What is the best iron for heirloom sewing, and dressmaking? What iron do quilters use? If you’ve been in the market for a new iron lately, you know there are so many irons to choose from! Not only are there dozens of companies manufacturing irons, but there are multiple models from most companies.
A steam iron with high, even heat and sufficient steam is very important if you’re making heirloom or other garments. Those are important features for quilters too. Details such as cord length, weight, special features, and price are personal preferences. For example, I prefer an iron that doesn’t have auto shutoff. Other sewers may want a lightweight iron or one with a retractable cord. Of course, we all want an iron that isn’t going to leak or spit.
3-Way Auto Shutoff
I collected the available details for several professional grade or higher end steam irons, as well as a few less expensive models without all the bells and whistles. Check out the table below. Most all irons now have auto shutoff or 3-way auto shutoff. Three-way auto shutoff means the iron will turn off after a certain period of time when the iron is upright, left flat or tips over. Usually, it’s 30 seconds when left flat, 30 seconds when tipped over and 8 minutes when resting upright. The Reliable Velocity has an auto shutoff bypass, meaning you can turn the auto shutoff feature off. That would be the one for me if I decide that is the most important feature. It’s the heaviest one on my list though at 5.4 pounds.
Higher end models are little heavier, so if weight is a priority, you may want a lower end model. Higher end models have more power/heat at 1800 watts, as well as more steam holes. The higher end models will also have more settings to choose from. If you like all the bells and whistles like a digital display, one-touch technology, and multiple steam settings, you’ll want to go with one of the professional grade or higher end models.
Interestingly, buyers complained of leaking or spitting in the 1 star reviews of ALL the irons, except the Reliable Velocity 260IR. However, that iron only has a few reviews, so give it time. The Sunbeam Steammaster only has a couple of reviews that noted leaking.
The Best Value Iron
If price is very important to you, you’ll want to find the best value: an iron you can afford with the features that will get the job done. The Mueller iron seems to be new on the scene, and I can find only one model. It gets good reviews overall and may be a fantastic value at $29.99. However, there are several 1 star reviews that say the buyer received a used iron. I think I would pick the Sunbeam Steammaster if I were looking for a good value. It has 1400 watts of power compared to the Black+Decker Classic’s 1100 watts, and very few complaints about leaking. The Sunbeam also has a large water tank and weighs just under 3 pounds.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and you’ll want to do your own research. In addition to perusing the Amazon reviews, you can try Googling a phrase to pull up what’s most important to you. For example: “best value iron for sewing” or “iron for sewing that doesn’t leak” or “light weight iron for sewing” or “iron for sewing without auto shutoff” (good luck with that one!).
Find a Vintage Iron
Another option that isn’t on the list is a vintage iron. I’m currently using a vintage iron that I bought on eBay for about $40. It was sealed in the original box and had never been used. It is a Proctor (before Proctor & Gamble) from about the 1950s and it’s a steam iron. If you want an iron that gets hot and doesn’t have auto shutoff, a vintage iron is for you.
Most sewers rely heavily on the steam capability of an iron. It is most certainly convenient. However, yet another option is to use a dry iron with a spray bottle. Even though my vintage iron has a steam option, I rarely use it because it spits a little. Of course that could open a new topic: finding a decent spray bottle.
Happy sewing (and ironing) everyone! And check out the fabric while you’re here!