Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Death of My Iron, and Who I Chose to Replace Her

In addition to the unexpected blocking of my website (still don't know what happened there - waiting for Google to come visit it again and take their warning off my site which could take many weeks . . . really wish there was some kind of customer service number I could call to work through this whole thing . . .), my beloved Oliso iron kicked the bucket recently.  My iron was something that I took f o r e v e r to blog about because I wanted to make sure it really was awesome before I came out with an endorsement.  It is, after all, a bit of an investment.


Oliso TG1600 1800 Watts Smart Iron Pro


I splurged on it after I did a very big project for my mother-in-law back in 2010.  It felt extravagant at the time to be sure (even though I got it on sale), but I try to get stuff that will be with me for the long haul as I am able (hence my little collection of Ginghers).  I was hoping this would be one of those workhorse things to add to my arsenal of sewing tools.

As it turns out, it was.  And then it wasn't.  It pooped out just shy of 2 years after I bought it.

Of course I was mid-project when it happened.  OF COURSE.  And my excitement to replace it was non-existent.  Up until it died, it was THE BEST.  Seriously, I loved that iron as much as a person can love . . . well . . . an iron.  But I needed a new one.  As any sewer knows, there is no sewing without ironing.  Sometimes it seems like 70% of sewing is, in fact, ironing.

So I was on the hunt immediately.  Having had what I assumed was the Holy Grail of irons, I didn't anticipate needing a new one for a very long time.  And I didn't hold onto my old one (not even sure what brand it was . . . I had purchased it in college sometime before I was a sewer and only used it occasionally so the fact that it was a cheap piece of crap didn't really bother me all that much) . . . what was the point now that I had an OLISO?!

Anyway, you can see how this put me in a bind.  I don't even own a travel iron so there was no way to finish my project.  While I usually take an obnoxiously long time to research all conceivable options before making any purchases over $20, I just didn't have that same luxury of time.  My maternity leave was going to be up soon, and I anticipated that the little time I had been actually able to carve out for myself in a week to sew was going to drop to around zero-ish as I readjusted back to work.  A decision needed to be made.  And fast.

So I turned to Pinterest first (yes . . . even before Google!) to see if someone brilliant had pinned an iron and labeled it "BEST IRON EVER AND IT'S NOT A MILLION DOLLARS".  Unfortunately, no one had.  And truthfully, I was gonna need to read at least some reviews on irons before purchasing.  Google turned up some interesting discussions on several quilting boards, I perused some blog posts here and there, checked out reviews on Amazon, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, Walmart . . . and within 24 hours I figured out what I was going to get to try to replace my dead iron:

Black & Decker® Digital Advantage™ Iron


With one of the bazillion BB&B coupons I have on myself at any given time, I purchased the Black and Decker Digital Advantage 2030 iron.  She ain't pretty (I'll miss my golden girl), but she seemed to have most of the stuff going for her that I was looking for.  Sadly, a few of my favorite things about the Oliso are lost on the B&D, but what are you going to do?  As I've been using the Digital Advantage for about a week now, I've been thinking about doing a little Pro &Con list between the two.  In case anyone out there is in a quandary with their iron options, I'm thinking this is the kind of post I would have loved to have found.  Sound good?

Here's what I loved about the Oliso:
  1. The UpDown feature.  Seriously . . . I really and truly loved that I never had to turn the iron on its side.
  2. It heated up fast.
  3. The position of the buttons for steam and spray.  I'm right handed, and I use lots of steam, and the placement of that button worked great for me.
  4. LONG auto shutoff.  As in, it will stay on for a long time before it decides to go to sleep on you.  As a regular ironer of clothing and stuff, this may not matter to most people, but to sewers (and probably quilters the most) having an iron that stays on when you turn it on is a wonderful thing.  Those auto shutoff things are a nice safety feature (who hasn't worried that they left an iron on when they left the house at least once?), but it is seriously a pain in the butt to keep turning an iron back on and waiting for it to heat up when you are in the middle of piecing something together.   To "wake it up" after it's shut off all you need to do is touch the handle.  EASY.
  5. The sole plate never needed cleaning.  Like, ever.   I even bought some iron cleaner sheets from the fabric store when I got the Oliso brand new so that I would be sure to care for it properly, but I never even used one.  Somehow it never needed it even though I ironed a ton and used plenty of fusibles.
  6. No water spitting.  Well . . . except towards the end of its life there.  :P
  7. Pretty color.  :)  This was not my number one criteria, but it was a nice little bonus.
Here's what I DIDN'T love about the Oliso:
  1. Ridic expensive.  Seriously . . . extravagant.  The price fluctuates depending on where you're looking and what time of year it is.  I think I paid about $135 at the time I purchased it . . . with a coupon or by virtue of a sale (don't remember anymore).  Currently it's over $150 on Amazon and hanging around $200 at Joann.  None of those prices seem reasonable to me for an iron that's not going to last for a L O N G time.  If I had $200 to spend on sewing stuff, I'd rather get a mound of gorgeous fabric.
  2. Would have liked it to hold a bit more water (not that it doesn't hold much, but I use a lot of steam so more is better).  :)
  3. That it died before I had owned it for 2 years.  Long enough to not have warranty coverage, but not long enough to make me feel good about how much money I spent on it.
Here's what I'm digging about my new B&D Digital Advantage: 
  1. The price was right.  With my coupon it was right around $30.
  2.  Digital display makes choosing the right setting for your fabric completely brainless.
  3. Gives you a little ding when it's done heating up.  Which it does pretty darn fast. 
  4. Concentrated steam bursts.  You can set it up to constantly steam or just to steam when you choose to hit the button.  Dandy.
  5. Not that I do this often (ok, I never have because I have never had a steamer), but the B&D does have the option of vertical steaming in case I ever get the inclination to steam my curtains or something.
  6. Larger water reservoir.  Both of these irons came with little cups with a pour spout to assist in filling the iron without spilling.  The Oliso's capacity was 2 cupfuls.  The B&D can hold 3.
  7. No water spitting.  Not yet anyway.
Here's what I'm less excited about with the B&D:
  1. It's been a week and the sole plate already looks like it needs to be cleaned.  It's still gliding well and stuff, but it just doesn't look clean to me.
  2. No UpDown feature.  To be fair, no iron but the Oliso does this, so it really is nobigdeal . . . I just REALLY LIKE that feature.
  3. Shorter auto shutoff function.  I think it's about 10 minutes, but to me while I'm sewing it feels like it's even more frequent than that.  The Oliso totally spoiled me on this point.
  4. The steam and spray buttons are switched from how they are on the Oliso . . . I'm getting used to it, but it is a little weird to iron with my hand on the button furthest to the right so I can steam stuff.
  5. Not pretty or special to look at.  I mean, who cares, but it would be nice.
All in all, I'm feeling pretty good about my purchase.  Of course, it's only been a week so I can't attest to its longevity.  I did work out the math, however, and calculate that with how much I paid for the Oliso it would be about the equivalent of renting the iron every month for about $5 or $6 a month for the last 23 months.  If the B&D only lasts 5 or 6 months, I'll be no worse off in that respect.

Or course . . . I'm hoping it will last much longer than that.  Stay tuned.

2 Comments:

Rachel at Stitched in Color April 23, 2013 at 4:05 PM  

That iron is definitely on my radar too. How is it holding up now that it's been awhile?

Skooks April 23, 2013 at 5:37 PM  

R - Good question. The iron is fine. It's not mind-blowing (I think I will miss my Oliso forever and if I get loads of money again that I can spend indulgently on an iron I might consider getting an Oliso again), but for $30 it does its job pretty well. I've had a little leakage here and there . . . nothing terrible, but it's happened. I've also noticed that I can't hang my iron up on my iron/ironing board holder without COMPLETELY emptying out the water. That annoys me. But if your budget is a bit more modest, I think this is a decent choice.

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