Are you an experienced quilter or novice looking for a steam iron? Do you need a steam iron that is within your budget? Ever since the Chinese discovered that hot metal can be used to press fabric until smooth, a quilting iron has become as important as a good pair of scissors or tape measure to any quilter.
Over the centuries, the sewer’s iron has taken many forms. From terracotta French flat irons, soapstone Italian irons to stone Middle Eastern irons. Each of which was designed to serve the same purpose. Flatten cloth.
In this article I'm going to consider important features of the best steam iron for sewing and quilting, and in particular, provide a brief overview on 3 of the best steam irons on the market, all available on Amazon.com. These are:
- Top Range - Oliso Pro TG1600 Smart Iron with iTouch Technology
- Mid Range - Rowenta DW5080 Focus with 400-hole MicroSteam Technology
- Budget Range - Black+Decker F67E - Classic Steam Iron
Other Steam Irons With Good Reviews Also Worth Consideration:
Table Of Contents
- The Best Steam Iron For Sewing And Quilting - Considerations
- Top Of The Range Steam Iron For Sewing And Quilting
- Oliso Pro TG1600 Smart Iron with iTouch Technology
- Video Review Of The Oliso Pro Quilting Steam Iron TG1600
- Budget Range Steam Iron For Sewing And Quilting
- Black+Decker F67E - Classic Steam Iron
- Video Review Of The Black And Decker F67E Classic Steam Iron
- Mid Range Steam Iron For Sewing And Quilting
- Rowenta DW5080 Focus with 400-hole MicroSteam Technology
- Video Review Of The Rowenta DW5080 Steam Iron
- Also Worth A Look - SteamFast SF717 Mini Steam Iron For Quilting
- Video Review Of The SteamFast SF-717 Travel Steam Iron
- Our Best Buy Steam Iron
The Best Steam Iron For Sewing And Quilting - Considerations
There are many factors that go into choosing the right quilter iron for you. Some of these include:
1. Budget: Iron prices are as varied as there are available models. The more costly units support more features than budget oriented irons. Not everyone is after an extensive feature list though. Novice quilters or those with a limited budget will settle for a good budget priced iron.
2. Weight: The preference varies from one quilter to another. Heavier irons might work well in terms of heat retention. They also make ironing less of a chore as they iron much faster. There are still many who have a preference for lighter irons. Not only do lighter irons allow better maneuverability, but they are also light enough for people with conditions such as arthritis to use for long periods. They require longer periods to even out the fabric.
3. Power consumption: Some ironing units consume well over 1500-watts while there are many that require far less than 1000-watts. This could become a consideration to keep in mind for those that iron huge volumes of fabric. While quilting or sewing, there may be long periods of idle time as you adjust your fabric layers. These activities may add to your monthly utility bill.
4. Build materials: Build materials are important when in the market for a new iron. They dictate the lifespan and robustness of your iron. When considering the iron’s soleplate, there are two main materials used. Aluminum, which is lightweight and easier to heat up, and stainless steel which is heavier, heat-retaining and can take knocks better. Moreover, build materials influence the quality of the ironing. When dents begin to form, the quality of ironing goes down.
5. Steam power: For any quilter, steam is important as it makes ironing easier and faster. Some ironing units produce large volumes of steam making them usable as vertical steamers. On the lower end of the budget scale, irons produce moderate steam which should be enough to iron out light fabrics.
Also closely associated with steam power is the water reservoir. A higher capacity reservoir requires less refilling. This, however, is not always the case as some units produce high volumes of steam, thus requiring a refill more often.
We took a closer look at three iron sets that fit every budget. To identify the best steam iron for sewing and quilting that works for you, read on.
Top Of The Range Steam Iron For Sewing And Quilting
The Oliso Smart Iron - Model TG1600 is a high priced quilting iron that has an array of features. The iTouch feature is at the top of the steam iron’s feature list. iTouch eliminates the possibility of burning or scorching fabrics when you leave your iron on fabric for too long. The iron has sensors which detect when you let go of the iron.
When you release the handle to adjust your fabric, the iron engages a mechanism which raises the soleplate off the surface or fabric. This allows the steam iron to be positioned either vertically or horizontally. We found this to be a much safer approach as there are fewer chances that the iron will topple over, unlike upright placed irons.
Still, should you leave the iron unattended for 30 minutes, the auto shut-off feature kicks in. This makes it both economical and safe for your household.
Having a 12.7-ounce water tank, the iron has one of the biggest water tanks. The sideloaded water tank has its waterhole below the handle. What we like most about the water tank is that the does not drip unintentionally. Some lower priced quilting irons require being emptied to avoid dripping onto fabric.
Additionally, powered by 1800 watts, it produces quite powerful steam jets which can be adjusted for particular fabrics. Between the Tripleplay Xtremesteam and Pro-press soleplate features, all your steam needs are covered. These provide horizontal or vertical liquid or steam jets for efficient quilt ironing.
The iron has an extra thick soleplate which works better for retaining heat. This keeps the irons hot for quite a period after shutting off. As such it can still be used for ironing before cooling down completely. A truly smooth soleplate and curved edges, also reduce chances of dimples forming on ironed fabrics.
Many quilters will also appreciate the 2-inch iron’s detailer tip. This pointed tip comes in handy when ironing areas with minimal maneuverability, such as pockets and corners.
Incredibly, the Oliso TG1600 has a 12 feet long cord with a 360-degree pivot. This gives you enough length so that you do not have to be right next to a socket.
Here are the Oliso TG1600 advantages and limitations at a glance:
1. Easy to access dials: Located at the front of the iron are dials that allow you to adjust both temperatures and vary steam or water spray settings. There is also a more informative indicator light on board that lets you know what your iron is doing - it blinks green when heating up, solid green when hot and red when entering sleep mode.
2. Quick to heat up and slow to cool down: The iron takes less than a minute to heat up the rather thick soleplate. On switching off, however, the iron does take a while cool down due to the thick soleplate and can thus still be used for ironing at this time.
3. Requires fewer muscle workouts: The iTouch feature eases the hassle of having to lift your iron each time you need to adjust your fabric.
1. Heavy: The iron will feel heavy due to its thick soleplate compared to other irons.
2. Breakdown: After a year of use, there are a number of customers that report leakage from the water tank develops. Further, the iTouch feature has been reported to become inconsistent in its functioning.
Video Review Of The Oliso Pro Quilting Steam Iron TG1600
Budget Range Steam Iron For Sewing And Quilting
At the budget end of the scale comes this small sized Black+Decker iron that is superb for light and good for small-sized fabrics. Styled with a classic look that we were once accustomed to, the Black&Decker F67E is the most affordable iron on our list. For the price, you get a light-weight iron with an aluminum soleplate. This explains the price as stainless steel soleplates cost more.
Aluminum also accounts for the lower weight. You might also need to keep in mind that the soleplate will not be as strong as a stainless steel one. In the long run, its stainless steel soleplates maintain smoothness much better. It does, however, conduct heat much faster for an iron unit.
The iron has a 7 setting dial that serves as a fabric selector. Black&Decker also helpfully included a fabric guide below the handle that lets you know which setting is suitable for your fabric. The dial also has an off mark on the dial, rarely included in other models in this price range.
There are 3 adjustable steam settings. Don’t expect too much steam though. There is only a moderate amount of steam from the bottom that would be enough to get creases out for light fabrics only. If working on heavy fabrics, you are better off looking at the mid-ranged Rowenta DW5080. Moreover, there is some delay caused by having to wait 3 minutes after filling the reservoir for the water to be hot enough to generate steam. Nonetheless, the quilting iron has an easy to fill reservoir hole. The reservoir’s anti-drip design is a welcome addition.
Though the unit lacks a detailer or precision tip, Black+Decker have incorporated a button rule - grooves on either side - onto the soleplate. This makes it easier to use the iron around buttons and zipped up areas. The Black & Decker F67E classic iron has an 8-foot long cord. Each unit also incorporates an auto-shut-off feature for added safety, when the iron is left unattended to.
This ironing unit seems quite appealing, especially while starting out on your journey to quilting due its low price. We, however, like it for receiving the least number of negative reviews in this price range by users.
Below is a quick list of what we liked and what might require improvement.
1. Bare necessities: Unlike the higher priced models, the F67E is a back-to-basics type quilting iron. It does not have all the complicated controls or digital displays found on more expensive models.
2. Reassuring heft: At 3 pounds, the iron is heavy enough to offer a solid performance. This weight is beneficial as it removes creases faster than lighter irons.
3. Price: The unit comes in at a price that is difficult to beat. At USD18.69, the ironing unit works out well for almost any budget or household.
1. Lacks some features: As would be expected, a few corners had to cut to bring the price down compared to other quilter irons featured on this best steam iron for sewing and quilting review. One of the features missing is the spray mist feature. This will mean more effort will be required in removing those hard-to-remove creases. Another curious feature to miss out was the self-cleaning feature. As such you will be required to clean your soleplate to prevent calcium build up.
2. Dark colored water reservoir: The casing is difficult to read due to its dark casing. It is more difficult to tell where the water level is without a lot of tilting and squinting.
Video Review Of The Black And Decker F67E Classic Steam Iron
Mid Range Steam Iron For Sewing And Quilting
A more budget-friendly quilting iron is the German-made Rowenta DW5080. The best seller brand has managed to make this iron’s design sleek while ergonomic. Just like the Oliso Pro TG1600s detailer tip, the Rowenta DW5080 features an enhanced precision tip. Again this is good for those hard to reach places such as around buttons and cuffs. The precision tip also incorporates micro-steam holes.
The company’s patented MicroSteam design features 400 steam holes spread across the soleplate. This allows for a more efficient and even distribution of steam. Its stainless steel soleplate has been treated to resist scratches during normal use. With a polished finish, the iron's surface moves across fabrics rather smoothly. Rowenta has also crafted the soleplate with an aluminum core. This makes for a much better heat conductor that evenly distributes heat across the soleplate. Rounded edges also eliminate chances of creases forming as the iron moves.
Its powerful steam jets also allows the iron to be used as a vertical steamer for hung articles of clothing. A steam burst works well for wrinkle removal. It also incorporates a targeted spray control, which allows you to sprinkle a small water jet when removing more stubborn creases. Buttons for either setting are conveniently located at the top-front of the iron and are well labeled.
Supplying the steam holes is a 10-ounce water tank filled with tap water from the front of the iron. The water tank thankfully has a level indicator to tell us when the tank has enough water. When done with ironing, you can use the remaining water for the iron’s self-cleaning feature that removes any deposits. This anti-calc feature is great when fending off calcium or limescale build-up. Carried out frequently, cleaning lime deposits with the self-cleaning feature will extend the life-span of your iron.
At 7 inches, the Rowenta DW5080 has a much shorter cord, though this does not limit its mobility. The cord is still long and practicable for any ironing exercise. A 360-degree pivot is also on board.
The iron also has an auto-shut off feature that comes into effect if the iron is left vertical and idle for about 8 minutes or 30 seconds in case of a tumble. The unit has a regular LED indicator. It is recommended not to use the iron while it is heating up to avoid accidental leaks. There are five settings on the thermostat knob located above your water tank for ironing linen, cotton, wool, silk and finally, nylon.
Here's a quick run down on the advantages and limitations of this model:
1. Lighter: The unit comes in at 3.4 pounds compared to the heavier 4.5 pounds of the Oliso TG 1600.
2 Steam power: There is loads of steam from the 400 micro-steam holes making ironing easier for many a seamstress. The output is rated at 100gms per minute, which is quite a fete for near-budget priced irons.
3. Less power consumption: Though only a marginal difference, it is worth mentioning that the unit requires 1700 watts.
1. Smaller surface area: Not really a big deal, but the iron does have a smaller soleplate the overly generous soleplate on the Oliso TG-1600. This, however, does make it lighter.
2. Requires frequent refilling: The trade-off to producing produces enormous volumes of steam is that it runs out of the water quite fast.
Video Review Of The Rowenta DW5080 Steam Iron
Also Worth A Look - SteamFast SF717 Mini Steam Iron For Quilting
The units mentioned above would be too heavy to carry about while traveling. For quilt ironing needs on the go, the Steamfast SF-717 is most ideal. Its stand out features is its light weight and portability. The small-sized iron requires a paltry 420-watts for its operations. This means that it might be underpowered for heavy duty ironing, but is sufficiently capable of sprucing up fabrics while on the go.
We found the cutely designed iron a steal as a travel iron. It has evenly distributed weight making it easy to use. Its top water reservoir is easy to access, though the reservoir is nothing to report about with its 1.4-ounce capacity.
A dual voltage setting allows a quilter to change from 100 to 240 volts making it suitable for any corner of the world. It also has a 7.5-foot cord giving it enough length for reachability. Mineral water might be the way to go with this one to avoid calcium build up. As would be expected features such as self-cleaning are amiss.
Video Review Of The SteamFast SF-717 Travel Steam Iron
Our Best Buy Steam Iron
Each ironing unit is aimed at a specific target group. We would, however, have no problem recommending the Rowenta DW5080 as the best iron for a seamstress in this best steam iron for sewing and quilting review. Being smack in the middle, the iron gives us the best compromise between price and features. It has just enough features to make it an efficient asset and a price that is just right.
It has no major flaws that one can not deal with. A cord that might be shorter than the industry standard (about 8 feet), power consumption that rivals higher priced models and the annoyance of frequent refilling the reservoir are all flaws one can learn to live with.
The unit more than makes up for its flaws with its great feature set. Large steam bursts, a lighter weight than the Oliso, a precision tip, a surface area close to the Oliso and an ergonomic design make this unit a sure winner.
Hope this overview on some of the best steam irons was helpful. My wife in a keen quilter and seamstress, so we know all about ironing (yes, I do quite a bit)