making peace with my iron

If you don’t sew you are probably scratching you head at the title of this post. If you do sew, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Next to your sewing machine, your iron is probably one of the most important tools you use. A bad iron hinders your creativity and a good one helps you execute your projects. I’ve been asked a lot lately at workshops and classes for recommendations for an iron so I thought I’d share my response with you.

I define a bad iron as one that doesn’t help fabric lie flat, leaks, oozes mineral deposits on say, a white silk blouse. A bad iron won’t get seam allowances flat and makes it hard to cut fabric with stubborn wrinkles.

A good iron helps the fabric lie flat so you can cut more accurately and makes your finished work look crisp and well-crafted.

As professional quiltmakers for the past 10 years, Bill and I have had a lot of irons. As soon as we found one we liked, invariably a student or intern would drop it and it would break. When we would try to replace it we would find that our model had been replaced with an inferior design. We soon realized that there was no correlation between price and quality of irons.

A few years ago we opened our back door and found a huge box on the back porch filled with various Rowenta irons. There was a business card inside of the person who had sent them to us. We called her to see why we had received this box. She told us that she wanted us to try them out and let her know what we thought.

Prior to receiving this box, Rowenta irons were the worst irons I had ever used. They leaked water and would spew scalding water on my hands as I ironed. I can’t count how many burns I got from that stupid iron and how many times I cursed having paid good money for such a dangerous product. As a result I was not enthusiastic about trying any more of them. Inevitably, however, someone dropped our favorite iron and I grudgingly pulled out the Rowenta Focus. I was astonished. It was fantastic. I couldn’t believe that it was made by the same company. We called the woman who had sent them to us and she explained that they had been totally redesigned.

We’ve been using that same Rowenta Focus for several years now without a single problem. It has powerful steam, never leaks and works as well on synthetics and wool as it does on cotton. They also sent a small travel iron that I keep in the clothes closet of our home for quick touchups of wrinkled t-shirts or sweaters and it works wonders as well. I would never have tried another Rowenta had it not been sent to us but if you’re in the market for a new iron, it’s worth every penny.

9 Comments

  1. Posted April 8, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Weeks, does the person who left this iron on your doorstop have a website? I’d like to purchase the Rowenta Focus from them based on your review… Tx!

  2. Posted April 8, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Stasia–Someone who used to do PR for Rowenta (but no longer does) sent them to us. I can’t recommend any particular retailer or website that sells them. Although we received those irons from them several years ago, we do not benefit in any other way for recommending them nor does the person who sent them to us. I wanted to write about it because I don’t know anyone else who has an iron that they like.

  3. Posted April 9, 2010 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    I LOVE My rowenta iron, actually I have had them for years and never had the problem others did
    I only use spring water in it because of the water hardness we have here, don’t know if that has anything to do with my success . I do have to replace the irons though every 2 years or less, I guess I just wear it out!
    I agree they are worth every penny !
    Kathie

  4. Get Stitchy with Sarah
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    I also hate my Rowenta. It leaks regular and spring water. and why should we have to buy water in plastic bottles to use in our iron anyway???

    I paid a lot for it so it hasn’t been replaced. but maybe Santa could bring me a Focus :)

  5. Posted April 9, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Sarah,

    I don’t know anyone at Rowenta but I am an advocate of speaking up when you have paid good money for a product that you are unhappy with. If I were you I’d call up Rowenta and tell them why you hate your iron and ask if they’ll exchange it. The worst they can say is no.

  6. Posted April 10, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    What a timely post! I had just been thinking this last week that it was already time to replace the iron I just bought last year. It was a cheapie and the fourth I’ve replaced in as many years.

    I so agree with you about it being hard to judge the quality of irons by price. I used to swear by Black & Decker but found the quality of them ebbed about six years ago. Have had some luck with Proctor Silexes but again they burn out fast and I have knocked a few off the ironing board and killed them that way. I “inherited” a Rowenta five years ago when my Mom died but was not too impressed with it (never heated well) and was already a few years old when I got it and it too eventually died. Sigh!

    My latest, a Sunbeam was great when I bought it but it’s now spitting and overheating. And when I went to Target two weeks ago to try to buy another, yep, they didn’t have any! So I am going to try the Focus (got a Bed, Bath & Beyond 20% off coupon burning a hole in my hand). I figure with what I’ve spent on irons over the last few years it can’t hurt to try it since I’m not quite yet ready to chance over $130 on a Reliable or $150 on an Oliso.

    Thanks for your review and wish me luck!

  7. Lynn
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    I dropped and broke my previous iron. Hubby and I went out searching for a new iron. He wanted a good iron. We looked at many brands and finally purchased a Rowenta Power Duo. I like the fact that it is heavier and I don’t have to “press down” when I am pressing seams. Interestingly, recently it was knocked off the ironing board, hit the ceramic floor and bounced plate down on a nylon carpet. You could hear broken pieces rattling inside. I was so saddened. I wasn’t going to pay good money again! But dear Hubby, cleaned the plate, put water in it and tested it for me. It still works perfectly! No problems with steam, spray, or leaking. I LOVE my Rowenta, even if it rattles. I will only have a Rowenta from now on.

  8. Mary
    Posted September 15, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    To your list of “good iron” features I add that a good iron does not die every two years — because a dead iron is a travesty of wasted metal and plastic, and a dead iron is a frustratingly interrupted project and/or missed deadline. When things break, I believe in having them repaired rather then added to the landfill, so for more than 15 years I have sent my hissing, spitting, mineral-leaking, no-longer-heating Rowentas to an officially approved Rowenta repair shop when they died. Because a new Rowenta works wonderfully well, I have stupidly kept buying new Rowentas to tide me over while my dead ones traveled two states away to await resurrection. Then about a year ago the Rowenta repair folks wanted $10 to return my unfixable iron for a decent burial. That so angered me that when my spare Rowenta died a few months later, I took it to a small appliance repair shop in my own city. “I do everything according to their instructions!” I protested. “I use tap water or spring water instead of distilled! I have never stored it with the water inside! I have never dropped it!” My local repairman told me that Rowenta irons are junk, the newer ones cannot be fixed, and the company wants me to buy a new one every year — if they didn’t, they wouldn’t tell me I could use spring or tap water in their irons. He told me if I want a good iron I need to go to an estate sale and buy a GE or Westinghouse from the 40’s or 50’s (my Mom’s wedding iron is still going strong after more than 60 years.). He said Rowenta isn’t the only manufacturer of crummy irons, just one of the more expensive. So I’m wondering, is there a way to be “green” and still have a “good iron”?

  9. Janice Willis
    Posted September 13, 2011 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Which model of Rowenta Focus do you have there are a couple of different models.


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