30 responses

  1. LisaB
    April 30, 2009

    Thanks for the review. I understand better what’s referred to as wet and dry steam now.

    Like you, I thought the iron would set on that end bracket. Instead, must you set the iron itself on the board with a silicone heat rest? I tend to use that end of the board to iron shirt yokes, so I’d have to modify my habit with a board like that.

    Reply

  2. Valerie Burner
    April 30, 2009

    I was waiting for this post to see what this unit was like. I saw the photos the other day, and wondered if the tube/hose was long enough to use on a larger surface (an old door covered with “ironing board cover” fabric) with fabric yardages.

    I was also of the opinion that the unit would sit on the floor. Do you find that it gets in your way? I love the vacuum board. I guess this means no more hams or rolls with which to fiddle!

    Reply

  3. Clara Rico
    April 30, 2009

    If the boiler sits on the platform at the end of the ironing board, what is the other platform for?

    How strong is the vacuum? Is it enough to lift a light fabric? Can you feel a breeze? I’ve seen, on a video, a machine that puffed out shirts instead of ironing them. I guess that is what I was thinking when you first mentioned a vacuum.

    Congratulations on your cool toys. Now Eric is going to send the ironing with you to work.

    Reply

  4. Eric H
    April 30, 2009

    Clara, perhaps we need to have a talk about the actual domestic arrangements ’round here. Take, for example, the laundry bag. It’s a simple thing, one sack with two straps. Developed a slight problem 3 months ago and wandered off to the shop. Haven’t seen it since. I assume that anything that gets sent to the shop ain’t comin’ back, so, … no, we’re not sending “the ironing” with anyone to work, unless it’s me on the way to a conference (because all hotel rooms are now equipped with irons).

    Besides that, we’re very diligent about shopping for clothing that requires ironing, as in, we never buy it. I have one shirt with a recalcitrant placket; so far, I have ironed it once, she has ironed it once, and I have been disinclined to wear it on all other occasions.

    Here’s the thing about ironing here: things are more likely to get ironed during the construction process than after.

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  5. Lisa B. in Portland
    April 30, 2009

    Heh heh heh. Eric, the way you wrote that is funny. :-)

    I’d like to have that same set up one day. It seems really awesome. I’m with Clara on wanting to know if it does lift a light fabric. At school we only had regular irons and ironing boards. Lame.

    Reply

  6. Els
    May 1, 2009

    You will love ironing and pressing with your new equipment and wonder why you did not bought is years ago.

    Reply

  7. Emily
    May 1, 2009

    Thank Kathleen for the clear explanations. Like Lisa B. in Portland, I have gadget envy now. :( I thought I was cool for having my little steamer! Oh well.

    Ha! Eric! The “domestic arrangements” in my house are very much the same. My husband recently brought me a pair of his pants that needed mending with the saddest most forlorn face and said “so these have to go in the mending bag now? sigh. byebye pants!”

    Reply

  8. andrea
    May 1, 2009

    Kathleen:

    Thanks for the product review! I also went back and read the previous entry on Reliable. I am actually moving my studio out of my house in the next couple months and want to upgrade some of my equipment. I do a lot of fusing for my bags and I can’t tell you how annoying my iron is. I will be buying from Reliable.

    Reply

  9. Kathleen
    May 1, 2009

    Thanks for all your comments everybody! This was helpful to me. You may want to re-read the entry because I’ve made some changes to address your comments.

    Eric/other DHs: You may want to follow the lead of The Boy who knows the most effective repair strategy.

    Reply

  10. Tom Willmon
    May 1, 2009

    Dry steam vs. wet steam as related to pressure:
    Wet steam is at a temperature near condensing/
    boiling, i.e. 212 deg. F at sea level (slightly below 200 up here at 6500 ft. altitude). Dry steam is at a higher temperature, will not immediately condense on your goods. You can produce dry steam by adding heat to the water vapor after boiling water (awkward to do, requires a superheater, common in old steam locomotives), or by raising the pressure, which raises the boiling temperature (same principle as the pressure cooker). Downside is the pressure and higher temperature adds to the burn hazard.
    Be sure to buy good stuff…
    Tom
    (recovering engineer)

    Reply

  11. Brenda P
    May 1, 2009

    I have a gravity iron which I purchased over 25 years ago. Could not afford the pressure one and stretched for this one. Non-commercial irons are a disappointment after using a better iron. Yes, there is more moisture … had to replace my regular ironing board. It is not a heavy iron (perhaps 3 lb) but to me at the time it did feel heavier. Even with the limitations of a gravity iron that you mentioned, there are a few pluses that would justify a commercial iron to ANYONE who is responsible for the ironing chore in a household.

    First, a “regular” iron is wasted effort. When you use a commercial-type iron – it really does IRON! The clothes LOOK BETTER. They resist wrinkling when hanging in the closet. After a few washings and ironings, the garment will actually hold that press through a wash. The more detail you put into your garment when ironing, the better it will look. Shirt seams will start to stay flatter. Time spent doing the ironing will turn into time well spent because the garments will look much better and stay looking better during a wearing. In sewing, seams pressed with a commercial iron will end up looking better. You can actually SHAPE the seams as needed. Good pressing during construction makes a garment easier to work with.

    Commercial irons are a time-saving and money saving endeavor. I used to burn up at least one iron per year. For the 25 years I’ve used my gravity iron – the cost of it now is about $10.00 a year and the ironing results cannot be compared to regular irons. The new generation boiler irons are fantastic. They make it practicle for home use if you are willing to pay the money. Your ironing results will outdo those from a cleaner.

    I love to iron and always have. I earned spending money ironing the little dresses from our neighbor. Her girls got crisply ironed ruffles and I got spending money doing something that never seemed like work. We’re remodeling now and my ironing station is in the works. I still needed to press things so I purchased a TOL Rowenta. Good iron but the results cannot come close to what I am able to do with gravity iron. If I ever wear this one out I will be looking at a pressured iron now that the technology makes it practicle for home use as well as all phases of sewing.

    Reply

  12. Lisa DOWNTOWN JOEY
    May 2, 2009

    all I have to say is DROOL!!!!

    Reply

  13. ClaireOKC
    May 2, 2009

    I agree with Brenda – after using the boiler, I wouldn’t think of using anything else – and regular vs commercial – she’s right – don’t even consider regular irons. I had a gravity feed, and it did spit (although was guaranteed not to), which caused just a few anxious moments on my board with some of my white silk. But so far haven’t had that prob with my boiler.

    Now I do cheat (and I have the smaller model), when I run out of water, I turn it off (yes, I understand about steam burning), and then get the water in a spouted container, and slowly twist the knob to allow the steam to release a little at a time, but this usually doesn’t take more than about 30 seconds….then pour my new water in, and re-tighten the cap, and start it and usually I’m back in business. I realize this is probably breaking all the rules, but I’m not a person who likes to wait for these sorts of things.

    On the steam – it is considerably hotter…I’m not into self-torture, but as we all know, sometimes our fingers are out there doing their thing, when “poof” a shot of steam and it happens – a burn. Well, I guess I had gotten used to the gravity steam, and when I first started my new boiler, I had to be very careful about my fingers.

    OK – enough of the comments about pouring water out of a boot, and getting fingers out of the way of irons!!!

    But my fabrics and pressing is much better these days, and on drafting, designing or hand-working days, I’m better at keeping my iron off when I don’t need it.

    Reply

  14. Liz Gerds
    May 3, 2009

    When I worked in the UCLA Costume Shop I fell in love with the teflon shoes on the irons. You didn’t need to worry about anything sticking to the iron, or getting scorched. I keep forgetting to pick up one for my home machine!

    Reply

  15. Robert Kahn
    June 4, 2009

    I was about to call you Kathleen, to see how you were making out with your new ironing station and vacuum & up-air ironing board, and there was your review posted weeks ago.

    So I’m a little late, but still thank you very much for the detailed review. It’s not often that someone will really take the time to explain professional ironing products, and demystify it for all of us to read.

    I also wanted to make a couple of comments that hopefully will help your readers:

    1. Our portable ironing tables have a “shelf” for the ironing station always on the same side (let’s call it the right side). In this way, the tip is always on the left. If you are someone that wants the tip on the right side, we produce a portable stand (i24) that will hold the iron station (i500) and can be placed to the right of the tip. In the “old” factory days, when we had loads of garment factories here in Toronto, all of the dress factories set their irons up this way. How you press is probably more about what you are used to, but I wanted to let your readers know that you are not tied down to doing it just the one way.

    2. The heating element in the vacuum board is not there to dry the fabric (popular misconeption… the vacuum does that). It is there to keep the inside of the board dry. Since our boards are metal (not plastic) and you have condensation forming on the inside, the last thing we want to do is let the moisture sit there and rust out the inside of the board. Another note is that while it does get very warm, as soon as the vacuum is activated, the “cool” air that is pulled in cools the surface right down. I agree that a separate switch would be handy, but it would also probably get left off enough to risk damaging the inside of the board.

    Anyway, thanks again for the awesome review. I’ve been traveling a fair bit lately but I’m mostly in town over the next few weeks, so if anyone has any questions, I’d be happy to answer.

    Reply

  16. Gigi
    November 9, 2009

    Kathleen, this post is really helpful as I’ve been shopping for a boiler iron for the past few weeks. At this point, I am having a hard time deciding whether to buy the i300 unit or the i500 like yours. Of course, I want the more expensive one ;-) but I also don’t want to buy more iron than I really need. I did notice that the i300 does not have a pressure gauge which could be the deciding factor. If I could just make up my mind I’d be using it already!

    Reply

  17. kathleen
    November 9, 2009

    Well, why don’t you come by my place to try it and find out? Speaking of getting you out of FL, will you be meeting us in Atlanta in May for SPESA? Best place to look at the coolest toys.

    I overbought on this iron but didn’t want to regret underbuying down the road when it’d matter. I always do that. Too many or too much of everything.

    Reply

  18. Robert Kahn
    November 10, 2009

    Up to 20 hours per week, the i300 is a good, economical choice. More than 20 hours per week, I would definitely go with the i500. The i500 has a much larger water capacity (2.5 vs 1.4 L), has a larger, and more robust solenoid valve for heavy-duty use.

    Reply

  19. Gigi
    December 9, 2009

    I ended up buying the i500 – it arrived yesterday! (thank you, Santa) I’m sewing some samples this week so it got a good workout last night – I absolutely love it. Now I want a vacuum board and maybe an i300 for the other sewing room. It never ends!

    Reply

  20. Robert Kahn
    December 9, 2009

    Congratulations Gigi. The i500 is going to make a world of difference to your ironing. Enjoy, and Happy Holidays from Reliable Corporation.

    Reply

  21. Beth
    March 12, 2010

    Kathleen, I am able to buy either a i500 and C-81 vacuum table, or a gravity feed iron (Naomoto HYS58). I am an avid home sewer, and sew mostly for myself-silks, tailoring, pants, knits, blouses, etc. I would have my set-up in an apartment, so I don’t have room for both. How do the 2 systems compare for garment construction (I’ve never used a vacuum board)? I know the i500 would be awesome for steaming yardage, final pressing, and laundry pressing. Thank you for your review!

    Reply

  22. Robert Kahn
    March 12, 2010

    Beth, I’d be happy to give you my 0.2 cents worth on this one.

    A gravity feed iron and a steam iron station are two very different beasts. One is pressurized steam, the other is not. The amount of steam that is produced is in two different leagues. Many people who do a lot of ironing will find a benefit to having the steam iron station (i500) over a gravity feed iron. A gravity feed iron is really a glorified home iron with a large water tank. The steam it produces is much the same. The real benefit of a gravity iron is you don’t need to refill it as often as a home iron. So if you are looking for the best quality steam, go for the ironing station. If you are less concerned about the volume of steam, but looking for an iron with a larger water capacity than a home iron, go for the gravity feed system (BTW, the i500 is rated for up to 4 hours of use, so it does have a sizable water tank as well).

    The benefits of the C81 vacuum/up-air table are numerous. It really allows you to get a professional finish. It will also save you time, since you won’t need to pass over the fabric in an attempt to dry it.

    With the C81, you can also place the i500 right at the end of the board on the tray that’s provided. Space wise, the C81/i500 will take up the same space as a C81/gravity feed iron. We do make an optional swing arm for the C81 (see Kathleen’s review above) and we make a bottle holder option for those that already have a gravity iron.

    I hope that helps.

    Reply

  23. Beth
    March 12, 2010

    Robert, Thank you for your reply, it is very helpful. I have also looked at the C-88 vacuum board, and would appreciate a comparison between the C-88 and C-81. Thanks again!

    Reply

  24. Robert Kahn
    March 12, 2010

    Beth, my pleasure. The C81 is more versatile for a wide variety of garments. The C81 with the addition of the up-air (blowing) feature is great for ironing delicate garments, garments with construction (like jackets, pants) and any fabric with a nap. Having up-air is a real bonus for this type of work, because there are occasions when you can’t use vacuum because it will leave an impression.

    For ironing basic garments (dress shirts for example) the C88 is the best choice. While it doesn’t have the up-air feature, it does have a larger and more powerful vacuum motor, making drying time even faster.

    So if speed is your top priority, go for the C88. If you are looking for versatility, go for the C81.

    All the best.

    Reply

  25. Emma
    August 6, 2010

    I know this post was a while ago but I’m hoping someone will be able to answer my question. I would love to have the set-up that you have described but as I live in Australia I despair think that is impossible. I hope that someone will be able to recommend something which I can get here (whether by shipping it or actually purchasing it here.) Thank you for your time and any advice is welcome!

    Reply

  26. Robert Kahn
    August 6, 2010

    Emma, we are certainly able to ship our products to Australia. Currently we have the i500 and the C88 (vacuum only) available in 220V. Alternatively you can buy them in 120V and use a 220V transformer. Feel free to email me directly and I would be happy to look after you.
    Robert

    Reply

  27. mrs. u
    March 24, 2011

    hi! Thank you so much for posting this and also to everyone who commented. It has really helped me understand and learn about these products. Although this post is from a while ago, I’m hoping someone can help me. I have a couple questions:

    1. Like Valerie B., after looking at the pictures, I also wondered if the hose was long enough to use on a larger surface.

    2. Also, how “portable” is the i300?

    Thank you so much in advance for answering my questions.

    Reply

  28. Robert Kahn
    March 28, 2011

    Mrs. U, yes, the i300 hose set should be long enough for most applications. It’s 6 feet in length. If you need a longer hose, you’ll need to move up to the i500. The i500 comes with a standard 7.2′ hose and an optional 11.5′ hose is available. All of these models are “portable”. They can be moved easily if the need arises. I hope that helps.

    Reply

  29. Renee Corrick
    October 21, 2011

    Hi Kathleen,
    I know this is a really old post, but I’m thinking of upgrading to something similar myself (have emailed Robert Kahn separately)… after my most recent “high end” home iron decided to gradually empty its own reservoir all over the carpet floor @ school. Nice. Anyway, my question for you is, now that you’ve had this set up for a while, do you wish you had’ve upgraded years earlier? Was the initial sticker shock what stopped you (I think I read somewhere that you’d looked at boiler irons before for ~$1000)? I’m wondering if I’m jumping the gun while I’m still learning / refining aesthetic etc… though I’d like to have my own in-house manufacturing (small scale) happening in the not too distant future.

    Reply

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