Top Choices for Our Favorite Irons and a Giveaway!

The holidays are coming and we have received a few questions as to what our favorite iron is. Sounds like it may end up on a few holiday wish lists!

We thought it would be fun to share our different opinions on the subject of irons with you.

Laura:  I’m not sure I’m the best one to weigh in on this discussion because I’m a bit of a pessimist on this subject. But, I’ll throw my two cents into the pot, just because I want to be honest with you. I have not really loved an iron since my first one, a Rowenta, which I purchased about 35 years ago. I still have it and use it regularly in the classroom. It’s been a workhorse and has all the qualities I want in an iron – weight, good steam, no automatic turn off and definitely no leaking or spitting gunky brown liquid that will stain my fabric.

Over the years I have purchased probably 20 or more irons for both personal and classroom use, ranging in price from $20 to over $100. Truth be told, none of them has lived up to my expectations and as a result, I find myself buying a new one in less than a year.

I am currently using this Rowenta, and certainly not just because it is red!  It gets the job done but since I’ve never been excited about the automatic turn-off feature, this is a negative for me. It seems to take a bit too long to heat up and will turn off too quickly. I seem to spend to much time waiting for it to be ready. Perhaps I’m just impatient.


One of my local quilt shops recently purchased  Reliable irons for the classroom. I had not used this brand but I have really enjoyed using them. They are heavy in weight and put out a lot of steam. I will certainly consider this brand the next time I am in need of a new iron. Unlike my other irons, this one suggests using distilled water. If you are not familiar with Reliable irons, I suggest reading some of the online reviews. I always find it helpful to listen to the advice of other quilters when it comes to the tools we regularly use.


It wouldn’t be fair to leave out my favorite small travel-type iron. This Rowenta is the perfect size for taking to class, I like how it fits in my hand and allows me to easily press small pieces; especially when preparing small fabric shapes for appliqué. I definitely use my main iron for the final stages of pressing but there is something about this iron that appeals to me when working with small shapes and/or pressing seams open.


Pati: Like Laura, I have owned quite a few irons over the years. Some worked well, others were just not up to my needs and expectations. I owned quite a few Rowentas in a row because they performed so well. A few years back I was having trouble with my forearm muscle and decided to switch to an Oliso Smart Iron, thinking that it would help. I love it!

Oliso Steam Iron

My cheerful, yellow Oliso had Scorchguards technology, which actually lifts the iron off the board for you the moment you remove your hand. Which meant my arm got a much-needed rest. I have been very happy with the other functions of the iron, also. It heats up quickly, even after the automatic turnoff. It works well with dry heat, and the steam settings are spot on. I especially like the steam blast button to get the creases out of folded fabric.

One of my favorite features of my Oliso is the way you add water. I have always spilled or over-filled when adding water. This iron is almost spill proof when you use the companion water pitcher that comes with the iron. No more saturated ironing boards in my sewing room!

I want to also add that Darci and I both had a chance to use the Reliable Iron that Laura mentioned above, while at a retreat last weekend. I thought it was really great. It had great heat, lots of steam and I really liked the feel of the iron.

Darci: I grew up using my mom’s old Black and Decker classic iron. That thing always came through, so much so that we used it for 25+ years. When I started quilting, I was pleased to see that Black and Decker re-released their classic iron, now with updated technology. I had one that lasted a few years but then conked out. So I bought another, and that one failed after a few months. Enter: my cordless iron from Panasonic.

I have a really old vintage iron that’s pre-electricity also, I thought that was a funny comparison to how far we’ve come with our tech. My two cordless irons.


The Panasonic NI-L70SR has a retractable cord along with a heat-resistant cover which makes it a great traveler. I brought it to our East Bay Modern Quilters Retreat this weekend, and it got non-stop use for 3 days. At the end of the weekend, I unplugged it and put it right in my car without having to wait for it to cool down.

I love how there’s no cord to get tangled up in. When I’m ironing larger items, I just make sure to put it on the base frequently so it doesn’t lose its heat. I haven’t had too much of a problem with that, it seems to hold its heat just fine. I love the stainless steel plate also. I just finished a large appliqué project that involved lots of glue and heat setting, and the plate never got gluey. My only complaint is that the water chamber is small, but since it’s detachable, you can take just that part over to fill it up. It gives me the excuse to get a few more steps in.


Hope this answers a few of our readers’ questions. If you need a few quilters tips on how to properly iron, or clean your iron, check out these links:

How to Press Quilt Seams – A Free Craftsy Tutorial

How to Press a Quilt Block Flat – This is a great trick by Generations Quilt Pattern

Accurate Pressing –

Cleaning Your Iron with a Dryer Sheet –

If you love DIY, then here is a recipe for the spray starch alternative we all love.

Spray Starch Alternative Recipe

In a large container, mix together:

24 oz distilled water

3 oz. vodka

1 tsp scented essential oil (optional) Love the fresh linen and lavender scents.

You may also add one drop of food color per gallon if you like.

Pour into spray bottle, give a good shake and your ready to press.



And for our giveaway – Share your favorite trick or advice with us and we will choose one lucky reader to win a free gift to use with all of your new ironing tips we have shared.


Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and see you all next week!



19 thoughts on “Top Choices for Our Favorite Irons and a Giveaway!

  1. I have used the Black and Decker Classic since I was a child – more than 50 years ago! My most recent one has the auto-off feature that can be extremely annoying. I now use a silicone iron pad when doing a lot of sewing and ironing. It’s great! The iron stays on and the silicone doesn’t melt. My last Classic iron, without auto-off, was still working great after 10 years. I guess that’s why my friend never returned it! ;^)


  2. Fantastic post!! I don’t use steam but have my own recipe of spray starch using distilled water and cornstarch. I spray everything for greater accuracy and to remove wrinkles.


  3. I try to make sure and press each step as I go so that I don’t end up with a lot of pressing to do at one time. It helps with piecing more accurately and saves me stress in the long run!

    Thanks for the reviews! Next time I am looking for an iron, I will keep these in mind!


  4. I don’t use steam to iron, but if I do, I use a separate spray bottle. I also use starch, after I iron, if I’m cutting fabric into small pieces so they don’t stretch. I don’t really have any tips, per se about it. I always prewash my fabric that is bigger than a yard.


  5. Great information Thank you! I always spray the top of the fabric and then flip it over and iron from the back. That way I don’t get any starch flakes on the top of the fabrics.


  6. I like to use spray starch on fabric before paper piecing. Makes it more accurate. I’m always looking at irons but have been happy with my latest Rowenta for a few years now.


    1. I wish I could post a picture of my Grandmother’s irons she heated on the stove. There are two bottom irons. She would use one till it got cold then the wood handle would be switched to the hot one. They never stopped working or got damaged when dropped but I’m not longing for the “good old days”.


  7. I’ve been researching irons for well over a year. I will check out those you like. My tip: My ironing board sits next to my cutting table at the same height (higher than usual because I am tall). I attached an iron cord holder at the right end of the table/board (I’m right handed). I am surprised at how well it manages the cord.


  8. Thanks for a great run-through of choices.

    I’m still using my old (35 yrs?) Black&Decker, which continues to work great. The auto-shut-off is fairly long so has never been an issue for me. About 20 yrs ago, my then boyfriend now husband was highly amused that I used an iron made by a power-tool company. I think it scored points.

    Regarding starch alternatives, I’m guessing the vodka is helpful in getting the fibers saturated and speeds evaporation. I’m not sure why one would want to put oils or food coloring into the mix. I don’t want anything that could stain or scorch on my fabric.


  9. I like to sew for long periods of time such as 8-12 hours. I put my pressing table at the far side of studio away from my sewing table. I find this is the best way to force myself to split my day between sitting, standing and walking. I was really surprised and happy how much it increased my step count on those quilting days.


  10. This is a great post!!! My tip is: if you have only one iron, use it dry 100% of the time (with a separate spray bottle when needed). If you sometimes want to use steam, have a 2nd iron for that.


  11. When I have lots of ironing to do, I starch the fabric pieces, roll them up into a plastic bag and put them into the fridge. I can pull out the pieces one at a time, and keeping them in the bag keeps them damp.


  12. I stopped using steam directly from my iron. Instead I use sprays, a Best Press or flatter to spray my pieces, I press them then while warm I lay a ruler over the piece and put weights on it ( I have a set of pattern weights that work great). I end up with perfectly flat pieces and it seems to help the accuracy of my piecing! churcae(at)auburn(dot)edu


  13. Recently I started using a starch alternative and have been amazed at how much better/more accurate my quilt block measurements have been. With the slightly stiffer fabric, I’m getting more accurate cuts and more uniform blocks. I wish I’d thought to do this years ago.


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