When selecting the best iron for quilting and sewing, there are some key features that make a big difference:
- Works with or without steam
- Lightweight and ergonomic
- Fast heating time
- Long auto-shut-off (or none at all)
Our top 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. Also visit our best sewing machine for quilting page and for more irons, go here.
We have selected a few distinctly different styles and brands in this review to allow you to pick the perfect fit for your budget and personal quilting, crafting or sewing needs.
Best Iron for Quilting and Sewing
1. Rowenta Steamforce – 1800 Watts
This is one of the most impressive irons I’ve ever worked with, also making it our winner in the best steam iron overall.
Power: It is an absolute beast with 1800 watts of power. It’s literally the fastest iron we’ve ever used and heats up in almost half the time of an average iron. This is helpful in quilting and sewing when you have to set it aside while you work and the auto-off feature kicks in.
Steam: No iron compares with the SteamForce with it’s insane 210g/min steam burst created by the built in steam generator. You can cut ironing time in half as the steam output penetrates the fabric comparable to a commercial laundry iron.
Weight: At 3.85, it’s a litte heavier than it’s competitors. This does mean that you don’t have to press down on the fabric while ironing as the weight of the iron does most of the work.
Other: It is a pricier iron and this does put some people off. However, if you can afford the upgrade you’ll be owning the best iron we could possibly recommend. I have personally use this iron for a couple of years and it is simply the best there is. The large digital display on the side makes choosing the right temp setting an absolute breeze and you can never go wring with Rowenta’s quality manufacturing.
Some people have claimed that this iron leaks, but I can assure you, the problem is most likely the overproduction of steam resulting in some hissing and spitting. Thankfully the iron is intelligent enough to actually switch off steam production when it’s not being used.
So in summary… 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 (65g/min) and Steam Burst (210g/min)
- Combined Steam and Temperature Dial
- Steam Saving Motion Sensor
- LED Temperature Display
- Heats up very quickly
- Slightly more expensive
- 8 minute auto shut-off
2. Rowenta DW5080 Quilting Iron – 1700 Watts
The Rowenta Focus is an incredible all-purpose steam iron which is perfect for quilting and sewing. It has most of the features of the Rowenta Steamforce (shown below) but at around $60 cheaper! Let’s see how it compares with it’s more expensive sibling.
Power: As far a power goes, the Focus 5080 has 1700 watts and the SteamForce has 1800. This makes it a little slower to heat up but the difference is quite negligible. You may need an extra 15 seconds to reach full heat.
Steam: The steam output is great but doesn’t match the SteamForce with it’s built in steam generator. Thankfully, for quilting and sewing, this isn’t always a problem since you’re not ironing massive loads of laundry at one time. Instead, your picking up and placing down the iron several times while working.
Weight: It weight 3.4 pounds compared to the 3.85 pounds of the SteamForce. This is a really welcome relief when quilting since you don’t need the weight as much as you need the mobility.
Other: The Focus 5080 actually has a see-through body which makes filling it a little easier. It doesn’t have the digital display of the SteamForce but the heat control dial is smooth and precise. Both irons have 400 evenly spread steam holes which results in less effort on your part to get fabric and seams perfectly flat while quilting or sewing. Rowenta’s excellent quality on both irons is unmistakable. You can feel it in the smooth button presses and the glide of the soleplate. There also a tapered precision tip on both Rowentas. Personally, I love the slightly matt feel of the Focus 5080 a little more than the SteamForce and the significant saving in price is what makes it my first choice. Full Review
- Excellent Quality and Value For Money
- Super Easy and Comfortable to Use
- Good Variable Steam (35g/min) and Steam Burst (100g/min)
- No Digital Temperature Display
- 8 minute auto shut-off
3. Laurastar Lift
Laurastar is the ultimate name in steam generator irons. If you want to have an almost unlimited amount of steam production with delicate, even flow, this is a good choice.
The Dry Microfine Steam (DMS) system is designed to keep the fabric dry while steaming it, avoiding puckering in the quilting material.
- Absolute pinnacle of steam generators
- Dry microfine steam system
- Removable water tank
- Very Quiet
- A little pricey, but worth every cent
4. Rowenta Steam Generator for Quilting
Another steam generator for quilting and sewing is the the Rowenta DG8520. It’s quite a bit cheaper than the Laurastar but still generates 5 bars of pressure that creates a steam output of 80 grams per minute. The large 47 ounce water tank offers up to 90 minutes of uninterrupted ironing. Another fantastic reason this is a good choice for quilters it that there is no auto shut-off feature so you can iron for as long as you need without having to restart the iron. Full Review.
- Large 47 ounce water capacity
- Energy-saving settings
- Removable water tank
- A little noisy when the pump builds steam pressure
- No auto-off safety feature
5. Rowenta First Class
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
6. Black and Decker Budget Quilting Iron
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
7. Panasonic Cordless
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
What to Look for in a Quilting Iron
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.
Among 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.
Remember to visit our home page for more tips, and guides.
Powerful Steam Output
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 layers so you do not need to iron both sides.
Quick Heating Time
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.
Quality and Durability
If you’re using the iron for quilting or any sewing work, you’d better get a durable iron which can stand the rigorous tasks you’ll be using it for. This means going for the top brand like Rowenta, Oliso and Black and Decker… all trusted names in terms of quality.
Size and Weight
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.
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.
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.
This ultimately comes down to personal preference with stainless steel being the more commonly liked soleplate and some quilters opting for the less traditional ceramic coating. We personally don’t prefer ceramic as it is pretty hard to clean if you accidentally burn a small piece of fabric onto it. Mistakes happen after all and you’ll want to be able to clean your iron without the constant worry of losing the ceramic coating.
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.
Optional Dry Ironing
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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 are 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.
What’s 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.
Which Way do You Press Seams When Quilting?
You can choose any direction as long as you stick to a plan… let me explain.
You may choose to press both seams towards the darker fabric of the two, resulting in a smoother “visual” seem.
The benefit of this is, when creating the quilting patchwork, one tends to alternate between light and dark colors. When the seems are all pressed towards the darker fabric, it will be pressed to the other side on the next quilt swatch since the quilting pattern is (usually) continuously alternated. This makes the two adjacent seems on each four-square face in the opposite directions which makes them fit like a glove and creates a lower seam profile as there is reduced overlapping.
Do you Press Seams Open When Quilting?
Ideally not. As explained in the previous paragraph, if you choose to iron seems in one direction, you can “puzzle” together the pieces of the quilt more easily. By choosing the darker fabric as the seam direction, the seam alternates as you continually reverse the pattern.
Can you iron a quilt with batting in it?
How do you get wrinkles out of wool batting?
Should I iron my finished quilt?
Should I Iron Each Piece of Fabric Before Cutting?
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.