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The Best Iron, According to a Serious Sewist

Whether you're a casual presser or serious quilter, you want the best iron on hand to tackle wrinkly jobs with ease. To find the best models, we had a serious seamstress and quilter check them out.

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The Best Iron According To A Serious Sewist TMB studios

Searching for the Best Irons

My mom taught me how to sew when I was ten years old. Now, more than 20 years later, I still rely on her expertise (she was a professional seamstress once upon a time—just like my great-grandmother). One piece of advice that I can never forget is one she repeats often: “A good iron is a seamstress’s best friend.”

And I’ve found that to be absolutely true. Whether I’m working on stitching up a new dress or just getting some creases out of a shirt, having the best iron is invaluable.

Because my ironing board is almost always out and I’m always working on a new sewing project, you know I’m serious about great irons. Find out which options I deemed best from a weeks-long test.

Rowenta IronLisa Kaminski/Taste of Home

How We Tested Irons

Since the Test Kitchen team isn’t reaching for an iron regularly (though our studio occasionally grabs one to press linens), I took these irons home to test them myself.

Over the course of several weeks (and the creation of an entire quilt), I put these irons through their paces. That meant evaluating them on everything from tip to cord. Here’s what I kept in mind as I ironed clothes and sewing projects day after day:

  • Grip: A good iron should be comfortable in the hand. Irons will vary in weight but overall the balance and grip should feel good as you use this tool.
  • Ironing capabilities: This one’s a gimme, but in order to be called the best iron, an iron has to do its job well. That means wrinkles should disappear in a pass (maybe two or three for an extra stubborn crease).
  • Steam and spray options: To help get rid of wrinkles, I rely a lot on these two features. I want an iron that sprays evenly and gives powerful steam without any spitting.
  • Heating: hate waiting for the iron to heat up. The second I plug it in, I want to start on my project! For me, better irons heat quickly and evenly.
  • Appearance: I know that most irons are tucked into closets 99.9% of the time. However, if you’re a quilter or sewist, your iron is probably out and at the ready pretty often. I count myself in that camp, and for that reason, I want a good-looking iron.
  • Extra features: You know I had to test more than just the most basic irons. I tested all the special features from retractable cords to expanded heat settings.

There was a lot to keep in mind for this test, but overall I relished trying these brand-new irons out. Perhaps I’d find one to replace my ol’ reliable!

Rowenta Access Steam Iron With Retractable Cordvia merchant

Best Cord-Reel Iron

Rowenta Access Steam Iron with Retractable Cord

Once you try an iron with a retractable cord, you’ll ask yourself why you ever bothered with any other iron. There are lots of cord-reel irons out there, but the best one I’ve found is the Rowenta Access Steam Iron with Retractable Cord.

This slick-looking iron boasts a cord that rolls up with the push of a button. I love this because it keeps my linen closet looking tidier.

But this iron is so much more than a space-age appearance and handy cord. Unlike many irons that only have three temperature settings, this Rowenta model has a dial that allows you to set the temperature to silk to linen and many, many degrees in between. I really enjoyed this feature because sometimes mid-temp is too cool and high is just too hot for some fabrics.

The toggle on the iron is also great for adjusting the level of steam. On full blast, this iron could serve as a steamer if need be. For everyday ironing, I’d recommend setting the switch somewhere in the middle.

Once adjusted to my liking and the projects I was working on, I found this iron worked like a charm. A pass or two over wrinkly linens and there were no creases to be had. The narrow tip of the plate also made it easy to press open any seams—perfect for sewists.

While this iron is hefty (irons with retractable cords tend to be a bit heavier), it was comfortable to hold and well balanced in my hand. The auto-off function also kicks in after eight minutes which is nice for us worry-warts. No one wants to leave the house wondering if the iron is still hot.

Pros

What I enjoyed about this Rowenta iron:

  • Retractable cord (no more tangles!)
  • Streamlined appearance
  • Powerful steaming capabilities
  • Fully adjustable settings for temperature and steam

Cons

Consider these factors before you buy:

  • Slightly heavy

Price: $60

Shop Now

Panasonic Cordless Iron via merchant

Best Cordless Iron

Panasonic Cordless Iron

When we got our first cordless phone at home, my mom was positively thrilled; no tripping over cords, free-range throughout the house, the satisfying click of fitting the phone into the base! I finally understand that feeling after trying this Panasonic Cordless Iron.

Like a cordless phone, this Panasonic iron has a base that plugs into the wall. I set mine on a small table instead of my ironing board so I had plenty of room to work on that quilting project. The base itself is pretty nifty; it has a retractable cord and a lid that snaps into place over the top to keep the components together.

Once plugged in, you select your heat option; there are just three on this iron in addition to the steam and spray options. This iron takes a while to heat to the highest temperature—a minute and 50 seconds per my stopwatch.

But using this iron was worth the wait.  The feeling of being untethered while you work is unmatched! No cord crossing over the ironing board while pressing quilt blocks, no cord to trip over as I rushed to iron a shirt I wanted to wear to dinner. Using this iron was absolute pressing freedom! Not to mention that it did a nice job of getting the wrinkles out of my favorite top.

Now, the plate on this iron was smaller than the rest with a small water reservoir. This means the iron is super lightweight and easy to maneuver as it presses wrinkles and seams, but it also means that the tank needs to be refilled more often. My advice: Keep a bottle of water at your sewing station or in your laundry room so you don’t have to run to the kitchen to refill.

Also, when you’re not ironing, it’s best to set this iron back on its base. This iron is a bit unstable when set on its heel. Returning it to the base also keeps the iron hot and charged.

Pros

What I enjoyed about this Panasonic cordless iron:

  • No cords!
  • Lightweight
  • Convenient storage case with handle

Cons

Consider these factors before you buy:

  • Takes nearly two minutes to heat
  • Small water reservoir
  • Pricey

Price: $85

Shop Now

Singer Steamcraft Plus Steam Iron via merchant

Best Iron for Sewists and Quilters

Singer Steamcraft Plus Steam Iron

Like my great-grandmother and mother before me, I use a Singer sewing machine. I heard the company makes irons, too. And it turns out that the Singer Steamcraft Plus Iron is just as good as the brand’s sewing machines.

This steam iron is noticeably different than any other iron I tried in this test—and any other I’ve seen over the years. The Steamcraft iron has an adorable vintage aesthetic in a pretty aqua color—perfect for my retro ranch.

At first, I thought this iron might be all about the looks, but within 45 seconds my mind was changed. This iron heated up the quickest of any I tested and then ironed out all the creases in embarrassingly wrinkly quilting cotton in just a single stroke.

While piecing together a quilt, this Singer iron became a favorite. With a 30-minute auto-off setting, I could move from machine to ironing board to seam ripper back to the ironing board without having to wait for the iron to heat up again. 30 minutes is long for most, but for seamstresses and quilters, it really is just right.

More reasons sewists will love this iron: the narrow point on the plate. This helped me press open small seams very easily. Also, the water reservoir is pretty large so you don’t need to refill mid-project.

I will say this iron is on the heavy side, but the grip is comfortable. Just be prepared to build some muscles as you work on your projects.

Pros

What I enjoyed about this Singer iron:

  • Heats very quickly—45 seconds to hit the cotton setting
  • Narrow point perfect for ironing the smallest seams
  • Attractive vintage look

Cons

Consider these factors before you buy:

  • Heavy
  • Pricey

Price: $77

Shop Now

Hamilton Beach Steam Iron via merchant

Best Budget Iron

Hamilton Beach Steam Iron

Not everyone needs an iron with all the bells and whistles. In fact, I’d bet that most folks just want a clothes iron for pressing dress pants and getting stubborn wrinkles out of button-front shirts. If that’s more your speed, you want the Hamilton Beach Steam Iron.

This iron has all the basics: steam and spray, auto-off and a dial to select the appropriate temperature for your clothing (here’s what all those clothing symbols mean). For a budget-friendly iron that’s all I’d really expect—except this iron also has the convenience of a retractable cord—a huge plus! Typically irons with retractable cords can be a bit heavy, but I found this one to be lightweight and really easy to maneuver as I worked on my quilt.

Appearance-wise, this iron isn’t anything fancy, but it does its job well. This iron heats to high heat for cotton and linen in just 47 seconds. The nonstick plate moves smoothly over fabric and gets out significant wrinkles in just one or two passes. The steam function was spitty and uneven, but overall nothing that casual pressers should concern themselves with.

Pros

What I enjoyed about this Hamilton Beach iron:

  • Retractable cord
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable

Cons

Consider these factors before you buy:

  • Steam function is a bit spitty

Price: $35

Shop Now

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Check Out More Test Kitchen-Preferred Products

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.