I’ll press a suit when it comes back from having an alteration, or before a client tries it on if it’s been on the rail for a while. You always start with the inside first and then do the outside, as it’s easier to create creases on the outside.
I begin with the lapel, laying it out flat on the board. The steam and temperature are set so the only thing you have to worry about is the time and pressure. Thinner cloths need less of both – if you apply too much it can bubble up, particularly towards the bottom seam. You get a feeling for how much is needed very quickly though; it’s quite instinctive.
After the lapels you move the coat across the board, doing the lining on the forepart and then on the back. The centre of the back can be tricky because of the pleat running from the collar. It’s important to get that crease sharp and the area around the loop perfect, as this is the part the client sees first.
Once the inside is finished, I turn the coat round and do the outside. The underside of the lapel is done first, and then turned over to press the fold flat – but only at the top; the bottom where it approaches the buttons is left unpressed, as Anderson & Sheppard suits deliberately have a soft roll here.
The rest of the back is relatively straightforward, but the sleeves are trickier. You turn the board around so that the smaller end is on your left and can fit into the shoulder. The large end might be used for a customer with a large shoulder, but they’d have to be pretty big.
You then pull down hard with your right hand, tautening the cloth, and press up into the top of the sleeve. This creates a nice clean finish to the sleeve.
Velvet is one cloth you don’t press like this. Instead you steam and brush velvet, holding the iron just above the surface and ejecting some steam onto it, before brushing it down in the direction of the nap.