Can I write a whole post about irons? Let's find out.
Today, my iron died. The old Rowenta made a funny smell, and then it started cooling off and wouldn't get hot again, even when I shook it. This tipped me off that something was wrong. The light was still on, so I took it to my boyfriend, who knows about things that run off of electricity. He pried it apart, did some stuff (yes, I was there, no, I don't know what, exactly) and confirmed that it was dead.
Now, this particular iron was sent with me to college by my mother. She assumed I needed an iron, because I had clothes, I guess, plus, I think she wanted a new one. This one might be as old as I am. She probably remembered, like I do, me ironing my Dad's handkerchiefs (really, handkerchiefs-geez Dad was in his 30s, not his 80s!?) with that same iron when I was maybe seven years old. I remember ironing shirts, too. I'm sure she had to redo those! However, by the time I got to college, ironing was not my thing, and I don't think I touched the thing but once or twice except to move it with me to the 14 different places I lived over the next 10 years. If it didn't come out of the drier looking good, it either went away or I wore it wrinkled.
All that changed the day I decided to start quilting. I reluctantly figured out that that iron and I were going to become best friends, and I used the hell out of that iron, although I still didn't iron any clothes. At first, I pressed all my seams open...I don't know why. Seemed like a good idea. I also actually ironed my fabric and my blocks!. As in, scrubbing, back and forth, back and forth. Ohhhhh, I didn't know it at the time, but I made my life very difficult that way. Matching seams and sewing blocks together seemed impossible. Then, I started reading blogs, learned about "pressing" and eventually took a class on accuracy. Half of that class involved an iron. It was the first time I heard of setting seams and I also learned the correct ways to press seams to one side, press fabric, and press a completed block. Man there are a lot of things that a quilter needs to do that require an iron.
For the past two and a half years, for worse and then for much better, that iron and I have been daily companions. Now, she is no more. And I need a new iron, pronto! Can't do a thing without an iron. But how do you pick an iron? They all seem comparable from $30-$200. Stainless vs. non-stick sole seems to be a big question. Wattage, vertical steam (who cares?), auto-off. They all have all these features. Brand name? (Keep in mind I'm looking at Target and Wal-mart here.) Black and Decker, Sunbeam, Rival, Rowenta, Hamilton Beach. Who knows? Any advice would be appreciated, even though I already bought a cheapo to get me through.