Monday, September 1, 2014

My New Hot & Heavy Relationship

I'm  in love -  with my new iron.  It's a GE from the 1940s. Yes, it gets hot and heavy at times. Exactly what I was hoping for. I hope it lasts.

My other irons never did seem to heat up well enough or stay hot long enough. They don't have a sharp enough point for my small applique. And that auto shutoff . . . . for the birds. Absolutely hate it. Eight minutes is often not enough time for me to piece my block and then run back to the iron in time before it shuts off. I swear my latest Rowenta started to cool off after 5 or 6 minutes. Plus, it leaked. So, last week I went on a hunt to find a different one. Fed up with replacing irons that were not cheap on a regular basis I wanted to see if it really made a difference if I bought a cheap one. 

Quilters and irons - it's often a love-hate relationship and we're all looking for the perfect iron. I saw this cute retro Black and Decker iron and thought it would fit my needs. So cool and very inexpensive. Kind of like the one my mom had for years. I thought I'd found it, the perfect iron.

I really wanted to love this iron. It was so cheap. After I brought it home I couldn't wait to try it out. First thing that tipped me off that the relationship wasn't going to work out -  it did not glide smoothly. It stuck to my fabric. I tried a different fabric, then a different pressing surface. I let it cool off and then ran my hand across the bottom and found it was rough. The steam holes were slightly raised and catching on the fabric. Arrgh! Didn't think to check that before I bought it. Why would I? Who would make an iron that's rough on fabric? Couldn't believe it. And so darn retro-cute, too. 

A nice number of you commented on my Facebook page and gave me your opinions. I returned it the next day and then went to five different stores looking at numerous irons. None seemed to "fit." I kind of knew what I was looking for and simply cannot bring myself to spend $150 on an iron (plus, the checkbook reminded me that another college tuition check is due soon, so better not overspend right now). The vintage-looking iron still appealed to me and when Karen H. contacted me and said she loved her vintage iron, I took a chance. I buzzed over to my favorite antiques store and there it was. On sale too. $20.00 plus 20% off. I probably overpaid but I didn't care; my search was over.

You can see the thumb rest on the bakelite handle. It's comfortable.

My iron is in wonderful shape, almost like new. The '40s - '50s housewife who owned it either didn't iron much or took very good care of it. The dealer said he always checks out the appliances he sells and the electrical cord appears to be in great condition as well. The soleplate is flat (nice and smooth), so no steam, but I'll live. I can use a spray bottle if I need steam. And does it get HOT! I actually had to lower the setting from high so I didn't scorch anything. It's also very heavy and, as Sheri reminded me, the heavier irons almost do the work for you when pressing blocks. Best thing - NO auto shut off. Now, someone at my house was a little worried that this might get me into trouble but I'm willing to take that chance for an iron that stays hot. These irons remind me of the one my mom had for years and years. I don't remember her ever replacing one. They were just made to last in those days, I guess. AND, if I remember correctly while growing up, she did not burn the house down ONCE because she didn't have an auto shut off on her iron. (She scorched a few collars though, I think.) I promise to be careful.

This baby glides over fabric like you would not believe. I've only used it a couple of times but so far, so good. I'm now very intrigued by vintage irons. (Some of you may be interested in reading a blog I found on vintage irons.) I suspect that now, everywhere I go, I will look for an old iron to add to my collection. I would love to find one of these vintage Presto irons someday, just because it's such a pretty blue. And it looks so, so cool, doesn't it?



You'll remember that I already have a Singer vintage sewing machine. In 2012, after the drip coffee maker stopped working after only two years, I became angry. Instead of replacing it with yet another of the same I opted to buy a percolator coffee pot like the ones from the fifties (it's still going strong and the coffee tastes great and is HOT). Can a vintage waffle iron really be far behind? I should check the basement first - there may be one hidden there.



  1. I have an old folding travel iron that is wonderful to take with you on quilting trips.

    Yours looks wonderful, I am going to keep my eye open for one.

  2. Unfortunately, we live in a disposable society. Nothing lasts long as it is made to be disposed of in a short period of time. Then you buy the product again in it's "new and improved" model. Vintage is the best. It works for quilts, and it works for appliances as well. I think the vintage waffle iron should be your next purchase.

  3. As I have left my iron on before (once for several days!) I now plug my iron and a lamp into a power strip so I know I left the iron on if the light is on.

  4. I needed an iron for pressing seams and blocks and didn't want the weight of my regular steam iron so my DH bought be a small travel iron which is small but big enough for ironing and you can have steam or not and it doesn't switch off. Best of all it only cost £20!

  5. I have had my iron for 6 years and it is almost time for another. I had Rowenta but I won't spend the money. Next time I am at a thrift store I will look for one.

  6. Great solution to a problem I've also had! The irons with the noises that indicate they are going to go off soon are the WORST products ever developed.
    If you are worried about forgetting to shut it off, plug it into one of those timers that shuts off lights.

  7. I have several of the old irons on display in my sewing room. I really love the heavy ones. It feels like they are doing the work, and not me :-)

  8. Interesting post. I've been frustrated with the irons that are available to purchase. I go through an iron in about a year. It doesn't matter how much or how little I spend on one. I've decided since I can't find what I want anyway, I'll spend as little as possible. And the timers. . . ARGH!

  9. Boy, you sound a lot like me. I have one of these old irons too and for the same's heavier and stays so hot and presses like a dream. I wouldn't live without mine. They used to make these irons so much hotter than the ones nowadays. I don't see spending the money on these new irons when they last for such a short time. My vintage GE is going strong and I've had it for about 4 years now. I'm all smiles when I iron :)

  10. Thanks for doing this topic. I was thinking last night about how I might find a 60s-era iron like my mom had. I also hate auto shut off, and I want to try and sew more seriously. My iron (an estate sale Rowenta) just isn't working for me or my sewing.

  11. The only drawback to the vintage iron I was using was the fluctuation of the temperature. I scorched a few things. My Rowenta stays pretty consistent. I also wanted an iron with no holes in the sole plate and found one on Amazon by a company called Continental. It's very retro looking.

  12. One of my Rowenta's has had the shutoff die on its own accord so it doesn't shut off.....the bad news is if I forget or flitter away to do something else and some thing is sitting there boiling water and being hot. I decided I could either unplug and replug or.....use my very cute and cool red chicken 60 minute timer....a twist and it was my reminder....I stuff it in my pocket if I have to go up or downstairs.....I had a very brown iron burn spot in my brand new ironing board cover.....never replaced it, am too "frugal" and it was a good reminder....

    Love your new retro will you start wearing a vintage white ruffled apron to quilt in? Maybe a nice set of Leave it to Beaver June Cleaver 3" heels too......hehehe my version sneakers/jeans/oxford shirt/cable sweater/merlot/assorted bears watching and looking for cookies.....


  13. Great post! Sounds like we're not alone. I too, hate the auto shut off and an iron lasts me maybe a year. I will definitely be looking for a New, Hot and Heavy Relationship too!

  14. I have a vintage GE iron that belonged to a dear friend. It stays hot and presses so well. It's one of my "can't do without" items.


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