Choosing an iron

Choosing an Iron

The best irons hold a consistent temperature, produce plenty of steam and don’t constantly tip over when upright.

If you want your finished sewing projects to look professional, a decent quality steam iron is a necessity. A quality iron doesn’t have to be expensive, but like anything else, features influence the price. You can spend as little £14.00 to as much as £90.00 on an iron.


Types of Irons

Dry Irons

No bells, no whistles. Dry irons have no compartment for water, and therefore you either need to use a damp pressing cloth to help get out wrinkles or live with them.

Steam Irons

Steam is the best wrinkle remover, and is really a must for sewing. Steam goes through small holes in the soleplate directly into your fabric. Some steam irons even have a button that provides an extra burst of steam for really stubborn wrinkles. Nice.

Steam/Spray Irons

The additional sprayer shoots a little spray over the fabric just ahead of where you are sewing.



Manufacturers use different terms for some of the features, but by reading the description you should be able to match specific features to the terms below.

Heat Features

  • Look at the thermostat. It should have clearly marked settings for fabrics from cool for delicates, to very hot for cotton and linen.
  • Auto-off is a safety feature that turns your iron off after a period of in-activity. Some people dislike this feature because they have to wait for the iron to warm up each time they come back to it. A more expensive iron usually has a faster heat time, so check the manual if this is important to you.
  • An indicator light will tell you at a glance whether your iron is on. Not all irons have this feature.

Steam Features

  • Steam: Be sure of what you are getting. Is it a steam iron or a dry iron? Today, most full-size irons sold are steam irons, but travel irons are generally not.
  • Steam Burst: Does it have a have a steam burst button to help with tough wrinkles?
  • Spray Nozzle: Does it have a built in spray nozzle to pre-dampen fabric in front of the iron?
  • Water Tank: How big is the water tank? A tiny tank means you’ll constantly have to refill it. A clear gauge in the water tank is helpful. Some tanks are removable for easy filling and emptying.
  • Self-cleaning: If you leave excess water in an iron, it can cause calcium deposits that leave a white powder on your fabric. The self-cleaning feature removes excess water and prevents calcium deposits.
  • Calcium filter: Most irons tell you to use distilled water and to empty the tank when you’re done, but some irons have a calcium filter that allows you to use tap water.


Don’t automatically think a lightweight iron is better. A heavier iron is actually helpful because the weight does a lot of the work for you. A regular iron weighs about three pounds and lightweights are about half that.

Soleplate Options

The soleplate is the base of the iron – the part that gets HOT. With a steam iron, the soleplate comes in constant contact with water so what it’s made out of is important.

  • Regular steel rusts.
  • Aluminium eventually corrodes.
  • Non-stick soleplates have a coating similar to the non-stick coating used on cookware. Some people find these easy to clean. Upside: good choice if you’re a starch user. Downside: they scratch.
  • Stainless steel resists rust and will not corrode and, unlike the non-stick soleplates, are resistant to scratching.
  • Also, look at the width of the soleplate. A larger soleplate covers a bigger area.

Cord Options

All cords are not equal. In fact, not all irons have cords. Some people prefer a cordless iron – no cord to get in the way. Cordless irons heat up on a base and must be constantly be reheated, which can be annoying.

  • Check the length of the cord. A longer cord gives you better mobility.
  • A heavier cord is safer and longer lasting.
  • Look out for swivel cords – very handy.


Once you narrow your options down to a few irons you like, hold them to see how the handle feels in your hand. If you have a large hand, you’ll want to be sure your hand fits comfortably between the handle and the body of the iron. Alternatively if your hand is small the iron must be manageable.


Summer roses

Check out L’eau D’Issey Florale – very much true to the original but with a good layer of romance going on – very floral but still edgy.  I can smell a good red rose but it is still most definitley Issey Miyake.

A rose theme has also been introduced to the Orla Kiely perfume range.  Orla Kiely combines mandarin, coriander, black pepper, cedarwood and rose to make ‘Rosie‘, an up to the minute floral fragrance.

Sewing on a button

Sewing on a button is not a complex procedure.

Step 1: You will need

•    1 button
•    some thread
•    1 needle
•    1 pair of scissors
•    1 thimble

Step 2: Buttons
If you don’t have the button that fell off, get one that matches the other buttons as closely as possible. Manufacturers often supply a spare button with the garment, so use this if you can. If you can’t find a button to match you may have to replace all of the buttons

Step 3: Needle and thread HANDY HINT
Use a thin needle, and a thread which matches the material.

Cut a length of thread roughly as long as your arm. Wet one end of the thread to smooth the fibers together, push it through the hole at the top of the needle, and pull halfway through.

If you are sewing through really tough material like denim, use a thimble to push the needle through without hurting your fingers.

Step 4: Put on the button
Find the place where the button was attached. There will probably be a mark where it was sewn on.

Push the threaded needle right through the reverse side, and then back again. Pass the needle up through the eye of the button, down through another hole and back into the material. Don’t pull the stitch too tightly.

Step 5: Leave some space
Lift the button a little to create a small gap between it and the material, you will need this gap when it comes to fasten the button. Sew through the material and button, and back again, maintaining the space between the button and material. Repeat this a few times.

If you have a four holed button, move on to sew through the other two holes.

Step 6: Wind around
To keep the button raised a little, sew up through the material, but not through the button. Then wind the thread around the stitches attaching the button to the garment about 6 times– this tube of thread you’ve created is called the ‘neck’. Wrap around one more time and pass the needle through the loop to create a knot

Step 7: Cast off
Finish by passing the needle to the reverse side of the material and tying a knot. Finally bring the needle back through the material, but not through the button. Snip it off as close to the material as possible.

Step 8: Check
Fasten the button to check your handiwork.


I am always on the search for the most perfect perfume.  A line from ‘In a lonely place’ , a noir novel by Dorothy B Hughes just about sums it up for me.  The main man Dixon Steele describes Laurel’s perfume as the smell of skin.

To me, perfume should smell like skin; deep, warm and part of your own being.  I get close to this with Mitsouko by Guerlain – but it is Mitsouko at about five hours old that I like!……tricky to wear during the day but dabbed on subtly at 3pm in the afternoon and I am ready for a romantic night at 8pm!

Maybe….I fell in love with the story line of Mitsouko.  It holds the story of a beautiful married Japanese woman who falls for a British Officer during the 1905 Russo-Japanese war.  Mitsouko possesses great dignity despite the tragedy of her love affair.  Not suprisingly I have to feel strong and chic to wear this one.  My all time favourite every day scent must be Shalimar Initial – a fresher version of the original Shalimar.

For me story lines are an important layer when choosing a perfume and this is why I fell for Chanel no.5.  Watch the video and dream of being admired from afar.