a question of irons....

Hey folks.  I just got a great question from a reader.

Maria writes:

Hello Brain,

I am very impressed with your site and now a new follower.

With all the sewing you do, what is your favorite iron?  I am not pleased with the one I have (there have been many). Steam is either messy or not enough, sometimes the irons either get to hot or not hot enough. What are your thoughts?

Thank you,

Hi Maria!

Well I think you're not alone in your quest for the perfect iron.  As people who sew I feel we have different requirements for an iron than the average laundry maid.  My trusty Shark brand iron purchased from Target finally bit the dust last year.  I had used it so much that the paint had been worn through on the handle and it had a few hot glue repairs.

The features that matter to me as someone who sews are as follows:

  • Long cord
    • And forget that retractable business, that just breaks and is bulky.  Plus I never ever put my iron away.
  • No digital controls (just give me a standard dial folks)
    • I almost never change my settings, I always keep the iron set for Wool which allows me to iron everything and not worry about melting my polyester thread.
  • Good burst of steam button
    • This is essential for the sewist.  I need precise control of the steam in order to manipulate the fabric.  I want to be able to give the button micro pushes for little tiny bits of steam.  A perfect burst of steam would only come out the holes at the tip giving absolute control but that's hard to find.
  • Steams successfully at the lower temp of Wool
    • This is HUGE.  If you look at the dial they never say steam is available at the wool setting however some irons will steam at the lower temp anyway.  Like mentioned before I only use the lower temp (unless I'm ironing linen or something) so the steam has to work at the lower temp.
  • Stainless steel plate or very durable non-stick
    • Those early or cheap non-stuck coatings on irons were/are horrific.  Iron over a button and your coating scratches right off.  I like stainless steel but it's not quite as smooth as a coated surface.  Therefore I tend to lean towards the durable non-stick.
  • Advanced auto-off features
    • I never turn my iron off or unplug it unless it's leaving the building.  I want an iron that heats fast and also turns off fast.  Often I leave the iron plate side down on the table and walk away.  Because it's on a low heat setting it's no problem, my iron also senses that it's plate down and not being moved and shuts off within seconds.  I've become accustomed to the iron taking 30 seconds to warm up and feel the trade off is fine over an iron that stays on continually.  I don't want to feel guilty for leaving an iron hot all the time.  They are after all the wattage of a space heater or blow dryer.
  • Not easy to tip over
    • The most detrimental thing for the life of your iron is falling on the floor.  They really don't like it.  Many irons are designed to be rather unsteady when set up on their base.  Pair with the wobbly ironing boards most people have and you need a new iron every six months.  An iron that stays on it's base will last longer.
  • Good for right or left handed use
    • My mom is left handed and often reminds me that she lives in a right handed world. It's no skin off their noses to make an iron work for both with a cord that is in the right spot or swivels back and forth.
  • Easy to fill with water and water stays in
    • Who thinks it's ok to spill water all over your ironing board when you're filling your iron?  Also, what if your ironing aggressively, do you want the water sloshing back out the hole?
Usually I don't promote products here because there are very few that I feel are worthy of my seal of approval.  This one gets me seal:

T-Fal FV4259 Tefal Ultraglide Easy Cord Steam Iron

This iron gets rave reviews and can be had shipped for under $40.  If I had to complain about something it would be that the auto-shutoff is slightly too aggressive.  However since the iron heats fast it's pretty much a non-issue.  I have used irons from all the major brands and even the "high end" names (you know the ones) and they just don't stand up to this one.

So that's my two cents on irons!  Notice we didn't even get into all the steam generators and gravity feeds.  I think those are a whole different thing and would have to be reviewed in their own category.

7 comments :: a question of irons....

  1. I also have a T-Fal iron but it started to leak. I also went through three Reliable irons, all of which leaked within a year. At the moment I have a DeLonghi Professional Ironing System and am really happy with it. It has a separate boiler which can be turned off separately from the iron. The steam holes are only at the tip of the sole and the point is pointy!

  2. Totally unrelated but I wanted to say a HUGE thanks for your video on using a narrow hem foot on curves--it was EXACTLY what I needed. I practiced on some curved ruffles I'm making for a dress and your instructions were AWESOME! also loved the charm of your neighbor mowing the grass. :)

  3. Brian, I have a old 77 Sears machine the timing is off with stitches_ can it be fixed? Stitches are good for 3 then a wide stitch. Is there a part . Need to find if so where, thank you. I love my machine dont want to give itvup. Can you help?

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