Sewist-filter: Tiny Irons
May 24, 2020 12:53 PM   Subscribe

I need a new iron, but since I bought a steamer I ONLY use it for sewing, primarily using the point for pressing seams and corners and other targeted uses. Should I just buy a tiny iron? Are they good quality w/ settings and durability or mostly cheap/novelty? Will I regret not having a full sized iron? Reccomend me an iron please!
posted by wellifyouinsist to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
What kind of sewing do you do?

I've definitely seen serious sewists using tiny irons in youtube tutorials - mostly for quilt-piecing and applique work. For piecing the point of the tiny iron seems to be having one work space where you can sit down with all your supplies, and not move back and forth between the cutting mat and the ironing board (especially when you have both combined into one product).

For applique work, the tiny iron allows for pressing of areas that would be harder to reach and maneuver with a regular iron.
posted by bunderful at 1:33 PM on May 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

all sorts (indeed some quilting) but mostly apparel .
posted by wellifyouinsist at 2:19 PM on May 24, 2020

I sure use my whole iron to press and rock over a ham and a sleeve roll, which helps my garment sewing a lot.
posted by clew at 2:31 PM on May 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

A tiny iron for fusible interfacing takes a really long time. I can see the appeal of one to keep by the sewing machine for piecing but I need the breaks I get from sitting to standing so I keep my big one. If I ever get extra monies I want an Oliso mini.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 3:12 PM on May 24, 2020

Come to think of it, all the sewists I've observed using tiny irons seem to have it for specific tasks, and in addition to a full-size iron.
posted by bunderful at 3:16 PM on May 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have and use both, and I wouldn't want to go back to having just one or the other.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:58 PM on May 24, 2020

I'm just a simple country couturière, but I use a flat iron (you know, for hair) to press my seams and pleats.
posted by Freyja at 5:41 PM on May 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

I had a tiny iron for the past 8 years. It actually just died on me finally and I miss it! It was good to have to quickly press open seams for quilting. I especially loved it for fiddly little pieces. That said, it was a very cheap iron. It leaked horribly so I could never use the steam function. I did recently see this in a quilting video and was very intrigued.

That said, I think pressing a block or an entire quilt would be very difficult with a mini iron. I have a cheap large one for those purposes.
posted by eggs at 5:54 PM on May 24, 2020

I would not attempt to prep 3 yards of fabric for cutting without a good full-size iron. YMMV but I would find it aggravating to try to sew a garment without a full-sized iron.
posted by crush at 6:08 PM on May 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've sewn quite a bit, including garments, curtains, and quilting, and I've only ever owned the travel iron my mom got me when I went to college over 20 years ago. That might be a good compromise? The steam function/mister is crap, but I just use a separate mister.
posted by momus_window at 8:37 PM on May 24, 2020

Are they good quality w/ settings and durability or mostly cheap/novelty?
Nancy Zieman used a small iron all the time on her show and she seemed very particular, so I think some nice ones exist. Her own site sells one for about $40.
posted by soelo at 7:53 AM on May 25, 2020

I use the Wirecutter's recommended clothing iron: The Maytag M4000. I also use a clapper for seams on heavy fabrics and haven't had complaints with its ability to get out creases or set a seam. I don't like the dial--I'm still not sure what heating setting is which. The steam function is as good as the review says.
posted by crush at 9:22 AM on May 25, 2020

I don't usually sew a lot of quilting cottons, but I have jumped into sewing masks recently. Initially I didn't have a full size iron available, just a small travel steam iron. It is very time consuming to iron yardage to prepare it for cutting with a small iron, and inconvenient to refill the water reservoir all the time. I also found the travel iron tended to leak, but perhaps that was an issue with only that particular iron.

One other issue with a small travel iron is that it's, well, small and light. Not so much an issue for ironing a piece of clothing as one would use it if traveling, but if you want to leave the iron set up because you are returning to it often, it is a safety hazard to have a very lightweight iron that will tip over easily.

Since then I have acquired a full size iron. It makes dealing with ironing much more pleasant. You will want a steam iron. You might want to look at reviews of irons on sewing sites in particular, what makes a good iron for sewing might not be the same as for clothing ironing.
posted by yohko at 1:41 PM on May 25, 2020

I used the Sunbeam Hot 2 Trot exclusively for a few years, mostly with small improvised ironing boards. It was really annoying to iron yardage and finished objects, so when the steam function crapped out, I got a full-size iron and a real ironing board instead. The little iron was really great when piecing quilt blocks and assembling garments though, when you're continuously sewing, pressing, sewing, pressing. It's a lot more pleasant than having a full-size iron running full blast right next to you for extended periods, especially in the summer. I was actually just thinking about trying to fix the old Hot 2 Trot but now I might just spring for an Oliso mini, thanks tipsyBumblebee!
posted by yeahlikethat at 6:33 PM on May 25, 2020

I think a full sized steam iron is going to be helpful for you.

I do have a small iron, though, the Steamfast mini iron. It does work out when I'm trying to iron small things. It's also under $13 at Walmart, so if you just want a small iron to try out, it's not going to break the bank.
posted by that girl at 10:25 AM on May 26, 2020

Yeah I'm definitely going to buy two irons now lol thanks for your advice all! Much appreciated!
posted by wellifyouinsist at 10:55 AM on May 26, 2020

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