Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Vintage Irons

Have I mentioned that I love my vintage irons? My new favorite is the vintage GE travel or "portable" iron. I found one in excellent condition, barely used, and it's perfect for pressing my small blocks. The reasons I love it are that it gets nice and hot, has a pointed tip and is easy to maneuver because it's not big and clumsy. 


Most of my other irons gave out after a short time and I got tired of replacing them. I accidentally knocked the Rowenta onto the floor once and it was never the same. My fault, yes, but it was spitting and so, okay, maybe it was not an accident . . . Maybe I WAS a bit angry. It does seem like the vintage ones are made to last. Be warned, they do get hot but better too hot than not hot enough.  I have to use a lower setting for this reason and it's still hotter than my other irons. And, there is no auto shut off.

It's been great for pressing those small pieces for my Dear Jane blocks -



Works really well for making tiny applique too.

For a small iron, it has a nice, solid weight - not too light. I like that. The model I bought was made in the 1950s I believe. I really love the way it looks.



(See my blog post on making this cute pressing board.)

I found my little iron at an antiques mall for about $15.00 but I've seen them on Etsy and eBay as well. A little more pricey there, however, with shipping.


                           

My full size vintage GE iron. A little heavier but still that same nice pointed tip.


I loved the old look and wanted an iron just like my mom had. Don't be fooled by this "vintage looking" iron by Black & Decker, below. I bought one once and returned it because the plate was not smooth. Not smooth! The steam holes kept catching on fabric. What a stupid invention. Why would anyone make an iron that catches on fabric??



If you're tired of throwing away expensive irons that stop working and want something that's easy to handle  for pressing small blocks and applique, this one may work for you too. Something to think about . . . .





24 comments:

Paula Philpot said...

I have one and love it. It was still in its original box. Paula in KY

Paula Philpot said...

I have one and love it. It was still in its original box. Paula in KY

GabiP said...

I have six - all Vintage travel irons and love them for all the reasons you mentioned. I got so frustrated with the spitting and auto shut-off and the price of the new ones - goodness! All of mine have come from an antique mall, with the original paperwork and looking absolutely amazing. I have not paid more than $15 for any of them - most were $5. I'm a fan!

Kathleen Tracy said...

So happy to meet like-minded quilters! I just cannot pay $200 for an iron . . .

Sue Bennett said...

I have one like the first photo that you posted. Paid 5.oo and it was still in the box. I love it. I have already started looking for another one as a back up it this one quits on me..It is the best.

Paula Philpot said...

I have one and love it. It was still in its original box. Paula in KY

Cindy in Kansas said...

I don't like steam, I use a spray of either water or Magic Sizing. A friend found an iron for me on Amazon that doesn't use steam and has no holes. I LOVE this iron. They don't last forever, I tend to knock them onto the floor, but they aren't that expensive. I always have one in reserve. The manufacturer name is Continental. It is heavy and gets hot. It's especially good for using freezer paper for applique and fusible webb for wool. I'm going to start looking for the travel iron that you use.

Colleen said...

Oh...I'd love to find one of those vintage travel irons! I bought the same B&D iron because I wanted one like my mother used but I was so disappointed in it for the same reason...not a smooth sole plate and the hole had burrs that kept snagging my fabric....GGGRRR. I kept trying to use it off and on and then it finally quit heating up so I use it for a decoration in my sewing room.

Anonymous said...

I have the same GE travel iron, and I love it, too! Paid $2.00 at a garage sale. If I ever come across another one, I'm going to snap it up!

Lady Locust said...

Yours looks just like the one I use. Does it have the little water reservoir you can screw onto it? I loooove mine too!

Podunk Pretties said...

I have 4 vintage irons that I love. You can't beat'em! I also have that exact same travel iron and it's my favorite.

Jennifer M said...

Well Kathy I think I am the first to say I don't have one LOL. But, its on my list now! Your Dear Jane blocks are beautiful<3

La MaƱosa said...

I love using older irons, too! I have not tried the travel size but like regular sized GE and Sunbeam irons. They are heavy and hot and do a great job getting my blocks nice and flat. Maybe vintage irons will be the next quilting craze, like Featherweights? :)

kindredspiritjb said...

In response to Cindy in Kansas. The iron you suggested can be found in The Vermont Country Store catalog and on line. It is vintage looking and NO STEAM. The cost around $32. I have one but have not used it yet. This is the iron Sally Collins recommended a few years back (probably still does) for her small precise piecing. I am on a search for one like Kathy's. Lots available on Ebay at various prices.

Karen said...

This is great to know, as my regular iron is big and heavy. I have an old one like in the first pic, of my mother's, but I've never used it, as I knew it got very hot. I was worried it was too hot for pressing blocks. Think I'll dig it out and give it a try. Thanks!

moosecraft said...

I prefer my vintage iron over the newer ones any day! The one I have still had the receipt in it... from the 70's! :-) Now I will be on the look for a portable one like you have too!

Kathleen Tracy said...

What I love about the little GE one that is called a "portable" or "travel iron" is its small size and with that pointed tip it really gets into those tiny areas of DJ blocks so they get nicely pressed. Plus, many of these travel irons from the '50s '60s or even '70s were too small for everyday ironing so they got little use and mostly stayed in a box. You can find some that are like new and in perfect shape. But make sure you check the cord - don't buy one that is even slightly frayed.

Debra said...

I use a vintage GE iron in my sewing studio too. Works great and have had it for years - paid $8 for it. Best investment!

Colleen said...

I commented yesterday and have since been perusing Ebay for this iron. I found several. They average $20+ with shipping, which is quite a bit. They thing that I noticed in looking at the pictures the seller posted is the sole plate. Most are very scratched...like someone took a scouring pad to them or they are rusty. I also noticed that there were different cords. I realize some of the cords had been replaced, while others had the spring looking connector and others had the black rubber.

Can you give any pointers about what to be cautious of when looking at these vintage irons, other than a frayed cord?? Thanks.

Kathleen Tracy said...

Colleen - I don't know enough about vintage irons to tell you what to look for other than buy one that is in fairly good condition. Try Etsy. I saw some nice ones there that were cheaper.

Kathleen Tracy said...

Also, try looking for these at tag sales, garage sales or antique shops and antique malls.

makes geese said...

In a quilting class today another quilter said I should get a new iron. Why? My vintage one gets very hot, it's heavy so it presses, no steam so no steam holes, and it is small...perfect for precision piecing my repro quilts. Like all of you, I love my vintage iron!

Strlady said...

I have that same travel Iron and cannot agree with you more. I love it.

Anonymous said...

Kathy, loved seeing your vintage irons. I also have the one in your 1st photo, got it on eBay years ago. It's in the original box with the plastic water bottle. I confess I've never plugged it in, now I will!

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