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Irons: from tiny to dragon!

For a while now I’ve wanted to blog about irons, and why I love the ones I have. Yes, plural…..I have SIX! Three are “small” size, two are regular, and one is Sirius the Black Dragon. Yes, my Janome M7 sewing machine is named Albus (the second, he had a predecessor named Albus). There’s even a video at the end of this post about all these irons!

From left to right: the CHI, my beloved Panasonic Titanium Nonstick, the little mushroom style, the (SOB no longer made SOB) Clover, and Sirius, a LauraStar steam generator. I have a sixth sorta small iron, but it is too heavy/awkward for my hands and was upstairs for use steaming in the closet–not that I’ve actually ever used it for that. Sigh.

The Panasonic is my go-to iron for fusing. At 1200 watts, it gets hot and has acceptable steam, although I almost always use it as a dry iron. I love this iron so much I wore the finish off my last one! I always have one that is my working iron, and a brand new spare in the closet in case the cats or I knock it off the ironing board one time too many (studio is in the basement, cement floor…not good for falling objects). I can LITERALLY place this on Mistyfuse or other fusible web, melt it all over the bottom of the iron and WIPE IT CLEAN. No more hot iron cleaner fumes (which cannot be good to inhale–they set off smoke detectors)! For the price of four tubes of iron cleaner, you’re golden. This link takes you to the one I am currently using–I like that it has auto off because I am easily distracted. As of April 2020, it is a whopping US $27. Even if you only use it for fusing, it’s worth it!

I fuse on top of my ironing surface, but also on the design wall. Holding the iron (which is relatively light) had gotten uncomfortable because I have arthritis in my thumbs and wrists. So I tried the little mushroom iron, the ones you see in classrooms and at retreats–many folks can plug them in and not blow the fuses. It is quite comfortable to hold when used on a flat surface, but on the design wall it requires you to bend your wrist, and that hurts for me.

Here I am holding the iron on the design wall, and I have to bend at the wrist which causes discomfort. That’s why I really prefer the…SOB….not longer available Clover iron. Yeah, I’m sorry, I know that doesn’t help you very much. I haven’t included a link for the little mushroom style irons…there are a bazillion available on Amazon, at quilt shops and so on. From what I can tell they are fairly similar.
The Clover iron is ideal for the design wall. The “mug” handle rests on my fingers, and I can see my hand and forearm in a single line–as if I were wearing a brace. That means I can tap it onto the design wall as I work with no pain at all. I don’t know if there are any models similar to this style out there….If ANYONE KNOWS OF SOMETHING SIMILAR, please TELL ME! I’d love to test one out and see if I can recommend it to my students. And if anyone knows someone at Clover that we can all write and beg them to make this again, tell me that, too!
The 1200 watt Panasonic Titanium non-stick iron is on the left, the CHI 1700 watt is on the right, and that glorious fabric is Meadow color of HashDot by Michael Miller Fabrics.

For years I have recommended the Panasonic Titanium nonstick iron to students–Panasonic should give me free irons for life I’ve sold so many for them LOL! But I had (note the past tense) suggested that the gold-ish colored titanium appears to be the key. Not so much. First, my “in the closet” iron-in-waiting is a Panasonic Titanium ordered earlier this year, but is now a silvery color instead of gold-ish, but still works the same. Second, not all Titanium non stick is the same. I decided to give the CHI Titanium Ceramic, below, a try. It costs more, about $59, and has 1700 watts so lots of heat and power and good steam. It’s great for steam ironing, but not so great at the non-stick–it really doesn’t wipe clean the way the Panasonic does. Here’s what happened:

I needed to (yuk) get out the hot iron cleaner. This surface just doesn’t wipe clean well. I use Faultless Iron Off hot iron cleaner on a soft white terry towel. And look what happened: I rubbed off the finish on the gunky edge!!!!!! It’s still a good iron, and I use it, but not for fusing. It has quite a large capacity water reservoir which is good in principle, but again that pesky arthritis poses a problem: it’s heavy. That’s where Sirius the Dragon comes in. Keep reading. ANYway, if you don’t use fusibles (or even if you do) this is a good, hot iron with good steam.
The LauraStar steam generator is a grand indulgence! Please be sure you are sitting down when you see the price on this black beauty…they are expensive. But OH MY! I had been lusting after a steam generator for a long time, but (to repeat myself in a short space) they are expensive. And this is on the expensive end of expensive. But I’m sure glad I indulged–nothing beats a great tool.

The model I purchased is the same as this one (minus the soleplate cleaner, which I wish I had). The steam is IMPRESSIVE…literally, it sends out a jet about six feet….watch the video below! It comes with a cord stand (which I don’t point out in the video. There is the power cord and, wrapped in cloth, the line that powers the iron and brings the steam to it. Unlike a regular steam iron that produces steam constantly (if you set it to do so), you need to push the button, but that is easy to do given the location on the handle.

The steam cord is a bit stiff, which is why having the clamp-on cord guide is so helpful. You also get a silicone mat so you don’t have to tip the iron on end, just set it on top of the mat. That is comfortable for my arthritis. So is the light weight of the actual iron. AND you can steam things that hang, like curtains and garments!

When I have a lot of ironing (like yards of dyed fabric, or just washed fabric), the steam generator is a DREAM. Also excellent when doing a final fusing of the finished art quilt top and when blocking a quilt. Many steam generators if the tank runs dry, you have to turn it off, wait for it to cool, then add water. Not so this one–just open the lid to the easily accessed tank and add water (shown in video). BINGO! WINNER! Just be sure not to send a blast of steam in the direction of your other hand. Guess you don’t need to ask why I advise you of that. Ahem. Only did it once! If you are also a garment maker, you’ll love this. I will grant you, it is *expensive.* But in my case, worth it.

Bottom line: I use the Panasonic for all fusing. For smaller ironing jobs, I use the CHI. For working on the design wall, I use the Clover. And when I need STEAM or have a lot of ironing to do, the LauraStar. So there you have it…why I ned at least FOUR irons! What are your favorites, and why?

10 Responses to “Irons: from tiny to dragon!”

  1. Sue Siefkin Says:

    I too am a Panasonic Titanium girl and echo your enthusiasm. I once tried to iron on my design wall. Big mistake- it melted the insulation board beneath the flannel, with permanent iron imprints left behind. You might want to warn your classes not to try it in the middle of their wall, depending on the content of the underlying construction material. Cheers!

  2. Tena Davis Says:

    Thanks for the iron tips! I recently purchased a Rowenta “Everlast” 1750W with Anti-calc. I do not like it. It doesn’t seem to get very hot. It is very heavy! I like a good bit of weight to my irons but this is too much. I am going to try to return it. I will take a look at the Panasonic you recommend.

  3. Claudia Says:

    Loved your review, but you are talking too far from the microphone.

    I too have had a Panasonic something iron (at least a Silverstone finish) and it lasted for years. So long, when I went to replace it, not available in stores around here. I usually go through a garment iron in about 2-3 years when I use for quilting purposes (who irons clothes anymore?).

    My design wall is three doors hinged together, with a layer of batting and flannel on top of that, so I don’t think I’m going to melt.

    Your haircut comment tickled me. I look like a lhasa apso!

  4. Sarah Ann Smith Says:

    At the moment I am describing myself as sporting the electrocuted hedgehog look……. And I had a design wall similar to yours when we lived on San Juan Island. I had a tiny space, so I made one that was comparable to the 3-way mirrors in dressing rooms. The center panel was mounted to the wall, then I used “piano” hinges to attach two side panels that I could close. It was in an open area between the boys bedrooms when they were wee things that grabbed at Mama’s stuff!

  5. Sarah Ann Smith Says:

    If you like a heavier iron and one that gets HOT, look at the CHI iron that I shared. It’s not VERY heavy–it’s just my wrists that are problematic. It also has more heat and steam than the Panasonic. The Panasonic is, however, my go-to for fusing because it is so easy to clean!

  6. Sarah Ann Smith Says:

    Ah… when I made my design wall, I was worried about that having done exactly the same thing. This time around, I covered it first with batting, then with flannel, and don’t keep the iron in one place for too long. I essentially “fuse-baste” on the vertical. When it is fairly well stuck, I then move it to the ironing board/surface that is flat for really getting it fused up well.

  7. Beth- now living in Rural KY!!! Says:

    I like auto-off too, not so much the distraction as that I don’t have to worry “if” I turned it off!!! Always unplug before leaving for days, tho. Yep and the right tools is always nice!!! Have you tried a wool pressing mat yet? Game changer!!!

  8. Sarah Ann Smith Says:

    Hi Beth…you’ve moved as much as I used to! Yes unplug when not in the studio for a few days or more, and YES to the wool mat. My mother’s old ironing board had a wool pad. She used to have this ugly dingy pink all wool blanket that I had intended to repurpose to that, but when I got her moved from California to here in 2011, it was gone. Anyway, given the “retirement” budget (meaning not much moolah), I wondered if the place where I bought wool felt–a manufacturer that will sell to the public at above wholesale but below retail–would have the stuff. Turns out they did/do! I got a group together here. Two of us wanted 20x 72″ (rolls are 72″ wide), and most wanted a smaller size. I think it was 14 x 72 that worked out to use up the yardage. We bought two full yards I think it was, and split shipping on a pro-rated basis, which brought the cost down to lower than the wholesale cost at Brewer! So I have a small mat, and one that more than covers my “Big Board.” I LOVE IT! I agree…game changer!

  9. Donna Says:

    Sarah~~I have the Panasonic Titanium iron, and you recommended it to me. I absolutely love it! Great recommendation!


  10. Sarah Ann Smith Says:

    So glad you love it!