When selecting the best iron for quilting and sewing, there are 3 key features that make less work when creating your masterpiece:
- The iron should be able to work with or without steam
- It should be light enough to avoid strain on your wrist and forearm
- It should reach full heat in the shortest possible time
- (We also don’t love quick auto-shut-off times)
Our top 5 quilting irons all meet these basic requirements, and then some. If you’re looking for an all-purpose steam iron that can handle all fabric types as well as your quilting needs, we have every box checked. We’ve even included some great small and portable options for your next sewing retreat.
We have selected 5 distinctly different styles and brands in this review (Rowenta, BLACK+DECKER, Oliso and Panasonic) to allow you to pick the perfect fit for your budget and personal quilting, crafting or sewing needs.
1. Oliso Pro Smart Steam Iron with iTouch Technology
The Oliso is a unique iron with smart features that are new to the ironing game. Scorch guards, and an iTouch handle that lifts the soleplate from the ironing surface avoiding burns and reducing the number of times you even have to lift your iron. Full Review
- Scorch guards preventing accidental burns
- Scorch guards take getting used to, some people end up deactivate the feature
2. Rowenta Steamforce DW9280
This is one of the most impressive irons I’ve ever worked with, also making it the winner in the best steam iron for clothes category. Incredible steam output, dreamy glide, so easy to check heat settings and it’s so sleek and comfortable. Plus, that precision tip makes seam work so much easier. Full Review
- High Variable Steam and Steam Burst
- Combined Steam and Temperature Dial
- Steam Saving Motion Sensor
- LED Temperature Display
- Heats up very quickly
- Slightly more expensive
- 8 minute auto shut-off
3. Rowenta All-Purpose Clothing & Sewing with Stainless Steel Soleplate
The Rowenta Focus is an incredible all-purpose steam iron. It has all the features of the DW9280 except the steam output is less and there is no temperature display on the side. But, you still get that unbeatable Rowenta quality at a good price. Full Review
- Excellent Quality and Value For Money
- Super Easy and Comfortable to Use
- 35 grams per min Variable Steam Output
- 100 grams per min Steam Burst
- No Digital Temperature Display
- 8 minute auto shut-off
4. Rowenta First Class for Quilting
For sewing classes, the Rowenta First Class is a powerful and effective little iron that fits easily into a toolbox. Its collapsing handle makes it easy to store and carrys. This is the best mini steam iron with 1000 watts of power making it quick to heat up. Full Review.
- Highest voltage for a small iron (1000 watts)
- Excellent Quality
- Dual-voltage functionality
- Flat folding handle & carry bag
- Not ideal for ironing large amounts
- No auto shut-off
5. BLACK+DECKER Budget Wise Professional
This is a fantastic price for a budget iron that includes an LCD display, audible ready alert and performs satisfactorily. It doesn’t have that quality feel that you get from the Rowenta’s, but if budgets a concern, this is the best of the cheaper irons we’ve tested. Full Review
- Good Budget Option
- Audible Alerts When Ready
- LED Temperature Display
- Large 12 Ounce Water Capacity
- Fair Quality Build
- Fair Steam Production
6. Panasonic’s Best 360 Cordless Option with Portable Carry-case
This is a great cordless iron for sewing classes as well as home use. I love the convenience of a carry case and not having a cord in the way… ever… it’s a welcome convenience. The pointed front and back of the soleplate may take some getting used to as does resting the iron on its base instead of its heel. Full Review
- Cordless freedom and convenience
- Portable for classes, sewing retreats, and even mobile homes & camping
- Heat resistant carry case means you can pack it away even when hot
- Double-sided detailing soleplate
- Small 4 ounce water capacity
Buying the Best Iron for Quilting
If you’ve been quilting for some time, you will know that pretty much any iron will get the job done, but buying the right one makes a world of difference. To help balance out the frustrations and pleasures of quilting, a hot iron at the ready makes sewing and pressing effortless.
Amongst the long list of tools, you’ll need including a sewing machine, clips, cutters, trimmers and mats, the iron you use plays a major role in a perfect, pucker-free quilt.
For general ironing use, also check out our home page for steam irons in the home use category. This guide will help you navigate the selection process so you order the steam iron that suits you best.
Does the Steam Iron Generate Powerful Steam
The amount of steam your iron generated will influence the amount of time you spend ironing. The more steam, the faster and more effective your ironing. Steam helps soften the fibers in the material so creases and wrinkles fall away much faster.
If you need to de-wrinkle large areas of fabric or bed linen, a powerful steam output will hemp penetrate laters so you do not need to iron both sides.
Does the Steam Iron Stay Hot?
The iron needs to stay hot while quilting so it is ready to press the seams as you have completed sewing each block. If the iron you choose has a short shut-off time, then make sure its powerful enough to heat up again in seconds.
If the soleplate cools while you sew, it slows down the quilting process and you will need to wait for the iron to heat up before you can press the piece you have just sewn and before you are able to start on the next section.
As a safety feature, some designs switch off automatically if they have not been in use for about 10 minutes. This is great, but it can be frustrating. Some tasks can take longer than this then you’ll need to wait for it to switch back on and heat up.
Our recommendation: Pick an iron with high wattage so it heats up quickly. Also, check that the safety switch-off feature allows you time between sewing and pressing or that it doesn’t switch off at all.
Is it Small and Lightweight?
For traveling on quilting retreats, a mini-sized iron will mean less to carry in your toolbox.
A small, more lightweight steam iron means lighter work. When sewing your blocks and repeatedly sewing and pressing, you could lift and place it back down several hundred times. If it is light, your arm will not get tired as fast and you’ll be able to make quick progress. This is especially helpful if you suffer from arthritis.
Our recommendation: A full-sized iron is around 3 to 4 pounds, but in the case of the Rowenta First Class, its a featherweight 1.5 pounds of miniature convenience.
Does it Work with Steam and Dry Heat Separately?
Most quilters prefer to use dry heat when pressing seams, so be sure your iron has the option of working both with and without steam.
Check the size of the water tank capacity. Depending on how much steam you intend to use, a larger water capacity will mean you don’t have to refill the tank as frequently. Also, confirm the water type your iron uses. Plain tap water makes ironing simpler than having to use distilled.
Our recommendation: Conveniently, all of the above irons in our selection allow you to work reliably both with or without steam.
What is the Best Soleplate Shape and Size?
A larger surface area will mean you cover a larger surface area in one ironing motion and a detailed point, yes, you guessed it, allows you to do finer, detailing that is a key feature for a quilter pressing seams as well as for anyone navigating collars and cuffs on clothes.
New style iron plates also have leak-proof seals to prevent watermarks on clothing, look out for this feature to avoid unnecessary damage to clothing as the iron ages.
Should You Go Cordless?
We have included a cordless quilting iron above that melts away the competition in this category. To charge or reheat, it needs to rest in the power base where it stays hot until switched off. It’s easy to grab when needed to press a block and just as easy to return to its base when you’re done pressing or ironing.
Another added feature is that it tapers on both ends so you can work both ends, getting into tight corners of the fabric with precision.
Do You Need a Portable Mini Steam Iron for Retreats?
Both the Rowenta First Class and the Panasonic are excellent portable travel irons. The Rowenta First Class is ideal as it is both small and light. In fact, it weighs less than a third of any of the other quilting friendly products in our top 5.
The Panasonic weighs just over 4 pounds including its carry case, which is still impressively light. It has the added benefit of a double end pointed soleplate for double the detailing. Plus, after use, it can be packed into its casing and carried away, even if the iron is still hot.
We love that the cable which charges the base has a retractable cord which coils out of the way at the press of a button.
A key consideration when comparing the two is that the mini Rowenta First Class is less than a third of the weight of the Panasonic and much more affordable.
Make sure you have an iron caddy so you can pack it away and carry it easily even when its hot.
What’s the Best Budget Options for Sewers and Hobbyists?
The Rowenta First Class is the cheapest in our selection, but also the smallest. Although it is ideal for travel as well as attending classes and retreats where you need to bring your quilting tools along, the limited coverage area of the soleplate can be a drawback on larger projects.
The BLACK+DECKER followed by the Rowenta is out next best price beater. They are both excellent all-purpose steam irons that you can use for clothing too. The Rowenta is the more powerful of the two and is a well-loved and popular ironing brand.
What’s the Best Iron for a Home Seamstress?
The Rowenta is a high performing iron, allowing both steam ironing and the use of dry heat. It’s detailing tip allows home seamstresses and tailors high precision when it comes to perfecting seams, pleats, and other delicate finishes. It’s a professional, high-quality appliance that will last and offer you versatility with its comprehensive features.
Improved Reach and Freedom of Movement
The Oliso has the longest cable length of all the above products. It has an impressive 12 foot reach where the others are all around 8 feet, but this could also be a bit too long and get a bit in the way.
All the above products, except for the small mini iron, have a swivel action on the cord. This makes for easy access to the area you need to iron without the cord getting in the way.
Of course, the cordless Panasonic offers the largest reach, but it will start to cool as it leaves its power base so you will have to return it to the charging point after each sewing and pressing cycle of your patchwork.
This makes the cordless option less idea for ironing clothing as in will need to reheat and this could mean a bit of waiting between larger items if it cools.
For general clothing ironing, the Rowenta’s, BLACK+DECKER and Oliso are the best choices.
A Good Choice for Both Left and Right Handed Quilters
Left-handed individuals know the challenge of using an appliance when buttons and dials are positioned for right-handed users.
The swivel power cords on the Rowenta’s, BLACK+DECKER and Oliso, as well as the cordless Panasonic, means you don’t need to awkwardly wrestle the power cord out the way.
Is Smart Technology an Advantage for Quilting and Ironing
If you’re one of those quilters prone to forgetting your iron on your patchwork, then you’ll enjoy the Oliso’s iTouch Technology. The scorch guard ensures you have half an inch of distance between the quilt and the hot surface of the soleplate. This reduces the risk of damaging your quilts or a burn on fabric or clothes.
The half-inch hover also helps if you need to flatten a seam without burning your fingers.
A Good Choice in a Nut Shell
If you’re a home hobbyist or getting ready for a quilting retreat, finding the perfect quilting iron to add to your tool collection is worth a little research. Not only will you be using it for years to come, but it will make more challenging and time-consuming processes a pleasure.
We hope our review will help you select your favorite product and that Amazon will have it to your door in record time. We’re certain your iron choice as a quilter, or just for ironing clothes and fabric will be a great one.
We’d love to hear from you! Which winner did you select and why? Keeping an eye on the latest and greatest that the ironing world has to offer is our business. On your advice and recommendations, we’ll be happy to hear your feedback and revise our findings should there be another hot contender on the market… which we’ll no doubt take for a test run before posting our findings.