Heather Bailey did a feature last year called the March of Tools, oddly enough, in March. In this feature, she paraded out her favorite sewing and designing tools, complete with pictures and why she liked them so much. This year, she invited other people to join in. So here is my first contribution to the parade: my steam iron.
I'm not going to get any awards for photo styling, but how much can you do for this ugly thing? It is the Hi Steam MVP-35 and I love it. It is a workhorse-- we have two here-- one is about 8 years old and the other is a much more sprightly 5 years old.
It gets very hot, produces an incredible amount of steam and will ruin you for those "over-the-counter" irons forever. Now, it is not inexpensive, but if you are sewing every day and you go through one to two irons a year, this doesn't take long to pay for itself. And unlike some of the plastic retail versions, there is nothing on this that can be melted-- trust me, I've tried.
If you are lucky enough to have an industrial sewing machine supplier in your area, they should have this or a similar item. Otherwise, an online search will uncover several vendors. The advantage of a local supplier is, of course, repair. I have had to take mine in occasionally (like every three years) for various things, but they have always been fixable. The steam iron is heavy, but a piece of PVC pipe or fabric tube will prop up the iron holder on your ironing board.
In this system, a boiler actually creates steam under pressure (like a dry-cleaner uses), so the steam is not dependent on the heat of the iron. So don't ever refill the iron after it has been hot-- it spews like Old Faithful. The rule here is to fill it in the morning before it has ever been turned on. And the only time you will get water instead of steam is if water cools in the line from the boiler to the iron. To prevent this, I usually shoot a little steam away from my articles before I begin pressing. And water WILL NOT drip out of the iron as you iron.
Again, this tool is not for the every now-and-then sewer, but if you sew for a living, I don't think you will regret this purchase.