National Clothesline
National Clothesline
A short and simple list for Santa
So here it is again, the holiday season. No banter about how quickly the year went by, even though I can barely comprehend that it’s December 2013 already.
I enjoy writing this “Christmas Wish List” column and it is with equal parts excitement and flattery that I see several of the abstracts that I’ve envisioned become reality.
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Some of my wishes have been complicated and perhaps a bit far-fetched, but I think that in all cases, my ideas are intended to enhance the product, service or experience of being in the business of washing and pressing shirts.
I still hope that some of my past wishes come true. When you write Santa Claus with your list of “gotta-haves,” it is a list of things that you want at that moment, but in my case the things that I have had on my wish list in past December columns are things that I still want for the benefit of this industry.
So don’t be afraid to pull up archives of my December columns (on my website or on this publication’s website). Here is an index of Wish Lists on the Tailwind site.
I noticed a pattern many decades ago. If I asked Santa for something really big (like I did in last year’s column), I may get passed over, so I am asking for small things this year. Still, Unipress President Gary Johnson told me a year ago that he really liked one of my ideas. I’m waiting eagerly. The Clean Show is only 18 months away!
OK, here we go.
Dear Santa,
Look at the shirt in the two photos. It’s easy to see that the collar buttons are pulling on the fabric in an unnatural way.
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When a button is replaced, it really needs to be reattached at the right spot. There is some wiggle room when it comes to the neck button. You can loosen a collar by moving it to the end of the collar band, but you will make a mistake if you reattach the button in the wrong place so that the collar is now too tight when the shirt is worn.
It is always safest to reattach a button at the same place as the one that you’re replacing. Some shirt launderers cheat. They skip the step of removing the thread from the old button and sew a button next to the spot that it should be.
A cuff button resewn at the wrong place can be unsightly (see my June 2013 column for a “Banned in Boston” obscene photo of this), but the average customer probably won’t notice.
In the case of the buttons in the pictures, placing the button at the wrong place will make you look unprofessional and the wearer look a bit goofy.
The tricky part here is that if the fabric shrinks or relaxes, even just a bit, replacing the button at the same place as the old one may still result in a look similar to the picture, though not as extreme.
It’s even worse when the shirt is starched because the fabric doesn’t fold as readily.
What I wish for is some sort of template that makes it easy to get the button at the right place. Something foolproof.
I think that it should be a heavy-stock paper guide. Perhaps there is a tab that you fold up and insert into the buttonhole.
This would align the template that has a drawing of a shirt button on it. It somehow aligns the button with the buttonhole. Now you simply place a button over the template drawing and sew through the paper.
With the button now sewn onto the shirt at the exact right spot, you simply tear away the paper template. Voila!
Now when you compare this wish with what I wished for last year (and still do), you’ll know how easy this is by comparison. Someone needs to take the time to make this!
I wish for a permanent end of and replacement for equipment pedals on the floor. There are some machines that have the foot pedals attached to a floor-level part of the machine.
There are also push buttons, kick switches and knee switches. But the foot pedals are still around and are very annoying.
Invariably, they move under a part of the machine, they get wet and they take a beating. They also tend to move around and screwing them to the floor doesn’t last.
I’m not really sure if wishing for something not to exist counts as a wish, so to be clear I wish for something that replaces foot pedals on shirt equipment.
Still too vague, huh? (I’m surely gonna get fired from this gig, if I remain this vague).
Lastly, I want a portable sewing machine for sewing buttons.
Typically, shirts that need buttons are put aside to be done later. This is not a policy that I endorse by any stretch of the imagination, but it happens and usually this policy develops because the sewing machine isn’t reliable and is generally problematic.
When a sewing machine is located at the right place and works perfectly, button replacement isn’t a chore and takes place as routinely as any other procedure.
I want a small, handheld gadget that is perhaps tethered to the inspector’s belt. When a missing or broken button is spotted, the inspector reaches for the button machine and, in five seconds flat, the button is replaced.
Listen Santa, I’m far too old and big for that mini-bike, but just fork these visions over and I’ll call us square. Whadaya say?

“If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got!”

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Don Desrosiers has been in the drycleaning and shirt laundering
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