iron talk

iron talk

By Patricia Belyea

WAUCONDA WA  Last week my iron gushed all over a quilt project. The good news—it wasn’t rusty water. The water dried and didn’t leave a stain.

For my workshops and both studios, I’ve bought a bevy of Rowentas—the ones with 400 steam holes and lots of power! I contacted Rowenta Customer Service and asked why my anti-drip Professional model gushed. I learned that the iron was not warmed up to the correct heat. If I had been just a little more patient and waited for the indicator light on the bottom left to go out, my Rowenta wouldn’t have gushed.

This week I called quilter extraordinaire Denyse Schmidt to talk about irons. Denyse said she’s really enjoying her Oliso irons right now. Denyse has a full-size and a travel-size Oliso. Oliso irons are the ones with little legs that push up when not in use.

In our discussion, Denyse and I agreed that pressing seams is really important to our quilt projects. We both love steam. And we also both admitted that we don’t empty the water out of our irons each night. So naughty!

Denyse, an expert seamstress, cares about craftsmanship. Denyse wants her quilt tops to lay flat. Sometimes, with improvised curves and wonky piecing, she gets some quirkiness in her seams—even after pressing. Denyse said that the subtle personality in the seams can typically be flattened with the quilting.

Below: Denyse’s Oliso Tg1600 iron in her quilt studio in Bridgeport CT

Denyse nor I have any patience with flipped seams. They make a mess at four-way intersections and the lumpiness shows on the front. With flipped seams, we both go back, take out a few stitches, re-stitch and re-press.

Denyse presses all her seams to one side. This is no longer necessary as modern battings don’t migrate through open-pressed seams. All the same, Denyse likes the tidy look—with one side of the seam raised up and the other side set in.

Below: Front and back of a quilt top by Denyse with seams pressed to one side

On the other hand, I’ve been pressing my seams open for the last few years. I’m interested in the flat, graphic appearance that comes from open seams.

Below: Quilt top by Patricia with seams pressed open, backside of the same quilt top

I’m a stickler for pressing each seam three times (setting the seam, pressing from the back, and then pressing from the front). I want to ensure my seam allowances stay flat and there are no wee lips on the front side.

We both agreed that good steam irons are crucial to our quilt making.

Here are two reviewers’ top picks of quilting irons for 2020.

  1. This list is topped by an Oliso iron. The post also includes features of what to look for when purchasing an iron. +read more
  2. This list is topped by a Rowenta iron +read more

What about you? Do you have a favorite iron? Or, a rave or pet peeve about your iron?

To visit Denyse’s website to see her quilts, fabrics, patterns, templates and books +click here

Below: Patricia’s Rowenta Professional iron in her quilt studio in Wauconda WA