Ask Mimi #1: What's the difference between pressing and ironing?
Many years ago I talked my sister into attending a beginning quilters’ class. She was reluctant, but agreed to try it out. We both, of course, discovered that we loved the fabric, the people, and the process. That is how our quilting adventures began. We thought of ourselves as advanced students, but even we were humbled while learning something new.
We had an excellent teacher and treasured the weekly “sister-time”. I was working away on my first quilt and I said, “I need to iron this.” Our teacher said quietly, “Press, not iron”. We looked at each other and both said, “Press, not iron!” We still crack up every once in a while over this.
Seriously, pressing fabric before cutting and pressing seams after piecing make a huge difference in the final appearance of your quilt. It is important to set the seams by pressing carefully. Some patterns call for pressing seams open, and others give directions for pressing to the right or left. Following these directions will ensure that your quilt blocks lock together correctly matching your pattern nicely. Remember to resist over pressing as it may distort or stretch your fabric. Press straight down and use steam sparingly.
What is the best iron for quilting?
Whether you’re ironing or pressing, there are many options when choosing your iron.
We really like the Oliso Irons: TG1600, TG1050, TG1100 and TG1250. These smart irons have a lifting mechanism that lifts itself off your board to prevent scorching. This is especially handy when several people are using the same iron. The added benefit of minimizing stress on you hand and wrist from lifting the iron over and over makes this a top pick for us.
The Anti-Drip feature of the Singer Expert Finish 1700, makes this iron a good bet for quilting and everyday use. The reasonable price is a bonus.
The Panasonic PAN-NI-WL600 360 degree freestyle cordless iron is another interesting choice. Cordless is great and the rounded sole plate makes pressing easy in any direction. This model also boasts a removable water reservoir. A heat resistant carrying case and 3-way auto shut off make this worth the price.
Mini irons are helpful when doing a lot of small work and easier to carry along to workshops. There are a couple of different options here.
The Steamfast SF-717 Home and Away mini steam iron is affordable and comfortable in the hand. Its non-stick sole plate and duel voltage for travel convenience make this our top choice in a mini.
The Clover Mini Iron II is another good choice in a mini iron. These irons feature a selection of interchangeable tips for specialized pressing.
The Dritz Petite Press Portable Mini Iron rounds out our picks for mini irons. We really like the flip down stand when not in use. The ergonomic handle and four iron head positions make it a good choice.
Quilt your dreams,
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