The Five Best Irons for Garment Sewers
My hunt for a good iron has been a long one. Garment sewers have peculiar needs in an iron. We need something that can be kept on for hours at a time without burning out components. Steam pressure and control is of paramount importance. And longevity is key. I haven't yet found the perfect iron that embodies all of these traits, but I have found a handful of irons that are close.
For me, these are the specific attributes of a good iron:
- Quick heating time: I'd like my iron to heat up in less than five minutes if possible. Sometimes I just need to quickly iron a garment and waiting 15 to 20 minutes is painstaking.
- A large water tank: If I can get away with filling up the tank every couple days I'm happy! If I have to fill up the iron every day (or more than once per day), I'm annoyed.
- No auto shut-off or a way to override it: I abhor when an iron shuts off mid-project and takes 5 to 10 minutes to heat up again. Total flow interruption.
- Impressive steam pressure with trigger: I want an iron that can press a stubborn crease out of heavy fabric like denim and canvas. I'd prefer a steam trigger for tough wrinkles.
- Good customer service: The fact is, irons break and often within the 1 year warranty window. I want a company that's easy to work with should I need a replacement.
A few months ago, I talked about a new iron purchase in my Instagram stories. This prompted hundreds of comments from garment sewers who are struggling to find a good iron. So, I’ve decided to write a blog post on the topic, listing the five irons that I have found are best for those of us sewing for hours on end with delicate fabrics.
I'm aware that the reviews below might seem a little pessimistic, but I think it's important to point out relevant cons that might affect you. I still have not found the perfect iron and each of these do have at least one small characteristic that I don't love. Iron technology has a long way to go, in my opinion.
But, the five irons listed below my picks for the best quality irons for their price. At the bottom of this post I list two irons that I would recommend staying away from at all costs. Please note, we have no affiliation with any of these brands.
Let’s start with the top o’ the line, shall we?
1. Laurastar Pulse - $2,479
Man, oh man, if I suddenly came upon a very large windfall you can bet that this Laurastar Pulse Ironing System would be the first thing I would buy. Swiss-based, Laurastar seems to be the first company trying to revolutionize ironing. This is the only iron I have not used in this list, but the features look amazing.
The ironing board has a blower/vacuum system. Yes, that’s right. This feature allows the fabric to either be inflated away from or sucked down to the ironing board to prevent folds where you’d might accidentally iron a crease into the fabric. I need to see that in person.
The Laurastar iron evenly emits steam as the iron is moved. And the large 1.2-liter water tank is located out of the way on the legs of the ironing board. The best part? It heats up in less than five minutes.
The cons? It’s ungodly expensive. Also, it’s unclear whether the 15-minute auto shutoff can be overridden. There are very few reviews of the system, I assume because of its price. But I’m intrigued!
2. Reliable 3000 IS - $449
Don’t be confused, the Reliable 3000 IS is an industrial iron through and through. I’ve used Portland Apparel Lab’s several times, and I’ve been very impressed!
Made in Italy, this iron has a 1.4 L water capacity that takes 10 to 15 minutes to heat up. But once it’s on, the iron is designed to stay on for several hours at a time. There’s no timed auto shutoff, but the system does auto shutoff when water is low to prevent component burnout.
My personal favorite feature of this iron? It has some serious steam pressure (the highest steam pressure I’ve experienced) that can be released with a trigger.
The cons? It takes a bit of time to heat up (10 to 15 minutes). While I don't love Reliable's customer service (more on that below), this is a stellar iron for people doing a ton of garment sewing.
3. Rowenta DG7530 Steam Station - $180
The Rowenta DG7530 Steam Station has been a popular iron among garment sewists. My mom bought me a similar one that was well loved for several years.
My favorite feature of the Rowenta Steam Station was the steam trigger located under the handle, where your trigger finger rests. It seems simple, but this is the only iron that put the steam trigger in an ergonomic location.
Mine didn't have an auto shutoff feature, which I loved. It also has an impressive 1.4L water tank and great steam pressure.
Cons? The old models took a long time to heat up (which it appears they’ve fixed). Plus, for me, the steam tank gaskets wore out every six months or so. Even after replacing them, I had persistent issues with this iron leaking steam out of the tank.
That being said, it looks as though the new technology at Rowenta may have fixed some of these issues. I don’t feel so burned by the brand that I wouldn’t be curious to try another model.
4. Reliable Velocity 200 IR - $150
For the home user that wants a nice iron but doesn’t want to shell out several hundred dollars, the Reliable Velocity 200 IR is a great option.
One touch and you’ll notice that this is a high-end appliance. The iron is pretty big and a bit heavy, but it works flawlessly (until it doesn't, see more below). Continuous steam is emitted when the iron is tipped and moved over fabric. Never once has this iron spit water onto my garments. The cord swivels so that you don’t end up with a twisted mess. It has an 8-minute auto shutoff that can be overridden.
Cons? The 300-ml tank is small and has to be refilled often. I bought this iron in March and it started spewing smoke (not steam...smoke) from the soleplate holes in May. I’m working with Reliable on getting a replacement through their warranty system, but it took me weeks to finally get a very curt reply via email. It's been over a month since I sent it back and still haven't heard a word.
5. Sunbeam Steam Master - $25
I'm using a Sunbeam Steam Master while my Reliable Velocity 200 IR gets replaced. It’s a $25 iron, so the quality is noticeably lower, but I will say that I’ve been impressed!
By far my favorite feature of this iron is the retractable cord. I’ve trained myself to unplug my iron every time I turn it off, and I love that I can easily retract the cord when I’m done.
I’ve also been pleasantly surprised that this iron doesn’t spit or leak water at all while ironing (as long as you don’t overfill it). It emits a decent amount of steam too, although it does have a bit of delay from the time you tip the iron to the time it starts spewing steam.
Cons: This iron doesn’t have an auto-shutoff override but it does heat up quickly when the iron is tipped again. The tank has to be refilled often (but not as often as the Reliable 200 IR).
Two Irons to Steer Clear From
Oliso TG1600 - $159
This iron props itself up when not in use (great for those with wrist issues), but I can find no other redeeming qualities of this appliance. I've used these irons when teaching and I found them subpar in every other attribute. They leak, the steam pressure is laughable, and in general they felt cheap. I've heard many of you say the same thing. For garment sewing, these irons just don't cut it.
Panasonic NI-WL600 Cordless Iron - $78.83
I love the idea of a cordless iron, but using this one is living in auto-shutoff hell. It turns itself off every five minutes and takes another five to heat back up. The water tank is tiny and the steam triggers don't work well. I've used these irons while teaching and I cannot tell you how frustrating they are.
And Finally, the World's Best Ironing Board...
I bought this Household Essentials Halfmoon Ironing Board along with my Reliable Velocity 200 IR in March and I am in total love. It's sturdy, has a great shape for ironing garments, and comes with a metal resting plate for your iron.
My favorite feature of the board is that has ample padding (no metal mesh marks ironed into garments!) and it came with a natural canvas cover. Why do so many ironing boards come with cheesy printed covers? I usually have to sew a new one, and I'm glad I didn't have to with this board.
Do you have an iron that you recommend? Please leave a comment below so we can check it out! We're always looking for the newest and greatest technologies in the sewing world.
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