Recently, my sewing machine hasn’t been silent, but it also hasn’t exactly gotten a workout. A few weeks ago I was super motivated to sew something special for me. My first garment postpartum. I pulled out a favorite bit of silk (first used here) since I figured my love for the fabric would make sure my motivation stuck around regardless of the other demands on my time (read: baby girl).
I spent all morning one morning carefully cutting out my garment pattern pieces from the silk. And, I literally mean all morning, hours and hours, even though there were relatively few pattern pieces. You might be thinking, “Wow, she’s really meticulous when she cuts silk.” But, in reality my cutting was only so-so. The reason for both the lengthy time and the so-so effort was baby girl. These days she can only stand to be by herself for a few minutes at a time. I can put her down for a nap, and she’ll be fine in her crib by herself for maybe five minutes. If she’s awake and I lay her on one of those mats with tons of dangly things overhead, she’ll happily play away… for fifteen minutes tops. The rest of the time she wants to be held close. She’ll nap just fine while being held. She’ll explore the world with great interest while being held. My solution has been to nearly constantly wear her on my chest in one of those snuggly things. In fact, she’s there right now. And, she won’t stand for laziness. No sitting allowed! My ironing board has become my work station since it’s tall enough for me to work at while standing. I can get by with a bit of laptop work since I can reach around her, though I have to admit I’m thankful I learned to type without needing to see the keys! Anyway, I always used to cut on the floor since I didn’t have a great table space for laying out fabric. But, working on the floor is almost impossible for me with a baby strapped to my chest. So, the silk got cut out in fits and spurts.
Then, I sewed off and on for much of a week. A seam here and a seam there. I wanted the garment to be perfect, so I used French seams and silk thread (the latter because of a tip I read on this post at Goodbye Valentino, where silk thread was recommended when using silk fabric). Unfortunately, the French seams were my demise. Having to sew each seam twice with pressing and trimming in between – oh my! If only I had learned Lorene Bonewitz of Sew It Up‘s tip to use your serger – blade only, no needles – to trim the seam allowances between steps. Anyway, long story somewhat short, having to sew a little bit here and a little bit there with a baby strapped to me means the garment’s construction does not meet my standards. The bias binding around the neck is a bit wonky and the sleeves… Oh, the sleeves. My efforts to use French seams for the sleeves were just all wrong. I’m still trying to figure out how to salvage the garment…
Thankfully, my efforts were not all in vain. Constructing this garment did allow me to test out an iron I was sent by Hamilton Beach.
First, a bit of backstory. Hamilton Beach reached out to me to ask if I was willing to try out their Durathon electronic iron with retractable cord. The iron I’d been using was ancient, it sprayed rusty water because I used to always forget to empty the reservoir after use, and it’s cord no longer retracted. I figured anything was better than it was, so I happily said yes!
The Durathon electronic iron with retractable cord promises to be 10 times more durable than traditional nonstick irons and to have 25% more continuous steam power than the leading competitor. I can’t speak to either of these claims, but I can say that the iron performed just fine for me day after day as I snuck in time to sew.
Unlike my old iron, which just had a temperature dial, the Durathon electronic iron has pre-set temperatures for different types of fabrics: synthetics, silk, wool, and cotton/linen. Each day I would plug in the iron and press the temperature settings button until silk lit up. Since each setting has a different colored light associated with it, I quickly learned to look for the yellow light at the start of each day. Once the light was done blinking, the iron was good to go.
You’ll notice above that the iron is proud to display its ten year warranty. That round sticker you see above is even on the other side as well! I did a bit of digging in the manual and determined that the iron comes with a limited warranty of one year on defects in material and workmanship and ten years on soleplate wear. This sounds great in theory but since you are responsible for shipping costs both to send your iron back and to receive your replacement iron, at this price point it might not be worth the time and effort.
Anyway, back to my test. Pressing went as well as I imagined it would. No magic was performed, but nicely pressed seams were had. One thing I noticed was that I couldn’t keep the iron horizontal and resting on its soleplate for too long before it would beep at me. When I looked in the manual, I realized that the iron has positional sensing and will turn itself off after 30 seconds if it is motionless while resting on its soleplate. What I was doing was leaving the iron in place to press the seam, then scooting it along the seam a bit, then leaving it in place again, and repeat. My little scoots were not enough to reset the position sensor. The manual notes that the iron needs to tilt more than 30 degrees to avoid triggering the auto shutoff. I learned to lift and tilt the iron in between areas of pressing so as to fend off the beeps. I guess that’s worth it so as to not burn my fabric!? As a note, the iron will also shut itself off if it is left resting on its side for 30 seconds and on its heel for 15 minutes.
Since I didn’t take advantage of the steam setting while working on my silk blouse, I tested the steam function on a wrinkly piece of black cotton (which I ended up using as the backdrop for the photo below since it turns out steam is hard to photograph!). The wrinkles fell out of the cotton quite easily, even though I realized after the fact that I had the steam set to its lowest setting. In fact, it turns out the photo below is capturing the least amount of steam this iron produces. Way to go, Amy! But, I guess we all now know that if you want low steam, you should aim the tail end of the iron at your garment! (Though perhaps the steam is coming out of the base because that’s where the water is when the iron is sitting on it’s heel??!)
I interpreted “continuous steam power” to mean that this iron can create lots of steam without any real pause in steam production. I will say that I was able to get it to produce a pretty continuous stream of steam if I pumped the steam button. But, even on what I later realized was the low steam setting, I burned through the water reservoir pretty quickly. In the future I think I’ll keep a pitcher of water nearby so I can get lots of nice steam without having to keep making trips to the kitchen over and over.
Now for my favorite part – the giveaway. As much as I enjoy testing products, the biggest reason I do it is because I enjoy sharing the wealth. In this case Hamilton Beach has offered to give away a Durathon Iron to one of you! If you’d like to be entered into the drawing, just leave a comment below letting me know. I’ll pick a winner at random next Thursday, March 20th at 7 am PDT. Good luck!