How a Sewist Sews Without An Iron: Day 1

I do have a “spare” iron.  I purchased it two years ago when the Reliable Iron Maven died.  I’m of the opinion that you can’t sew without an iron and since it was the time of year to be sewing, I drove to a local store and looked for an iron that could be used during the 2 weeks UPS would take to deliver my next steam generator.   My biggest concern at the time was finding an iron without the automatic shut-off. I’m not sure who devised those shut-off times, but I find that the iron turns off and is cold just about the time I get up from one of my machines to iron a group of seams. I’m one of those who sews as much as possible without crossing a seam, and then irons.  Consequently I spend a considerable amount of time at the machines and then about an equal time at the ironing board.

So anyway, two years ago I’m at the local department store looking for an iron preferably without a shutoff or  the longest time until shutoff but I don’t want to pay a lot for this iron because I think I’ll use it for two weeks every few years. So the iron is not expensive. I think it was $19.99, maybe less.  It is a steam iron, or so it claims.  It may be a Rival ES820.  I say “maybe” because even with as little use as I gave it the sticker on the bottom is barely visible.  I seem to remember getting a decent amount of steam but feeling this iron was way to light for any real sewing.  So today I figured that true sewing would be out of the question.  I mean I’m not willing to *move the iron and then lean onto it while counting to 5* and repeat *.*  But maybe the mending I”ve been putting off? I fill the iron with water, plug it in and wait for it to heat.

First up, DH’s jeans that need to be hemmed. He just wants jeans legs shorter i.e not dragging the ground.  For whatever retail reason, the jeans we find that fit his waist are most often 2″ too long.  When when find his exact size, we buy every pair.  Which is rarely more than 2 pairs. So I start by turning the heat up high and trying to press these jeans.  No they were not still factory fresh.  Denim has a tendency to shrink.  These have already been worn once, washed and baked on high in the dryer for an hour and ten minutes.  They wouldn’t press.  I couldn’t get steam out of the iron. I got wet. I mean the whole ironing board seamed soaking wet.  I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if the iron was set to minimum or maximum.  No matter how I turned the dial, the iron seamed no hotter and delivered not steam but liquid H20. But pressing up and down while swearing eventually had an effect and I was able to mark the hem line of the jeans.  I trimmed the bulky edge, turned the hem up the required amount and stitched using a straight stitch set to 5MM with a 16 universal needle.  I was surprised but Ruby did fine.  I was able to clip one seam and fold the edges opposite of each other, but the other seam was stacked.  Oh I forgot to mention that this particular pair is flannel lined. So at the seams, in addition to 4 layers of denim, I also had 4 layers of flannel to sew through.

The next item was a missing button on a pair of my jeans.  I stitching the button on entirely by hand. No need for any machine -not sewing machine-not iron.

With these successes under my belt, I thought that surely enough time had elapsed for the iron to heat.  I wanted to work on my slim pants.


I’m really pleased with these pants and want to tweak them and the pattern (Burda 2012-12 #148) to perfection.  I removed the waistband from the pant and trimmed the top 1/2″ in the back and 1″ in the front.  It’s a quick and dirty method to shorten the crotch length.  Having already worn these and laundered these pants, the edges were absolutely ruffled. I had no confidence in matching the edges up again, so back to the ironing board.  I didn’t refill the iron with water.  I felt there was enough water already soaked up into the ironing board.  But I did test the heat of the iron. I licked my finger and touched quickly.  Warm, but I’m expecting searing pain. I turn the dial all the way the other direction but decide it is warm enough to begin.  I”m not sure what did the trick. The iron never seemed to be more than luke warm. However as the fabric absorbed water-which I’m assuming came from the ironing board- it did flatten considerably.  With an almost flattened edge, I marked the amount I wanted to remove, lined up the edges and stitched at Ruby.  This time I used a 3.5mm stitch.  I’m anticipating needing to make more small alterations and want to be able to rip the stitches easily.  Project 3, done but I”m surprised at how wet the waistband is and leave it in the fresh air to dry overnight.

Next and final project for the day is a hem coming loose on a towel.  I fix these things. Ben Franklin was right.  I bought a good quality towel 5 years ago and am now making a minor repair.  I expect the towel to last another 5 years.   Ruby does fine. I used a narrow zig zag and I didn’t need the iron.

I unplug the iron. Normally when I’m done sewing I turn the iron  off, but I’m not sure where off is on the dial. So I unplug the iron and set it on a ceramic tile.  Maybe a little too cautious….