I often speak of my favorite things to do on the magazine, I just loved working on the magazine. shocking I know. Test Drives were always fun as they offered us the opportunity to get together with our Quilt peeps and talk about what we like and don’t like about product. No matter what the product there was someone who loved it, and someone who panned it, both with good reason.
Several years ago while working on a quilt my well-loved and favorite iron spit on the fabric leaving some crap behind. I hadn’t cleaned my iron in a while so that was my fault. I made sure to clean the iron regularly after that. I also stopped using water in my irons then. I had a bad habit of adding cool water to a very hot iron. I learned the hard way that doing this can and does crack the water reservoir. It’s possible to do this by pouring the water in slowly allowing the water to warm up and the iron to slowly cool down. I started using a spray bottle filled with distilled water, and a bit of cheap vodka or Flatter.
Then two years ago while working with RNK I changed how I use my iron. All of the Quilters Select, Floriani, and RNK fusible products have a low heat melting point that allows a permanent setting at a good medium heat. With spritzing the fabric (and letting it sit for a couple of moments before pressing), pressing at a lower heat I found I achieved better results with my fabric and seams. Late one night last fall while working on a big project something smelled a bit funny. I didn’t think too much about it at that moment, until I got up to press a seam, realizing the room was filled with smoke and my iron, my favorite iron* was the cause. I pulled the plug and ran out of the house into my front yard and left the iron there. Since then I’ve unplugged any iron before leaving the house for an extended period of time.
*I still love this brand of iron and would purchase again without reservation.
When the Oliso irons arrived late July there was a bit of excitement, who doesn’t love new product, but also some concern. In one of the shops I worked in we had an Oliso that didn’t last long. It was dropped on the floor more than three times and well you know what happens then. I’m not in the habit of dropping irons on the floor so it’s all good. In short order I fell in love with the Auto-Lift feature. When I take my hand off the handle of the iron the feet lift the hot surface of the iron off the fabric or surface of the ironing board. When desired this feature can be turned off, so if I’m pressing a lot of fabric or need to press a seam into submission it will stay down. The twelve foot, 360 degree pivot cord means allows me to plug in where needed and not worry about the cord twisting as I work.
The Mini though. Oh dear me.
The first thing I did is read the directions. Here’s the “Get Started” PDF. The first thing it says is fill the water reservoir while the iron is unplugged. As mentioned before I don’t add water so not something I needed to do but noted because it does make a difference. There are three heat settings indicated by dots on the on/off dial. One thing here is that they blend in a bit making it somewhat difficult to see which setting it’s on. Setting three is really hot so I really don’t go there. Setting two is perfect for pressing cotton, and setting one would be perfect for pressing silk, anything lighter and I’d use a pressing cloth.
The fit in the hand is great, just remember not to reach too far down as even my shorter fingers will touch the sole plate, ouch. The buttons for the steam (if you use it) are at your fingertips (thumb and middle) so easy to use. The slightly pointed tip helps nudge over seams, rather handy as a quilter I’d say. When I’m doing tiny piecing (which I’m doing on a quilt right now) this size and tip are great. I can see what I’m doing. Huzzah!
Everyone needs a Solemate ™
The power cord is attached to the back end of the mini iron making it impossible to sit like our regular sized irons, this isn’t a bad thing as Oliso provides a dual-purpose silicone trivet. Purpose one, the trivet attaches to the sole plate of the iron protecting the sole plate while traveling. Removing it is super easy pull the trivet away using one of the tabs, from the bottom up toward the tip. This leads us right to purpose two, flip the Solemate over and place it on the ironing board and use it as a place to rest the iron when not in use. This protects the ironing board and whatever you’re pressing as well as the sole plate.
When you’re finished remember to turn the iron off. I left my studio one afternoon for something and didn’t get back, the next morning the iron was still warm. While you can put the Solemate back on while the iron is hot, I’d encourage waiting about 15 to 20 minutes before reattaching, because the iron is hot and finger burns aren’t fun. And then there’s putting a warm/hot iron in whatever you’re carrying it in. Putting the Solemate back on is simple, start at the tip and work down toward the base. The tabs at the bottom are that little nudge for getting it back on. Then pack up and go.
I’ve packed the Mini Iron twice to take it on the road with me. I appreciate the size and portability of this iron. It’s a great addition to my quilting tools, particularly since I don’t need to travel to use it.
Check with your local independent quilt retailer for one of these beauties. If they don’t have the Mini Iron it’s easy to order. They may need a minimum order so ask a friend or two about their needs and wants.