what exactly is a mangle for?

Hey all,

Is a mangle used for pressing other fabrics than linen?  I have 16 yards of fine silk yardage to press, and a friend has offered to let me use her mangle, but I'm terrified that it will (ahem) mangle the fabric, since it's quite fine (60/2 silk warp with 120/2 silk weft).  I'm also not sure that it will work without heat applied to the fiber.

Thoughts?  I am completely ignorant on the subject of mangles, and would appreciate enlightenment.



Posted on Wed, 11/04/2009 - 23:48

A mangle is a great tool for applying a hard compression on any textile that needs it.

I've mangled everything from silk to Tencel, cotton to wool.  Generally it's much faster than doing a compression with a hand iron.  You may still want to polish the fabric if the shine still isn't as much as you'd like to see, but I'm a big fan of cold mangles, not just for linen.  :)

You don't need a big machine - a rolling pin can work (I show this on CD Weaver III - in the section on wet finishing - in a video clip).  http://LauraFry.artfire.com



Posted on Wed, 11/04/2009 - 23:52

Tien, you are too young to remember a mangle. A mangle is a set of pressure rollers that you run your cloth through to remove the excess water after washing. You can use a mangle on any cloth, even wool. Now are you talking about "finish pressing" if you are them I can not give you an answer? Who is the lady that lives near you that works in silk, can you talk to her?



Posted on Thu, 11/05/2009 - 00:22

Hi there!
We have a mangle at school that we use in our fibers dept. We use it to heat set pigments that have been screen printed on fabrics as well as iron flat weaving yardage. So there is heat applied to the fabric.
Ours is a set of rollers that you feed the cloth through between two flannel pieces of fabric. Essentially, it's like a big rolling iron that you wind your fabric onto and the machine irons it out. The heat is not applied directly to the fabric.  This way just in case something is going to singe, it will not be your fabric it will just be the flannel sheets. I have not worked with silk myself, but going by what Laura has said above, it sounds like mangling silk is not an issue. It is a bit of a daunting name for a piece of equipment that handles fabric though.

Posted on Thu, 11/05/2009 - 01:47

 I also use a cold mangle - both hand operated with a dowl and the carved mangle board and an electric Swedish mangle that uses aluminum rollers that put nearly 800 pounds of pressure on the cloth - and has a pure linen "mangle cloth"
 of about 2 yards long to encase the fabric as it is fed in so it is not up against the metal rollers.

This is a European device used for centuries to compress linen and other fabrics. Linen will only show its lovely sheen when flattened - that is, the yarns are no longer round, but flat and refract light more completely. Linen damask MUST be mangled to bring back its true beauty. Klassbols linen mill in Sweden recommends that customers also invest in the same mangle that I own (Becky Ashenden of vavstuga.com sells them for US current) to keep their expensive tablecloths looking nice.

I generally mangle all freshly woven fabric to get the yarns to conform to the intersections in the fabric - unless there is a texture that needs to be preserved. It does a beautiful job on silk (I wove a silk damask jacket a few years ago ad the yardage really bloomed after mangling), wool (does a bang up job of hard pressing felted yardage) and cotton.

All other definitions of mangle - the rubber washer wringer to remove moisture, the ironrite heated padded ironer - especially devices with heat or steam are not meant here.

Posted on Thu, 11/05/2009 - 10:19

Here is an article I wrote some years ago. Modern mangles tend to be a lot smaller :-)

Like several other posters I like to mangle most of what I weave, as a part of the finishing. There are a few things to consider, though.

How wet (moist) should the fabric be? If it is totally dried out, not much will happen. OTOH, if linen is too wet, it can feel very paper-like when it has dried. Then again, I prefer to mangle wool fabric when it is on the wet side... The good thing is: if you don't like the result, wet the article through again, and start over. 

How wide is the fabric, compared to the mangle? If it has to be folded, there are going to be sharp folds in the mangled fabric (which is why several books on Goof Housekeeping recommend to always mangle linen tablecloths with different folding patterns every time, the fibres can break if the sharp folds always fall on the same place). If you mangle a linen cloth for maximum sheen, you can never hope to be able to iron out the fold (until after the next wash). Also, remember - if there are thick parts (hems, for instance), they will make marks in the next few layers, ewven if there is a protecting "mangle sheet". However, I had a length of woollen fabric which I mangled just a few "turns", took it off and re-folded, gave it a few turns again, re-folded... When it was nice and flat (but still moist) I pressed out the fold marks with a heavy iron and hot steam.

I have mangled many meters of commercial bourette silk fabric, and it was *much* nicer to work with after mangling!

Posted on Thu, 11/05/2009 - 12:30

Laura, I was going to tell Tina to ask you about "finishing" silk. Lots of good information on mangles. Great job guys.


Posted on Thu, 11/05/2009 - 14:59

Hi Tien,

If it's an old Ironrite or the like, I'd think twice before you put your silk thru - not that it wouldn't work, i'd worry about oil stains. It's an old machine, and lubed by oil, that can drip. (speaking from experience!)


Posted on Thu, 11/05/2009 - 19:27

I grew up in a household that had two mangles, one a gas fired one and one electric.  I think what Michael means by cold mangle is what we used to call a wringer; it attaches to the side of the laundry tubs and is used to squeeze excess water out of the fabric. They were also used by older siblings and cousins to scare the youngers....anyone else out there get their little fingers caught while some else cranked a little too fast? 

If I had room for a mangle now, I'd surely own one, the amount of work saved is a terrific thing. Not to mention how lovely bed linens are, when they've been run through.

Honest to God, I'm not as old as I seem, just fortunate enough to have been raised by a grandmother who was one of the last victorian dowagers.



Posted on Thu, 11/05/2009 - 20:21

Well I remember both types from my childhood. The one on the wash-tub was not called anything to do with mangling, it just wrenched water out of the laundry, as you say ,and was turned with a handle.

The real Mangle was a huge contraption with two big wooden rollers also turned with a big old handle and was used to "mangle" especially tablecloths, and also bedlinen and the like. As far as I remember it had some heavy stone/rock somewhere in the construction to give the pressure power. And children were strictly forbidden to play around  with it.. It stood in my grandparents loft.

In the old days, things were mangled by rolling the cloth round a stick and then rolling this back and forth on a surface probably the kitchen table with a "mangling board", a flat, wooden board with a handle on top, often hand carved by the young man and given to his fiancee as a gift before the wedding. This was a bit of Danish history :-)


Posted on Fri, 11/06/2009 - 01:07

Thanks everyone!  I'm heading out to see the mangle in a week or two with my fabric sample in hand...if that works, I plan to check VERY CAREFULLY for oil (thanks for the warning!) and then try my 2-yard "extra" piiece with it.  And if that works, only THEN go to pressing my yardage...

I did go to see a dry cleaner's about getting a hard press on the fabric.  It turns out that it won't work for what I'm doing; they couldn't polish up the silk the way that multiple presses with an iron (moving it back and forth on the fabric) seems to do.  Too bad - it would really have been nice to take a shortcut!

Now, to try the mangle...!


Posted on Fri, 11/06/2009 - 07:56

Re thr roller-and-board type:

a couple of years ago I was at a demo of "the old way to...". There was this woman doing just that: rolling back and forth with the help of the board, putting pressure on it. Suddenly, an old woman in the audience was heard, saying: why are you doing it that way? It is MUCH BETTER just to roll in ONE direction - then slide the thing back towards you, roll "away" again! In my time, that was how we did it, always!

... when you think about it, it makes perfect sense: if rolling back and forth (like my big mangle does...) will gradually loosen the roll, and potentially introduce wrinkles. If, on the other hand, the package is only rolled in the same direction as the cloth is wound on the roller, it will rather tighten the roll. (And no, my mother had never heard that, either. As haven't most of my other mangling friends. But it does work!)


Posted on Sat, 11/07/2009 - 01:51

 Funny,now that you mention it, I use my hand mangle the way you mention - rolling it away from me in one direction, bringing it back and repeating. It just felt like a good way to do it when I first started doing it.

Posted on Sat, 11/07/2009 - 17:54

Well - I wasn't ;-) The fact is, *all* demo'ers I have seen have been rolling back and forth. And so did I, until I met that little old lady...