Friday, August 23, 2013

Irons - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

In the past, I have been a huge fan of the Reliable Digital Velocity v100 iron. Mine, which arrived in October 2010, has seen heavy use since that time. I use it almost daily, often for many hours.

Then, earlier this week, it died.


Looking back, I realized I had a clue that I wasn't paying attention to. The last few times I refilled it, I would later notice wetness on the ironing board. At first I thought I was being sloppy while pouring in the (distilled) water, but the last time I was careful and there was still quite a bit of wetness. I believe that the leak shorted out the electronics, because I can no longer get anything to display on the digital readout.

At first I was pretty irked. This is an expensive, premium iron. It should last longer than 3 years, right?

But what to replace it with? Up until it's mysterious leaking and sudden death, it behaved perfectly. It heated up fast. It produced tons of steam, even at the lowest setting. I loved that I could override the auto shutoff feature. It has a substantial weight, which I want in an iron. (Though if you have weak wrists, it may not be for you.)

I know there are many fans of gravity feed irons, but I am not ready for that investment or for the care and feeding of a gravity feed iron.

As I was mulling over this crisis (seriously, I can't sew without an iron!) I did some calculations. I had the iron for 35 months. The cost for using the iron came to less than $4 a month.

I realized that this cost is completely worth it to me. I ordered another Reliable V100 Digital Velocity Steam Iron, which will be arriving next week.

Meanwhile, I ordered something I've been wanting for awhile. I ordered a dry iron, the Continental Electric CP43001 Classic Dry Iron. This iron does not produce steam and has a perfectly flat sole plate, so it's very nice for fusing interfacings - no little "circles" of unfused interfacing where there are corresponding holes in the sole plate.

It arrived today. Within minutes I was fusing the interfacings on my current jacket project.

I love it! This is a small iron, but it has some heft to it. There are no computerized bits to break down. There is no water reservoir to leak or spit. There is no automatic shutoff. (Though I plug my irons into a power strip that also has a light, so I know right away if my iron is on.) It isn't super fast at heating up, but it did get quite hot. It also feels less stable than my Reliable, so it's extra important not to leave it on where it can tip over and start a fire.

It was so weird to use such a quiet iron! No steam means no noise. No purring, nothing. I felt very retro while using it - wearing an old-style apron over a fitted dress would have completed the "June Cleaver" effect.

This iron will be a great supplemental iron and a backup for my seam iron. (One of these days I will get a clam-shell press...)

On another note, Margy and I are participating in a little sewing challenge, in the sense that we are both sewing up the same fabric. I hope to make some major progress on my project this weekend, though my kids often derail my plans at the last moment, so we'll see!


  1. I had a fancy, smancy iron a few (like 10?) years ago. It was expensive and was supposed to steam like nobodies business. It never lived up to my expectations. Then, one day it died, and I needed a iron RIGHT NOW. So I went down to the hardware store and bought an iron for $20. It had auto off, and it changed colors at different temperatures. It turned out that it steamed like nobodies business. It lasted much longer than the fancy smancy one, but alas, it too died. So I went back to the hardware store. My new one doesn't change colors, but it steams like nobodies business. I have not spent as much on those 2 irons as I spent on the fancy smancy one, and that's not accounting for inflation.

    Now, I have a teflon sleeve that I use with my iron, and I'm sure that makes a difference, but I'm never going to buy a fancy smancy iron again.

  2. My kettle died this week too. And it wasn't even 3 years old. Sigh. And you can't sew without one of those Looking forward to seeing the new jacket (and Margy;s too).

  3. Yay for backup irons! I just ordered the dry iron, even tho I have a 2nd Reliable V100 Digital Velocity Steam Iron. Onward with the Challenge!

  4. My iron died recently after after many, many years. It was an older Rowenta steam generator. I bought another one because the last one was fabulous. This one is not as good, but it gets the job done. The main problem is that it spurts water until the lines are clear. Once that happens, it is good to go until it sits and the water in the line cools. I may look at a Reliable iron next.

  5. Enjoy your new irons; hopefully this one will last longer than its predecessor. Look forward to the challenge project!

  6. New stuff is fun... and of course an iron is essential! My press is "dry" (no holes) and I love it for applying interfacing. DH surprised me maybe 20 years ago, when Sam's carried them. What a treat! No holes, no steam mechanism to go bad. I use a mister and press cloth. With any luck, it will las forever, like your new Continental.

    Can't wait to see the "challenge."

  7. I buy vintage irons at estate sales and love them. There is one being used full time and about five backups. Spray water, a dauber, a variety of pressing cloths, a 2' x 4' pressing surface, a sleeve board and various padded tins and tubes make a convenient pressing station for this sewist. But whatever you use works great for you!

  8. Must be iron breakdown weather! I just replaced mine, but with a wonderful, inexpensive Black & Decker Steam Express iron. My daughter has one, I almost took it! It's not easy to find, as it is not the latest version. It heats quickly, steams like crazy, and doesn't turn itself off right away. Better than any other, more expensive iron I've had! What a neat idea to have a dry iron for fusing - I'm going to keep an eye out for one!

  9. RIP, dear Reliable :( Still loving mine, which is still going strong! The dry iron looks very interesting; I'm curious to see how much use you get out of it in the long run...

  10. What a good idea to have two irons for steam and non steam. I don't know why more of us don't do this, after all plenty of people have more than one sewing machine.

  11. This is an interesting post since I'm not ready for a gravity feed iron either. I will look into the smaller steamless iron because it's a great idea. Thanks for sharing it!

  12. It sounds like I'm not the only one that's not ready for a gravity feed iron. I was beginning to feel like a lone soldier. I currently use the Black & Decker mentioned above but have bookmarked both the Reliable and Continental. Thanks for the info.

    Can't wait to see the challenge garments!


  13. It is my understanding (from reading the owner's manual - I know - boring) is that it is best to use tap water for irons. Something about the iron needing the minerals in the water to form steam properly?

  14. When my Digital Velocity stopped heating up, I stored it in the closet for several months, and I tried to get along with a Target purchase. I ended up shipping the reliable to the factory to get it repaired. I actually spoke with the owner of the company (he was surprised that I wanted to ship it to Toronto, but he was very flattered when I told him that I had trouble sewing without it). He said that if it was too expensive to repair (combined with shipping) , that he would sell me repaired secondhand iron, so that everything would workout economically.

    I swear, the people who work in my companies mail room love to see me coming.

    Rose in SV

  15. My Rowenta died, and I purchased it in 1999 and that's when the irons were a little heavier. I really hated to get another iron. Saw the Olisio at the sewing expo, but my iron hadn't died yet. I didn't know what to get next, and just ended up getting another Rowenta. I do pay attention to all suggestions. This iron should last for a while lol.