Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Good Iron is Hard to Find

Last week my iron of five years gave up the ghost.  I was just ironing along when suddenly, it shut itself off.  It has an auto-off function, so I thought perhaps it was confused.  When I brought it back up to temperature and began ironing again, it started flashing on and off and beeping wildly.

After calling various 800 numbers regarding my beloved iron, I discovered that nobody repairs irons anymore AND my model was discontinued some time ago!  Ack.  Here it is:

A Black & Decker Digital Advantage D2020, 1500 watts of glory, with 7 temperature settings and fully adjustable steam (that little wheelie-thing above the handle).  I often fogged up my glasses while ironing with the steam at the highest setting.  Ah, memories...

I checked Consumer Reports and user reviews all over the internet, and realized that the ironing needs of the average consumer are different from those of the sewing maniac.  If you quilt, you know the importance of lots and lots of steam and very high temperatures!  (Though I do use a dry iron for setting seams and persnickety piecing.)  In my garment-sewing experience, high temperatures are critical depending on the fabric, and steam control is a big deal--or perhaps I am steam-obsessed?

So how hard can it be to find a decent replacement iron?  Well. I had the best, and was forced to try the rest.

This was my first attempt at moving on.  It is a Shark Lightweight Professional: 1500 watts, electronic with an auto-off function, four temperature settings, anti-drip feature (akin to advertising "This iron does what an iron is supposed to do!"), stainless steel soleplate, and a wheelie-thing for adjusting the amount of steam.  Sounds pretty good, right?

No!  It never got, you know, too hot to handle.  What I mean is I can touch the soleplate for a second and not burn myself.  Which is bad.  The so-called "variable steam" wheelie-thing does not noticeably change the amount of steam produced, and, on occasion and without reason, it does not steam at all.  You have to raise and lower it again to remind it to do it's thing.  I used the burst of steam button constantly to achieve crisp seams.  I guess if you just needed to press a dress shirt every now and again, it would do just fine; however, this iron is going back to the department store from whence it came.

Next up is Black & Decker's Classic Iron, which has a charmingly retro look about it: 1100 watts, auto-off function, seven temperature settings, anti-drip system (again!), aluminum soleplate (kinda draggy), and automatically generated steam but with a button to disable it.

I tested the two irons in steam and dry ironing, and concluded the new Classic Iron gets much hotter than the Shark, and with more steam.  I am happy to report I burned the heel of my hand on it in preparing to take these photos!  No word yet on the foggy glasses.  It also feels very solid to use, which is also to say it is HEAVY--a big deal for those of us with joint ailments, but something I can live with.  I think I'll stick with this iron for now, though I am still looking for The One.

Any suggestions?

Further reading:
My New Iron and I Always Do My Collars First by Kathy @ Pink Chalk Studio (the comments on each post are especially illuminating!)

Edit 05/13: This post from Ann Champion details the history of the iron, with great photos to accompany!  Check it out.


  1. I have the "one"!

    I know it's $$ but it's so worth it.
    If you're on any fabric co-ops you can usually get
    a huge discount!

  2. We use those 'dancing irons' at my work! I like them, but you're right, megabucks. They work beautifully though. Sometimes when I walk by one of our ironing boards, I touch the handle just to make them move. Irons are not a toy!

  3. I don't think anyone has invented the perfect iron for the sewer/quilter yet! I use a Rowenta DX8750 right now. I purchased it at Costco. They have a great return policy,no madder how long you have had it you can get a full refund with the receipt. So whenever my iron starts to act up, linking water, etc, I just return it and get a new one. This is the 3ed one I have done that way. Lately I am in love with my 1950 Ironrite Ironer/Mangle.
    I am going crazy ironing everything. They work fabulously on embroidery and applique.


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