Carolyn Griffin Guest Blogs About Pressing Issues

Lazies, Carolyn Griffin of Far-Flung Quilts is guest blogging for us today with a run-down of her love affair with irons. Also, Sandie Hedrick won the bundle of fat quarters from last week’s post. Congrats Sandie! Thank you to everyone for your wonderful comments!

Now, here’s Carolyn.

Hello Lazies! A while ago, Joan and I were discussing the world of irons and Joan asked me to write-up an overview for you.

While we’ve know each other for years, and Joan is the reason I have a small business and quilt design company, she has never met my sewing room. So she doesn’t know my pressing set up – allow me to introduce you.

Carolyn’s ironing set-up in her studio.

My Equipment
Here we are in my sewing studio at home. I have a larger than normal ironing board (which needs a new cover) but I continually wish for a larger surface like a Big Board. The only downfall to my current large surface is when I need to iron small areas. So I have a little sleeve board as well. A Big Board or giant ironing surface is on the ‘someday’ list.

For years I worked with a heavy monster of an iron like my mom had – maybe a Sunbeam or the like. Then I started using those cheap models – both in price and in quality – when they became available in the late 70’s and 80’s.

Rowenta DG580 Steam Generator Iron

Love At First Sight
Somewhere early in my quilting career, I invested in a Rowenta iron. This was in the 90’s when they were the hallmark of quality in the quilting community I had joined. I loved my iron and it even impressed my husband – who during his 30 year military career did all his own ironing. But over the years, my beloved iron developed a leak. I’m told this was due to the washer around the water tank drying out and cracking. Okay, it was a good excuse for me to upgrade.

I bought a steam generator. Again, I went for a Rowenta, but now I’m looking at the Reliable brand for my next upgrade.

Invest In Good Tools
I see irons as a tool and since I was brought up in a family that believes the right tool for the job makes the job smoother and easier, I don’t hesitate to invest in good tools.

My Life With A Steam Generator
I was sure the hose and tank would drive me crazy. How wrong I was! Having the tank there to hold all that water and a hose to deliver the steam means I have a lighter iron in my hand. It also means my iron NEVER spits on my fabric – the water is in a tank 6 feet away. Steam is available at the touch of a trigger but mostly I just have the best hot, dry iron I’ve ever used.

Steam Is My Friend
Since I, like Joan, have sewn since childhood both clothing and other projects, I always looked at steam as a friend. I see it as important to manage – but I’ve always used it and never quite understood the people who touted using only a dry iron. Well, after a couple of years of using the steam generator, with steam on demand when I want it rather than all the time, I’ve become a dry iron user. Steam is now used only for reinforcement and discipline – like when a crease just won’t go away or a seam needs encouragement to open and lay flat. Other than that it’s a spritz of ‘Best Press’ brand pressing spray and my dry iron every day.

Thanks Carolyn! Up next for Carolyn is introducing her new Charm Wizard ruler – charm your scraps to pieces.


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24 Responses to “Carolyn Griffin Guest Blogs About Pressing Issues”

  1. Lori Allison — July 6, 2009 @ 8:54 am

    I love love love steam — I want a big tank of water too! All the steam I want?? It would be like being rich and never thinking about money! Thanks Carolyn for the great information. Lori Allison, Allison Quilt Designs

  2. Penny — July 6, 2009 @ 8:58 am

    Thanks Carolyn, I have been thinking about the steam iron and I wondered if they were lighter to use. I have several Rowenta and love them very much. Plus I have 2 antique irons with no steam holes for applique (they have not been used for quite awhile LOL). I did all my own pressing and starching while I was in the Navy and I have always liked ironing, it is soothing to me. Thanks again for sharing with us.


  3. Gita — July 6, 2009 @ 9:23 am

    I just recently got a Rowenta professional iron as a gift and have been considerating a steam generator for many years. After reading this post, I guess that will be my next new toy for my sewing room. Unfortunately, I seem to be running out of space.

  4. Wendy — July 6, 2009 @ 10:03 am

    I have used Rowenta Irons for almost 15 years now. I have found them to all develop a leak over time and spit.
    I have invested into the cheaper Black and Decker that cost under $20 and are basically disposable when they begin to leak. They do a great job and I have had no problems…..

  5. Margaret B. — July 6, 2009 @ 11:02 am

    I am with Wendy re: Rowenta irons. Have had 3 and the last 2 leaked so I gave up and got a Black and Decker! I kept my first Rowenta to use for fusing only and it works fine- I just wanted the next bigger soleplate so moved up! I even sent one back to Rowenta and got a new one which also developed a leak. Very disappointing.

  6. Jean Zeiler — July 6, 2009 @ 11:05 am

    Thanks Carolyn for sharing your ironing experiences. I have also recently started using the ‘Best Press’ and love it. It certainly beats the present ironing sprays that you get at your grocery stores.

    It really gives a very fine spray and no spray scum on your fabric. Also, it stops all the over spray onto your ironing board and on my feet. ha ha. Thank you so much for your input. Jean

  7. Irene Fuller — July 6, 2009 @ 12:21 pm

    I too have been the Rowenta route..only to be disappointed! Please share with me about the Reliable…where would I go to see one?
    Many thanks..

  8. Patty — July 6, 2009 @ 12:39 pm

    Right on Wendy & Margret. Rowenta is very overrated. I’ve had several and found everyone of them unsatisfactory over time. Doesn’t steam when you want it to, leaks brown stuff on fabric. I even sent one back when it stoped heating. They repaired it for a hefty fee and it didn’t last. I’ll stick to the Black & Decker or other cheap brands and throw it away when it don’t funtion properly.

  9. Carolyn Griffin — July 6, 2009 @ 12:48 pm

    The new Reliable iron should be available through your local quilt shops starting in late August or early September. This is the new, improved version #V100 with an 8 minute shut off, separate heating elements for the soleplate and the water and a smart motion sensor for the steam (shuts off if you’re not moving the iron). The Reliable company listened to all the comments on their last iron and then incorporated every one in this new version. Yeah!

  10. Fay Harrison-Bergier — July 6, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

    Carolyn, we are all fans of Best Press at our shop. Thanks for the heads up on the Reliable – we have looked at it before but the new model sounds like the way to go.
    We’ve been reading Joan’s blog for a while now and it’s great to also hear from you.
    We have been talking about you and your past visit lately and about getting you back
    here to teach Lazy Girl’s great new designs. Thanks for the info. Fay

  11. betty — July 6, 2009 @ 3:03 pm

    Very interesting, I have used Rowenta for years, also thought that I couldn’t live without steaming all of my fabric. My original Rowenta died and I decided to replace with a Rowenta. First of all, I decided not to buy any models made in China. My new Rowenta, spits all over the place, very frustrating. I do not use steam anymore except to persuade
    my fabric in a serious situation. I also use the Best Press instead.

  12. Jane — July 6, 2009 @ 3:57 pm

    Thanks for the info about the iron with the steamer reservoir. The information was new to me and very informative. I’ll keep a look out for the Reliable brand.

  13. Karol — July 6, 2009 @ 4:20 pm

    I too have had wonderful luck with Rowenta until the last one. It leaks. I tried the Rowenta Steam Generator and took it back. Terrible.

    Went back to the HI Steam gravity feed professional iron and a vacuum pressing board like the dry cleaners used (at the time I got them probably 20 years ago) It is great but……it requires filter crystals in the hanging water bottle. They only last a few months and are spendy so tried the steam generator and was not impessed.

    I have made a couple of the firm pressing surfaces that Sharon Schamber uses (she is a multi award winning quilter). One is 12×24 and one 24×36. I can lay them on my ironing board or on the peninsula in the kitchen.

    Amazing how much easier it is to press and fuse on a firm surface. is a video showing how to make it. She has a lot of great free info and videos on both her websites. is the other one.

  14. Bonita — July 6, 2009 @ 4:59 pm

    I have a White large steam iron similar to what is shown. I always thought that it was to bulky to use — maybe I will try again. Carolyn thanks for the post and I hope you get that big board your wishing for.

  15. Noel — July 6, 2009 @ 5:39 pm

    I, too, read consumer magazines that rated the Rowenta among the top irons so I bought one. In the beginning, I loved it, even though it was another in a long line of heavy irons. After a year, the dial that controls the heat by selecting fabric type fell off, but I could still turn the inner, unmarked dial and guess at the temp. Then the plastic connection broke and that dial fell out. Rowenta’s customer service merely gave me another address that I couldn’t access so I gave up and bought a Black & Decker iron (recommended again by a consumer magazine). It’s much lighter (actually, too light for my taste), but oh, the plate surface is awful. It’s not even smooth to the touch. So woe is me, I’m in the market for an iron in the mid-price range, mid-weight category with a smooth plate, few to no plastic parts, and reliable customer service. Anyone have any ideas?

  16. charnette — July 7, 2009 @ 7:49 am

    I have gone through 2 rowenta small travel irons one with the spitting and the other a short in the cord and ive also have 2 friends that they got shorts also!!!!! But I love the Best Press!!!!!

  17. Judi — July 7, 2009 @ 9:26 am

    I must be the exception–This is my 2nd pro Rowenta-It is 8 yrs old–never had a problem with leaking, spitting or any thing else. I probably just jinked myself-LOL–When my first iron was about 2 yrs old I dropped it and broke a piece of the plastic . I called Rowenta they had me ship it back and they returned a brand new iron–No charge! That is the one that is 8 and going strong. .

  18. bettina elliott — July 7, 2009 @ 10:55 am

    i loved my rowenta too, til it also sprung a leak….& it was only about 2 or 3 yrs old….
    now i use a cordless iron from target which is pretty neat, only i wish it got hotter. & i totally hate that every freakin’ iron is auto shut off…..i don’t need that feature & i feel that is why the irons don’t get as hot as they used to. maybe they need to be auto off after like, say 1 hr of no use, not a few minutes… anyone listening out there in iron maker land????

  19. Dawn — July 7, 2009 @ 4:59 pm

    I have the Rowenta surfline iron that says made in Germany. I must be 20 yrs. old. It is great. A few years ago I bought a second Rowenta iron which only lasted about 6 months till it overheated and burned everything it touched, scorching my favorite ironingboard cover. I replaced that one with a cheap iron from Walmart which works great. I, too, used to steam everything but now favor a dry iron.

  20. Edie — July 8, 2009 @ 6:30 pm

    I have gone through 3 Rowenta irons! Loved them in the beginning but all developed issues with leaking and one just would not turn on. Therefore, I went for the best steam iron I ever saw — a LauraStar iron. Wow! This system is fabulous! Steam and no leaks — works beautifully! Makes the quilt top look great! I have even received complements on my work shirt after working all day a 9 hour shift! Someone said I must be on my way to work looking so crisp! This iron makes ironing fun!

  21. nikki moshier — July 12, 2009 @ 9:52 am

    Wow, thanks for all the great tips.

  22. Sheila Perl — July 12, 2009 @ 5:39 pm

    What super information!
    Very timely too as my Rowenta Professional, made in Germany, is starting to spit and snort brown stuff on my fabrics!
    I must say that this was one of my favourite irons of the many I have gone through, it has lasted almost 3 years (!!!) and does not have an automatic turnoff which also drive me insane.
    It has started to give off a tremendous amount of heat however, and I have to turn a fan on so I don’t overheat too 🙂

    What is the Best Press? I have never heard of it, but now I would like to try it!
    Sheila in Mississauga, Ontario

  23. Andrea S. — July 20, 2009 @ 8:52 am

    I made mine for nearly nothing out of a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood cut any size you want. Along each long edge on the underside screw a 1″ X 1″ strip so that you have a channel that your existing ironing board will fit into. This will keep your “big board” from slipping off the ironing board. Put a little batting on it and make yourself a nice little cover with a 1/2 inch hem and run a draw string though it to get a good fit on the cover. To save space in my sewing room I put two 18″ X 18″ four-drawer wheeled carts (from Costco) together and my big board (without the ironing board legs) now fits nicely on top and I have storage drawers underneath for sewing and ironing supplies.


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