Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Gravity Fed Iron

Silver Star gravity fed steam iron.
One of the most essential tools one can have for sewing is a good iron. When I first started out, I had a Rowenta Professional iron. It was a decent iron and lasted several years before dying. Alas, when I went to replace it the Rowenta line had become popular and they didn't make them as well built as they used to. I am guessing they moved manufacturing to China.  I noticed they didn't change the price though. I was very disgusted when my new Rowenta didn't last very long nor worked as well as the first. I started buying older irons at the thrift store and fixing them.
As a design student, I had an opportunity to use some very nice professional tools and the gravity fed iron was one of them. They are not inexpensive. I saved up for this one several years ago. It is a very basic model and was about $200 at the time. Here is a couple of close-up photos:
Water tank
Iron with silicone coated shoe.
I did a quick search online and found a similar model on eBay for $119 dollars. I didn't recognize the brand name, Consew, that is associated with it. Perhaps it was bought out.
The concept is fairly straight forward. The large water tank holds about a half gallon of water. The iron itself weighs about 4 lbs. It is heavier than it looks. You press the button on the handle with your thumb and clouds of forceful steam come forth.
When I used this in my internship with a custom bridal business, we used it on every kind of fabric, including the silk fabrics we worked with most of the time. It has the usual fabric settings and I never scorched a thing with it, even pressing delicate sari silks with real gold thread.
Most importantly, it is heavy enough to get a good press. A good press vs. ironing, is what you need when sewing.
It is now all set up and ready to go. I will also note here that my ironing board is a heavy duty Mary Proctor ironing board that I scored at a thrift store for $7. I love this ironing board. It has wings that fold into different configurations and has a large surface to iron on. It is heavy and contains its own plug to plug your iron into. I don't use that feature as this iron needs a good plug and I was not certain that the connection was heavy duty enough. They don't make them anymore and my husband was puzzled when we were pairing down our stuff why I didn't want to let it go.
Here are a couple of quick photos:

The ironing board has been in storage and moved here and there so needs a new cover and a bit of cleaning up. The top photo is with the front corner folded down, the bottom with it up. There is a side panel that folds down but I always have it up to get the nice width. There is a cord holder cleverly stored and folded on the underside along with the cord to plug the board in. I am thinking that when I make a new cover I will have to take better pictures to explain and show off this gem of an ironing board. 
Of course, the ultimate in pressing equipment would be a vacuum pressing table. That starts running into big bucks and needs room.
A quick note on my dressform and then I am off to walk Twill. I worked on it last weekend and after taking precise measurements and fiddling around with the one I made about 20 years ago, I decided that I needed a new dressform. I had some credit at Amazon so I ordered an adjustable Dritz My Double Delux dressform. One of these days I would love a professional one with collapsible shoulders but for now the Dritz will do. I will give the details of  why I decided to go that route in a post when the dressform arrives.
Off to walk in the stormy weather, -Renee


Theresa said...

Serious ironing board envy here. I'm going to have to keep my eyes open for one of those.I have a crappy ironing board, but then again, I often just use the cutting table with some towels on it while I'm in process. What I d need is an assortment of good hams! Consew makes a pretty respectable commercial sewing machine. Not over the top in pricing, but like most commercial sewing machines, still pretty expensive. The Dritz MDD dress form is okay. If you aren't making excessive changes often, it does just fine. Rhonda gets the job done here.

R. Delight said...

Hi Theresa! We shall see how well she works. I used an adjustable one during that custom bridal internship I mentioned. We also had fitting sessions with the brides to be of course but the first muslin we made was on the adjustable. Keep an eye out for the hams at the thrift store. I have a nice collection I will be trotting out soon. I would love a commercial sewing machine. That would probably be the direction I would go if I had to replace the Pfaff. I am keeping my eye out for the Kenmore at the thrift stores now. ; )

Anonymous said...

I totally agree about the loss of quality in the Rowenta irons. Very disappointing. I, too, now have ironing board envy.

Theresa said...

Keep an eye on craigslist too. They come up quite often. I'm pretty impressed with this early 70's model. My Mom's old Kenmore which was early 60's was not near as nice and quiet as this "newer" model. They also still had decorative cams in the early 70's. Just as nice machines. Look for the Made in Japan, mid 70's they went to Taiwan. And the Kenmores are easy ( and inexpensive) to find parts and accessories for. Good luck, enjoy the hunt!