lady ironing clothes with her iron

Sewing is unimaginable without ironing. Well, pressing to be exact. It is an absolutely essential tool for sewing. Fortunately, there are hundreds of different models available on the market, so it should be easy to choose the best iron that fits your needs. Or maybe not? We like to have more choices, but we actually don’t like to choose. Well, at least when there are too many options to choose from. 

A couple of studies have shown that our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. It means that we are attracted by a larger selection, but we also have difficulties to make a choice and often give up. It seems that the ideal number of options is between 6 and 15. Anyway, I am not here to share marketing tricks and the customer’s natural tendencies. I will just help you to cut and narrow down this vast sea of available irons.

Choosing an iron for sewing and quilting can be difficult not only because of too many choices. Irons that work great for your everyday clothes might not be as good when it comes to sewing. Sewing requires some specific features such as high power and a continuous amount of steam.

Important Features for Sewing

So, which qualities you should look for in iron for sewing? Most of these features are not great only for sewing. It means that it is most likely that if you buy a great iron for sewing it will be decent for all types of ironing. Anyway, let’s get started.

Steam Feature

Most irons of today are steam irons. But, I have to mention it because it’s a must for sewing. Basically, the more steam, the better it works. However, consistency and dispersion of steam are also important. Most of all, steam speeds up the process. Moreover, it can deal with persistent wrinkles that a simple dry iron can’t.

Some irons have a vertical steam feature, which is nice but not really necessary. So, to get the best out of your iron check out steam burst, steam dispersion and ease of use. Steam holes can vary in numbers and sizes, but it doesn’t significantly affect the result. I prefer larger holes because they are easier to clean. 

Power

As a general rule of thumb, the more power, the better. Power is usually expressed in watts (W). Everything in this world revolves around power, it’s the same with irons. The iron needs power to heat up faster. More power also allows consistent and strong steam bursts. While this is pretty simple, you can’t just look for the most powerful iron.

If the iron is too powerful, you might need to adapt your power circuit. Irons between 1400W and 2000W are powerful enough to do the job, and not too strong for a regular house circuit. Also, more powerful irons come with heftier prices.

Heat Control

This feature also has something to do with power. More powerful irons will reach desired temperatures faster. It’s not like you have to rush things, but a faster heat-up is an advantage. We use dial for setting the right temperature or a button and LED display on digital irons.

Anyway, a decent iron should have clear marks that show the optimal temperature for each type of fabric. Designated temperatures aren’t always accurate because manufacturers differ slightly when it comes to perfect temperatures for different fabrics. So, I suggest testing the iron on the scrap before you start ironing until you get to know your iron. You will figure it out pretty quickly, though.

Water Reservoir

The water tank doesn’t seem to be a complicated part, but it’s a very important part of the iron. Here’s why. A small water reservoir needs to be refilled pretty often and it’s a nuisance. Every time you do this you need to turn off the iron, refill it, and then turn it on again. And what about ease of filling water? If a hatch is small or awkward, it may be a daunting mission to pour water without spilling.

Obviously, if you have to refill the iron often and it’s difficult to do it, it can become a nightmare. So, a larger water tank and a larger filling hole will make your life easier. On the downside, the iron with a larger water reservoir becomes quite heavy when it’s full.

Weight

This is another seemingly simple choice. But, it isn’t. In general, heavier irons should be better. You don’t have to apply as much pressure as with lighter models. Heavy iron stores more heat and provides a more stable temperature. Essentially, it performs better when it comes to ironing.

But, how about narrow spaces? Heavier irons are usually larger as well. If you sew a lot you will iron a lot. Repetitive lifting will become heavier and heavier. So, where’s the middle ground? It’s individual. The stronger you are, the easier it will be to handle a heavier iron. Your goal should be to find a heavier iron that won’t get you tired too quickly.

Anti-Drip System

The anti-drip system is a very convenient feature. Generally, you can’t use the steam function on low heat settings. Simply, water can’t turn into steam on low temperatures and it will leak.

The anti-drip system closes off the holes when the temperature is low, to prevent leakage. So, it’s really helpful. It is one less thing to be extremely careful about. 

Auto-Off Function

This is a simple and ingenious feature. Safety should always come first. If you forget to turn your iron off, it can be pretty dangerous. Well, not anymore. Almost all modern irons have an auto-off feature that reduces the risk, immensely. Usually, manufacturers call it a 3-way auto-off system. It means that it shuts the iron off depending on its position. The iron will shut off in 30 seconds if left on its soleplate or on its side.

If you leave it in an upright position, maybe you want to keep ironing, so it won’t shut off as quickly. It takes between 5 and 15 minutes depending on the model. 

Soleplate, Cord, and Self-Cleaning

Soleplates can be made of stainless steel, ceramic, aluminum, and some other materials. Stainless steel is the most common and probably the best choice, particularly for natural fabrics. Ceramic soleplate works well on synthetic fabrics. 

Cords can be longer or shorter, and there are also cordless irons. Cordless irons aren’t the best choice for frequent use, they aren’t as hot as regular irons and they don’t retain heat very well. 

Modern irons often offer self-cleaning function accompanied by anti-calcium filters. It allows you to use tap water while keeping your iron clean and deposit free.

Top Models

Obviously, the best iron for me isn’t necessarily the best iron for you or vice versa. I have made this list based on high overall quality of these models. It’s up to you to choose one that fits your needs best.

Rowenta – DW5080 Focus

For starters, it’s made in Germany. If you ask me it counts for something. Put aside my admiration for German precision, this is a beautiful iron and a great performer. It is powerful, the steam output is constant and powerful. Also, it is easy to use and easy to pour water into its reservoir.

Pros
  • Angled precision tip really allows easy navigating for small items and hard to reach areas.
  • It is fast and powerful. 1700W provides enough power to heat up quickly. Ironing is smooth and fast.
  • Robust steam power. 400 steam holes along with power produce constant, evenly dispersed, and powerful steam output.
  • Self-clean and anti-calcium functions.
  • Auto-off function.
  • It’s sturdy and durable.
Cons
  • Smaller soleplate. Actually, it is not small, but there are models with larger soleplates.
  • Runs out of water quickly. You can’t have it all. It produces great volumes of steam and consequently, you need to refill it frequently.

Oliso Pro TG1600 Smart Iron

This iron is not only great but it’s also “smart”. And I mean it. With Oliso’s innovative iTouch technology you can forget about scorched or burned fabrics. As soon as you let go of the iron sensors detect it and activate the system that will lift off the soleplate! Several other innovative solutions such as non-stick stainless steel soleplate and a bunch of regular features make this iron one of the best ones out there.

Pros
  • It heats up quickly and cools down slowly. It will save you some time and make ironing almost fun.
  • iTouch feature. It is not only safer, but you don’t have to lift your iron as often. 
  • Large water reservoir. It is one of the largest iron water tanks out there. The larger the tank, the less frequently you have to refill it.
  • Fantastic soleplate. Innovative design provides qualities of both stainless steel and ceramic soleplates without their drawbacks.
  • It is designed for sewers, quilters, and crafters.
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Cons
  • It is a little bit heavy. As I have already said, you can’t have it all. With a large water tank and thick soleplate, it has to be on the heavier side.
  • It’s not as smooth as some other models. Thick soleplate provides versatility and safety, but it doesn’t glide smoothly.

BLACK+DECKER Digital Advantage Professional Steam Iron D2030

In my opinion, this is the best budget option. It comes with many advanced features of more expensive models while being reasonably affordable. It is an excellent and versatile choice.

Pros
  • Clear LCD display. You can easily adjust fabric and steam settings. Also, the display will flash when the iron is heated and ready to use.
  • It is durable.
  • Versatile steam and temperature control. You can set steam and heat separately to match versatile fabrics.
  • Auto-off function.
  • Self-clean function.
  • It is affordable.
Cons
  • Difficult to see the water level.

Shark Steam Iron

This is a lightweight model that performs well. If you don’t sew all the time and you don’t want to spend money on the more expensive top-performing model, this can be a winning option. Even though it is light and resembles travel models, it has enough power (1500W) to perform quite decently.

Steamfast SF-717 Mini Steam Iron with Dual Voltage Travel Bag

This is probably the smallest steam iron I have ever seen. However, it is remarkable in many ways. Make no mistake, this iron is no match for other irons on this list. It is very small so it also doesn’t have a lot of power. Still, it has excellent user ratings. Here’s why. It’s ultra-light, portable, and affordable. You can use it anywhere in the world and it heats up in no time. So, it’s a perfect tiny little iron for your travels.

Pros
  • It is ultra light-weight. With only 0.96lbs it is ridiculously light.
  • It heats up in 15 seconds.
  • Dual voltage. 
  • It comes with a travel bag and a measuring cup.
  • Perfectly convenient while on the go.
Cons
  • Not powerful enough. It won’t do heavy-duty ironing, but it’s not designed to do it anyway.
  • No advanced features.