Piecing accuracy improves immediately when you take a bit of time to press your quilt blocks as you sew them. Pressing may seem like an unnecessary step, but the payoff comes in time saved when your quilt blocks fit together. Pressing seam allowances as you work helps eliminate little widths of fabric that become "lost" in seams, creating distortions and making blocks smaller than they should be.
There are firm opinions on to steam or not to steam -- an equal amount of quilters swear steaming will distort your quilt blocks as there are those who swear the only way to square your quilt blocks is with steam. The major benefits of steam are crisper seam allowances and better squaring of a skewed block. Dry pressing, on the other hand, runs less of a risk of stretching the fabric, as dampened fibers are more pliable.
Is it time to replace your old iron?
If your iron is old, chances are it’s not giving you the accuracy, heat or steam you need. An iron that spits water, stains fabrics, or does not have accurate temperature control can burn and/or ruin those quilt blocks you worked so hard to create!
Unfortunately, name-brand, high-end steam irons are often priced out of the budget quilter’s reach – ranging from $150 to $500 and up.
Yard Sales, Flea Markets, Craigs List and Freecycle are all excellent sources for finding affordable name-brand steam irons. When possible, ask to plug in the iron so you can check and make sure it heats properly. Even $5 for a Rowenta iron is too much if you get it home and find out it doesn’t work!
Another option is to find name-brand quality irons on sale on the Internet. Here are some links to reasonably priced, high quality steam irons. Considering the money quilters spend on fabric, sewing machines, notions and threads, a good steam iron that will improve your final quilt should be considered an “essential” in every quilt room.
Oliso TG1000 Steam Iron with Auto Shut-off, Anti-drip, Digital Controls with Stainless Steel Soleplate and free Soleplate Cleaner. This iron created a lot of stir in the quilting community just a few years ago for it’s unique “legs” which allows the iron to remain horizontal without scourching your ironing board surface. Currently selling on Allbrands.com for $99.00.
For many quilters, Rowenta is THE name brand in dependable steam irons.Rowenta DX8800 Professional AirGlide Steam Iron 1700W, 3Lb, 13oz Tank, 3-Way Auto Shut-off, Self-Clean, Anti-Drip, and free Soleplate Cleaner Kit is a bargain at $99.00.
At just $49.00, The Rowenta DX-1700 is an effective Auto Steam Iron, with an 8.5 Ounce Water Tank, 3 way Auto Off, Anti Drip, and free Stainless Steel Soleplate Cleaner Kit.
Black & Decker D2020 Digital Advantage Ironis a good choice for those with a tight budget, priced at just $39.99. Although it won’t provide you with the high steam capabilities of the Rowenta irons, it does include spray, variable steam, surge and vertical steam features.
For those who travel, quilt in an RV or while on vacation, or who prefer to take their own iron to classes, this SteamFast SF-717 Home-and-Away Mini Steam Ironis priced right at just $25.45, has a 1.25 ounce water tank, heats up in 15 seconds, has variable temperature settings, a non-stick soleplate, 1-touch steam control, and dual voltage for travel convenience. This little gem measures in at just 5 2/7 x 3 x 3 inches.
On the other end of the steam iron spectrum, are “steam stations” or “steam generators”. Heavy duty irons with huge water tanks and high steam output. Normally priced at $300 to $600, this is definitely THE iron for those who love to steam.
Currently on sale for $92.00 is this Euro Pro Shark Steam Station which has pressurized and continuous steam power, powerful penetrating steam which requires less arm pressure. It also offers professional dry cleaning results on silks, cottons and wools. It has a brushed aluminum soleplate, which allows for high heat retention for perfect pressing.
Whether you find a great deal at a yard sale, or invest the money by purchasing an iron, a high steam, efficient iron is a must have for every quilter.