From my desk here, perhaps hundreds or thousands of miles from your shirt unit, it is my job to help you improve the quality of your shirts and to increase your profitability.  That isn’t always an easy task.  But today, I’d like to talk about two really bad things that may be happening from time to time.  Knowledge of this will go a long way towards eliminating the problem.

  1. What is the most ugly pressing error that you can do on a shirt?
  2. What part of a shirt is most often over-looked by an inspector?

When I had my big wholesale plant years ago, a very ugly pressing error came to light and it happened to be on one of my own shirts.  I was not happy.  I called a meeting of the inspection staff to discuss this with them.  I remember using push-pins to display my shirt on the bulletin board in the meeting room.  I was pretty lucky at that particular time.  I had an inspection staff that was dedicated and concerned.  They readily agreed to address my problem du jour.  Minutes later, at their job stations, my inspectors whined about this problem area.  The pressers needed to be re-trained and supervised.  The problem area was more “common” than I thought.  I still was not happy.

It turns out that the ugliest thing that you can do to a shirt is the same thing that is most often overlooked!  But it gets worse.  It is also the easiest error for a customer to see as they put a shirt on.  No, it isn’t the collar.  I am talking about the cuffs.  If the pressing of the cuffs is sub-standard, then the customer cannot avoid seeing it as they button the cuffs.  The wrinkles can be felt with the fingertips.  It just may be that even a blind man can see poor pressing on the cuffs!

I must tell you that the guy that does my shirts is a class-act.  Geographically, he is the client that is closest to my home.  I really don’t go to him because he is my client though; I go to him because he happens to be a very good drycleaner and a really nice man.  He takes good care of me.

This morning was just another day on the road for me.  I had a shirt, folded in my suitcase as I was dressing this day.  I thought nothing of it when I unfolded it and put it on.  Don’t you know, there were some of those terrible wrinkles in both of the cuffs.  It is very true that this is one of those shirts that are not the easiest to press.  But this morning, I was a customer.  Certainly, the average customer isn’t going to know that this broadcloth shirt is more of a challenge that any other.  Because I do, I did have some, uh… professional sympathy for my drycleaner, but I am a professional and my business is shirts.  I feel that I should have a very sharp looking shirt when I am with a client.

Seeing those very ugly wrinkles this morning brought back those memories from years ago.  I had professional sympathy for my cleaner because I know how easy it is for an inspector to miss this.  But I also remembered how a customer chewed me out for wrinkles in the cuffs of his shirt.  I remember a particular customer saying that he hated the pressing on his cuff so much, that he was too embarrassed to look at his watch.  Today, I understand what he meant.


They say that if you aren’t part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.  I choose not to have that moniker, thank you.  With that, I offer a solution.  If my solution is simply to tell your inspector to “Watch the cuffs!”, we will get fair results, at best.  That is hardly a “solution” anyway.  It happens that certain cuffs are very difficult to press because the layers of fabric are not fused together and will shrink and relax at different rates.  This breeds a presser’s nightmare.  The presser may attempt to stretch the cuff – or snap it – but the end result may still be a cuff with wrinkles in it.  If the presser realizes that the cuffs don’t come out right, even when he/she attempts to prevent it, the theoretical eventuality is that they will simply stop trying to prevent it.  So, since it is our intention to do a good job, we must have a plan to combat this.  I think, and that means that I am honestly not sure, that if you press a problematic cuff correctly once, it is easier to press correctly the next time, even after washing.  Said in an other way, if you press in some very ugly wrinkles, it will be impossible to fix on a conventional collar & cuff press.  There is a way to fix it, but before fixing it, you must get your inspector in the habit of seeing it.  Look at the photo above.  The inspector must look at this part of the shirt in order to do a good job because there are 2-6 buttons here (for one thing).  The inspector feels confident that he or she is checking the cuffs because of the motion depicted in this photo.  The problem is that the inspector is seeing the inside of the cuffs.  If the pressing is perfectly smooth on the inside, then the pressing of the outside of the cuffs is probably also perfect.  The problem is that the pressing on the inside is often offensive, while the outside looks fine.  Any inspector quickly learns this.  This means one simple thing to you:  In spite of the inspector “going through the motions,” the cuffs are not being inspected!  You could train the inspector to lift the cuffs to see the reverse side, but I fear that this will be a difficult habit to get into.  The right way, is to train the inspector to hold the cuffs in such a way that the inspector’s fingertips are touching the outside surface of the cuffs.  The sensitive fingertips will “see” wrinkles that even the eyes can not.  This is similar to the blind man that “sees” the wrinkles on his cuffs because he feels them with his fingers when he buttons the cuffs.  This is a surprisingly easy habit to adopt.  As the inspector visually inspects the rest of the shirt, he/she takes one cuff in each hand.  As he/she brings the cuffs up closer to his/her eyes, the inspector’s fingers gently touch the outer side of the cuff.  A properly pressed cuff is as smooth as glass.

What do you do when you’ve found a poorly pressed cuff?  It takes an extra pair of hands.  Sorry.  There is a way to do it by yourself, but it isn’t a safe procedure.  I don’t want to pass it along for fear that some one will surely get hurt doing it.  It takes two people to quickly fix a bad cuff properly, but take comfort in the fact that when the shirt comes back next week, it will probably not be an issue.

To fix it, you need 4 hands and a hot head mushroom topper.  Working on the butt end of the press, one person sprays water on the cuff, (a light mist on both sides of the cuff) stretches the cuff and holds it stretched, over the butt end of the press.  With the fingers out of the way, the other person closes the press.  This can be dangerous, so be extra careful.