We are often asked for sewing tips and advice on how we achieve a professional finish on our sewing, quilting and dressmaking projects. One of the most important things, in our opinion, is regularly pressing and ironing the fabric at every stage of the construction. This results in the fabric sitting nice and flat before you sew.
A good iron is an essential part of your sewing tools. Successful sewing relies on successful pressing. Without the correct pressing equipment, sewing can look too “home made”. Well pressed projects have a neat professional finish.
What you need:
- Good quality steam iron, preferably a steam generator iron
- A sturdy, height adjustable ironing board
- Pressing cloth – this will stop the iron marking the fabric or leaving a shine
- Appliqué mat for any appliqué projects or for when applying fusible interfacings
Many of the fabrics we use, including linen and cotton, have a tendency to wrinkle, so we are constantly ironing. We don’t have room in our sewing room/guest room to set up the iron and ironing board. We use the adjacent laundry and have the ironing board and iron set up. We have an extra large ironing board (135 x 45 cm/53 x 18 inches) which gives us more room to lay out our fabrics, when we have a work in progress. It also has a shelf at the side to hold the iron. It is heavy duty, height adjustable, and sturdy.
We love an iron that has great steam power – which makes ironing so much easier. A Steam Generator iron holds a large tank of water which will keep you sewing and ironing all day without running out of steam. You also need an iron that has adjustable settings so that it is suited for all types of fabrics from silks through to linens. We usually use a Rajah Cloth for pressing.
Having an automatic turn-off feature is something we look for. I can be easily distracted when working on a new project and it prevents me from leaving the iron turned on. There is nothing worse that leaving the house to do school pick-up, only to worry that you have left the iron on.
Look after your iron and clean it regularly (following manufacturers instructions). There is nothing worse that have an iron that leaks onto your project leaving dirty marks. If you are using your iron for appliqué make sure you use an appliqué mat so that the sticky adhesive doesn’t end up on the soleplate of your iron. This can ruin a project.
The lovely people at Sunbeam recently sent us a Sunbeam ProGlide Plus (SR8700) Steam Generator Iron to put through its paces. Please be aware that I am one of the 5% of Australians that categorize themselves as ironing obsessives (Yes, that means I iron tea towels, pillowcases, tablecloths, all clothing. I do however draw the line at ironing underwear!). I used the iron over the weekend to iron business shirts, school uniforms, work uniforms, and general clothing; and then today to press fabrics for my next project! (I love Vintage Modern fabric – hope to share a new tutorial next week!)
What we liked about the Sunbeam ProGlide Plus (RRP $399)
- The iron itself is really light, as the water tank is separate, and it is a good ergonomic design
- Fast to warm up – approx 2 1/2 minutes
- Produces lots of steam. It even has a steam lock function and can be used for vertical applications such as curtains.
- Great for delicate fabrics like silk. We just waved it over the fabric while it was pumping out steam to remove wrinkles.
- Water tank has a great capacity – 1.4 litres (this is nearly 5 cups full of water). Enough to keep you ironing for hours without having to refill. Perfect for sewing marathons!
- Will switch off after 15 minutes of non-use.
- Able to use tap water. It comes with a a descaling tablet and has a Calc Cleaner reminder light (the iron has not yet been used enough yet for us to have trialled this feature).