He gave me a Miele Rotary iron.  It really is just a mangle, only without all that weight and rust.    This isn't just any iron!  This is my dream iron.  It takes a lot of time to press all those napkins, sheets, and tablecloths.  It is frustrating to iron on an ironing board and have marks the width of the ironing board.

In fact, I don't need as many napkins.  I could launder them one evening for the next, but I am busy visiting with my company.  I did have my 13 year old niece help iron a tablecloth.  She was quite impressed with my iron!

I've had it for a few years and can offer some tips on using it.  The biggest problem is created by running something wet through it.  That causes the rotary cover to wrinkle and bag.  I've talked to Meile about this and they say to take the cover off and wash it, put it back on and tie it.  Well, I am not a boyscout.   I don't know how to make knots on the side that stay in place perfectly, and then it continues to bag.   So I've come up with my own solution.   

 Below is what happens to the cover if the linen is too wet.  Put your dryer setting on damp dry and that will yield the best results.
 I just stitched the bottom edge to the roller and now it doesn't bag.  If I put an undried piece of linen it will bag again.  That causes creases in the item.

Check out the results below.  Putting in a damp napkin has it coming out amazingly flat and perfect.   I usually run them through twice.

 They are so stiff it seems like they are starched.  I know that experts tell you not to store your linen ironed because it makes them brittle, but I don't really care.  I like to use what I have.
Isn't this damask pattern pretty!   I love ones with circular designs.

When it comes to monograms, I do run them through the rotary iron.  Some of them require monogram touch-up on the ironing board in order to get them to really stand out (you know, ironed on a fluffy towel.)

Don't be afraid to use your damask napkins  regularly.  It will only enhance the experience of a sit down dinner.  Think of  all the trouble you have gone to in preparing your meal.  Why not serve it like a fancy restaurant does?   You can skip the tablecloth and go for simple placemats, they always look great when adding a damask napkin to the picture.

I felt like Martha Stewart, until I read about her laundry room at Skylands here:

She has a couple of mangles.
 These are drying racks that actually blow air through them.  The poles slide into the cabinet
 I love this ironing table.  The cord needs to come from the ceiling though.
 OK, now I'm really jealous.  She has something called a flatwork finisher.

Ok, I won't be achieving this, but I love my rotary iron!

Read about my use of antique tablecloths at my daughter's wedding here.


  1. I am not sure where to begin: first let me say, I love monogram linens and your collection is divine! And the Meile seems like the ultimate gift for anyone who loves linens as you do! Your mom's picture is so sweet and I just love that story! And finally, your daughter's wedding was gorgeous! Valentines Day and my birthday is right around the corner, I wonder if I could talk my husband into a Meile? :)

  2. Boy would I love to have one of those! I remember the old fashioned mangle my mother was the size of a house!

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