Here’s the hard truth: if you take up sewing, you are going to be ironing. A lot. I once saw someone on the internet say that we might as well call this hobby “ironing,” since we do so much of it, and they had a point. I’ve always found ironing clothes to be satisfying to a point (the point where my OCD tendencies take over, and it makes me crazy that I can’t get the shirt perfect!) But I own very few items of clothing that need ironing, and I certainly don’t iron for my husband (if he doesn’t see a problem with being wrinkled, then I can affect blindness on particularly rumpled days.)
You may be tempted to make a go of pressing your seams with the travel iron your great aunt gave you when you went away for college. I cannot recommend this path. Your life will be much easier if your iron has: A. A decent sized water reservoir and B. some heft. Those seams don’t press themselves, but it’s much closer with a heavy iron. I’m a little obsessive about ironing seams – I iron each on flat, then open from both the wrong and right sides. Darts get pressed over a Tailor’s Ham, and for long sleeves I use a seam roll (I got both mine at Joanns, and they are by Dritz.)
When my Mother-inlaw found out I was sewing, she bought me a Rowent Effective iron for a present.
It looks all unassuming there, but trust me… this baby is evil. At first everything seemed fine – the iron heated quickly, and it is nicely heavy. The steam vents are toward the front, so it does tend to burn fingers, but I also think pressing is a little easier with the steam close to the tip. Unfortunately, the iron quickly showed the source of the incredibly bad reviews it has received on Amazon. There is an issue with the auto-shutoff. I don’t like auto shutoff anyway, but this one performs very badly. It will actually trigger the auto-off while you are ironing! And then you have to stand there and shake it around for awhile until it decides to come back on. And then, one day, it decided to start leaking water out of the part where the cord is stored. Yeah. It wasn’t the cheapest iron, and I would expect better from Rowenta – but perhaps they are a victim of shipping their factories overseas as well (my iron was made in Mexico.)
So, completely angry at the Rowenta, I went back to my old iron. It was a wedding present, and considering that I never ironed before, it’s basically new.
It’s a Black&Decker Digital advantage. It wasn’t until I tried the other iron that I really appreciated what a great all-purpose iron I had. It has a few things that make it superior to the Rowenta. First of all, the water reservoir has a cover. On the Rowenta it would just leak on you if the iron was tipped sideways. The tip is perhaps a bit more pointy, making opening seams easier. It seems to hold more water. The steam holes are toward the back, making me less likely to burn myself (in this case I will trade functionality for not being burned!) It has a reasonable auto-shutoff, and it never senses wrong. And finally, my favorite… the steam settings are separate from the temperature settings. The Rowenta had basically no steam or “auto steam” which meant that you couldn’t, for instance, have a low temp with some steam, and you had no control over the amount of steam you would get. Seriously, it was terrible. So I totally recommend this iron – it wasn’t the cheapest, but it really performs well for me. I can’t say how long it will last, but sewers are really hard on irons anyway. When I wear this one out I might look into a gravity feed or something fancy, but I might also get another of these!
And my final tip for ironing… you need this stuff:
Mary Ellen’s Best Press is easily the best spray starch I have seen. It never leaves flakes, and it smells nice. I’ve only seen it at Hancock fabrics, but it may be available elsewhere. I starch slippery fabrics to stabilize them, and finished garments. I love me some starch.
So there’s my iron story! Thanks for the emails wondering where I was – I had about 5 unfinished posts, but didn’t realize I hadn’t published them… so now I am back!