Ironing Monograms

While perhaps viewed as remnants of a bygone era, few household items are more elegant and luxurious than monogrammed linens. If you are lucky enough to have inherited some heirloom monogrammed pieces, I encourage you to use them! But if, like me, you didn’t inherit such works of art, take heart. They can be easily found at estate sales, antique shops, and of course, online. They can also be purchased new. Knowing how to iron these beautiful pieces is key to making them look their best.

There are only a few essential supplies: a spray bottle filled with water, spray starch (if desired), a clean fluffy towel, and a hot iron.

Using a spray bottle filled with water, dampen your fabric evenly and thoroughly. You definitely don’t want it dripping wet, but it should be damp enough to produce some steam when ironed.

Fold your items loosely and let sit for at least 15 minutes. This step is crucial to getting a nice smooth finish. Letting the fabric rest allows the fibers of the fabric to absorb the moisture and relax before ironing. This also applies to cotton and linen clothing, so don’t forget this step if you want a crisp finish.

Then set your iron on a high setting. (Usually the settings for cotton or linen work well, but know your iron. Some irons run significantly hotter than others and you don’t want to scorch the material.) Lay your monogram face down on a clean terry cloth towel. I like to use a bit of spray starch at this point, but it is not necessary, just a personal preference. Begin ironing on the backside of the monogram.

Sometimes the fabric shrinks up around the monogram after washing, so you may need to pull the fabric taut to help it lie flat. Pressing the monogram into the plush terry cloth allows the monogram to gain dimension and “pop up” from the background fabric.

Once it is smooth, flip the fabric over and iron the other side, being careful to avoid ironing on top of the monogram.Take the pointed part of the iron and get as close to the monogram as possible without actually touching the monogram.

I used the same technique on this delicate embroidered runner. Ironing the floral design face down on a thick towel makes the needlework “pop up” and creates dimension.

This also works for dimensional embroidered items where you want the design to stand out.  I used this technique on this beautiful embroidered runner and the flowers nearly leapt off the background!

Heirloom linens are sturdy and can be used regularly. Knowing how to iron them properly is essential to bringing out their beauty. This technique will enhance the appearance of your linens and keep them looking sharp for years to come.

2 thoughts on “Ironing Monograms

  1. Everything in your blogs looks good enough to eat — including the monogrammed napkins and the bottle of spray starch! I have some Irish linen (no monograms but some design.) One of the tablecloths — no raised fabric at all — has an unfinished hem. Perhaps that was normal a century ago, when the item may have been ordered, then finished to fit the particular table.

    I did inherit a set of sterling flatware — quite formidable, with my maiden initial on all the pieces. Since I used my married name, however, I decided to give the set to my brother (then single) who was overseas in the Foreign Service and often threw dinner parties for the local “dignitaries.”

    I missed class today because the renovation crew has descended. In preparing for their onslaught, I re-discovered that I have accumulated much too much “stuff.” I thought I might get away without emptying the uppermost shelves, but I was told today that all the cupboards would be thoroughly cleaned afterwards, so tonight I will be reassembling a few more storage boxes to fill.

    The kitchen is underway as I type. They’re cutting down to size the counter between it and the living room , so I will no longer be able to hide my culinary messes. Hope I’m back on the dance floor soon.

    Thanks for another interesting blog.



  2. What a lucky brother to have been gifted such a lovely (and valuable) family heirloom! I actually believe that the monogram initials are fairly unimportant. Of course, it’s great if the initials are yours, but I can usually justify purchases of seemingly irrelevant monograms by connecting the initials to some long lost family member! Good luck with your kitchen renovation. May it be finished quickly.

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