Ironing is a big part of quilting...there's no two ways around it. There's a whole lot of math involved, too. I do WAY more math than I ever dreamed I would, all in the name of quilting. However, that's a subject for another day!
I've gone through a bunch of irons since I've been married. I've probably gone through between 12-14 irons in the past 14 years. I've kinda lost count, but I know it's a LOT. I should add, that once I started quilting over 11 years ago, my iron usage has gone up 1000%. At least. :) It absolutely makes sense that I've gone through a few irons since then. All that to say, when the folks at Panasonic asked me to test and write a review of their 360 degree cordless iron, I couldn't say no.
I really enjoyed giving this iron a test drive. I'm not a girl that likes change (my husband would laugh out loud at that understatement), so it took me a bit to get used to it. But I've been using it for a week and a half or so, and I'm loving it.
What I like about this iron:
The look. Silly, I know, to say that first, but it gives a good first impression. It's modern and sleek. I love that it's simple in design and very straightforward to use. All good things.
Ease of use. This iron has a simple push button to select the temperature rather than a dial feature. LOVE. THAT. The light flashes until the iron is up to temperature, which is very helpful. It also has a 10 minute auto shut off feature.
The weight. This iron has some substance to it. It's heavy (but not annoyingly so), which ensures a nicely pressed seam. I found it to do extremely well when I was piecing scraps together. The weight helped the scraps (even strings!) to lay flat. And to me, those are some of the toughest blocks to press well.
Carrying case. The iron comes with a clip on cover that has a handle, which doubles as a carrying case. An excellent feature if you want to take it to along to a quilt retreat or class. It's also handy just for storage. Not that the storage thing would happen in my house. :) But still a great and well thought out feature.
Detachable water tank. The tank detaches from the iron so you can fill it easily over the sink or wherever and you don't need to worry about spilling water all over the iron itself. The tank clicks back in place easily after it's filled.
Cordless. No need to worry about getting your fabric tangled in the cord when you are ironing! Also, the power base has a retractable cord, which is a super nice feature.
What took a bit of getting used to:
The football shaped sole plate. There is no flat bottom on this iron. I've been ironing for well over 20 years and it's hard to NOT just set the iron down just anywhere. When using this iron it must always be returned to the power base. I can see why the design is such...the shape allows you to iron in any direction at any time (the 360 degree feature). It's actually quite smart considering the fact that it's a cordless iron...it needs the power base to heat the iron, so it's very helpful to HAVE to place it in the base every single time. This feature did take some getting used to, but not a deal breaker.
Where it's a bit weak:
Heat. When not using the steam feature, I felt like the iron could/should be just a smidge hotter. However, when using the steam feature, I was very pleased.
A few other minor things to consider:
The power base remains on the ironing board (or wherever you choose to place it in your work area), so it will take up some space, somewhere, even when you are ironing. Very minor detail to me, but something to consider.
The cordless feature. When ironing large pieces of fabric (like the backing of a quilt), it doesn't have the constant heat source of a corded iron. I found it helpful to place the iron on the base periodically during the ironing process to make sure the iron was good and hot before continuing on. Usually this coincided with my need to readjust my fabric on the ironing board, so it wasn't a big deal. However, if you were ironing several large pieces in a row, I could see this becoming an issue.
One small story/confessional:
The day I got the iron, I was ironing and talking on the phone at the same time. Needless to say, I was distracted and I happened to set the iron down on the ironing board without thinking, rather than on the power base. (Force of habit!) The iron fell to the floor and I was so shocked/scared/surprised all at the same time. I felt completely horrible! The water tank had detached, but had not broken--thankfully!! I popped the water tank back in place and continued ironing. So, through that dreadful experience, I am happy to report that the iron is rugged! I assure you, I haven't dropped it since. In all fairness, I have dropped my other irons before, too, and it's always a scary experience. Thankfully I didn't get burned!
Overall I'd rate this iron 4.25 stars out of 5.
The folks at Panasonic are offering a discount to all my readers. The coupon offer is for a $20 instant rebate at checkout for the 360 Freestyle Cordless Iron
while supplies last. Enter the code FREESTYLEQUILTER
at checkout. The offer is valid through Wednesday, 12-21-11. Also, there is free shipping for a limited time on Panasonic.com
edited to add: You must use all caps for the coupon code, as it is case sensitive. I hope that eliminates any further problems at checkout.
This iron could make someone (you?) a dandy Christmas gift!