Pressing tools I use for sewing
Do you remember these? No, this is not what I will talk about; but surely it looks cool! What I will talk about are irons, ironing stations, ironing and pressing boards, a tailor’s ham and a press cloth.
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Now there is a newer model for sale T-fal FV4495 Ultraglide. The iron is not pricey and has 4 out of 5 stars and 825 customer reviews on Amazon.
It was quite a good iron, it lasted about 6 years of heavy use and after that it started to leak. I would have preferred for it to be a little hotter though. The one I had was made in France. What I liked the most about that iron was the non-stick soleplate surface. And still I managed to get it dirty once ( my mistake, I put the hot iron on something that melted ).
It was an excellent iron, but still not hot enough for cotton and linen (in my opinion). It has a narrow precision tip that I liked to use for ironing small pieces like collars and it goes really nice around buttons. It started to leak after about 1 year of heavy use. Not too much but enough to spoil my silk fabric. But I am a heavy user of irons so maybe a year of excellent work is good enough for an iron.The unit was made in Germany.
I made some survey and I see that most sewing enthusiasts prefer Rowenta irons. And Rowenta DW5080 Focus 1700-Watt Micro Steam Iron is the top rated one on Amazon. It has 4.4 out of 5 stars and more than 4100 reviews.
I see that most of the complaints against Rowenta irons are about leaking water while using the steam feature and indeed, my experience confirms this to some extent.
Rowenta DW9081 Steamium 1800-Watt Professional Steam Iron with LCD screen Stainless Steel Soleplate with Auto-Off, 400-Hole
Also made in Germany, I got this in a pinch to replace Rowenta DW5080 that started to leak. It did not see heavy use and works just fine. I used it for ironing linen fabric and it does the job, it is hot enough. The only problem with it for now is that I have to squeeze a trigger under the handle to produce steam and this is exhausting because the iron is quite heavy.
Oliso Pro TG1600 Smart Iron with iTouch Technology, 1800 Watts, Yellow
This was an excellent iron while it lasted, which was EXACTLY the warranty period plus a week. It had a very interesting feature, you could not burn anything with it, once put down it raises itself off the fabric automatically. I was however a little annoyed by the short auto shut off period. It shuts itself off after a few minutes (while I am sewing next seams that have to be ironed) and you have to wait 1 minute or so for it to get hot again. But the mechanism that raised the iron failed in a year.
I got this just to try Singer brand, which is a big name in sewing, right? It does the job, doesn’t leak, works fine ( true, I am not really using it ), it is light and easy to use. Since I did not use it much I do not have yet a firm opinion about it. But the water hole is very small and because of this it always overflows no matter how slowly I pour the water into the iron. Also the linen setting just doesn’t seem hot enough.
A very cheap basic iron, that I bought recently in Costco. And since it is new, it still works well of course. It has good steam, doesn’t leak and doesn’t drip water. It heats up fast but it is not hot enough for linen settings. The cord of the iron is 10 feet long (longer than any other iron I had) so I have a bit more freedom of movement while handling the iron. But it’s not my “go to” iron.
For Sunbeam I see most of the complaints are about the iron failing after a couple of months, mine is not that old yet.
Since I use silk for many projects, staining from the water droplets that might be released together with the steam is a big issue and this iron resolves it. It is also hot enough for all types of materials. It irons linen better than any other iron I have. In the videos below I am comparing Kalorik with Rowenta and Sunbeam Aero while ironing linen shirts. As you can see Kalorik iron does the job better and takes unsightly creases and wrinkles out of linen fabric better.
It generates a lot of steam and the steam is ready in about 2 minutes. The iron itself is quite light because it has a separate water reservoir. The manual says that it has to be filled with distilled water.
A really great feature is that it doesn’t auto shut off so it stays hot and ready for me whenever I need it.
I also like that when the water runs out I don’t need to turn it off and then fill it back up. This ironing station takes water without any problem even while the iron is operating.
So I am really pleased with its performance.
What I do not like very much is that I have to pay attention when using fusible interfacing. The ironing surface gets dirty quite easily. True, this is because I use it very hot and it is my mistake if I linger in one place too long, but why not blame the iron, it can’t talk back. Maybe that is why I like it so much?
I don’t say that everybody should start using Kalorik (I don’t see it for sale on Amazon anymore) but I can say that ironing stations are awesome for sewing and I would advise you to buy one considering your budget (like this Rowenta ironing station for example)
Since I manage to get the iron dirty quite often I researched ways to clean it quickly and I found out that Faultless Hot Iron Cleaner works quite well; I bought first a small package but I upgraded quickly to a larger package, it is not really expensive. In the video below you can see how to fast I can clean my iron with this Faultless cleaner.
But the price is $ 2500!!! Can you afford it?
I am using a heavy-duty ironing board 18” wide. The board is larger and heavier than the standard one. It’s very sturdy. The extra width is wonderful and it saves me a lot of time with big sewing projects. I am very satisfied with it. The covers are getting dirty quite fast so I make my own board covers every 6 months or so.
It helps to eliminate seam line from forming indentations on a garment while seams are being pressed open. It has a section that’s sharply tapered to a point. And I use it to press collars, pockets, belts and other small items to get a neat, perfect point. The padded top forms a sleeve board. Darts, undercollars and other curved areas can be shaped over the ham section. And the board can be used as a clapper (a pressing block) because the bottom of the entire board has been sanded and edges have been rounded.
I use also a tool called a tailor’s ham (funny name though). I made it myself. I put inside sawdust and it works excellent for me. The sawdust absorbs moisture well (and I am always pressing with steam), never compresses and allows me to change the shape of the ham to a desired shape of the bust, shoulders and other curves.
A long time ago I discovered that silk organza makes perfect press cloth. I made a shrug from organza to go with my wedding dress, but it was quite a lot of fabric left and I notice that it can be ironed on high temperature and with a steam without any problem. From the beginning, I even thought that I was misled and my organza is not real silk.
But I made burn out tests and results were positive, I had organza from pure silk for sure. So I started to use this fabric as a press cloth and was never disappointed. The main thing is that I can clearly see through the fabric where I am ironing and I can easily avoid that awful creases that form sometimes and can spoil the whole garment.
Moreover, with organza as the press cloth, I am able to avoid those terrible watermarks that my steam iron sometimes produces out of nowhere.
So I highly recommend to buy quite cheap organza silk fabric (well, really, it is not costly silk fabric somehow) and use it as a press cloth.
What are your favorite pressing tools?Have you had experience with any of the tools on the list? Or do you have anything to add? Share in the comments.
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Actionable tips, tools and inspiration for people who like to sew. Make fashionable garments together with me @ageberry77