August 14, 2010

The best iron ever

Quilters are always on the search for the best iron. For regular sewing on the ironing board, I use a Black & Decker Digital Advantage and am happy with it. But if I'm ironing more than a small length or two of fabric, I turn on my Ironrite mangle ironer. It is a joy to use--both because it irons yardage quickly and beautifully (I can't imagine ironing dyed yardage without it) and because each time I sit at the machine, I think about my mother. My mother would wheel the machine into the kitchen when it was time to iron. She used it not only for sheets and tablecloths, but also for my father's shirts. She was delighted, though, when cotton/polyester blends eliminated the need for her to iron, and when she and my dad moved to a condo, the ironer was stored in the basement. She would have given it away, but I said I was interested in it. I wasn't a quilter then, but I like linen table cloths, and my mother and her sister had both given me all of theirs, as they were happy with permapress replacements. Ironing a linen table cloth by hand is really tedious, though, so I didn't use the tablecloths very much. When my parents died in 2003 and we emptied their condo, the Ironrite came to me. By that time, I was also quilting, and I use it regularly. Nothing like it. I'm guessing this one was purchased in the 1940s (my parents married in 1942), and it is still working fine. They are no longer made, but can sometimes be found online. For a website with information:
And if you're interested to see how the ironer works, check out this great promotional video from the 40s: The video begins with the fancy stuff (helps me remember how my mother did my father's shirts), but for the demonstration of ironing flat yardage, fast forward to 6:30 for sheets (you wouldn't want to fold up the material first like this, but you'll see how the general process works). Don't miss the scene at 7:37 of what happens with the sheets. Then keep watching from 7:57 to see her do a tablecloth (no folds--this is how I do yardage).

Here's the machine closed up. My mother put some gray contact paper on top--she used that surface for folding laundry.

I like the company logo:


  1. That Ironrite movie is hysterical! I hope you get in the "Ironrite rhythm" when you work at this time saving appliance, Penny! Seriously, it does look like the perfect thing to use for your work with fabric, but if I find out you've been ironing David's pants pockets and pressing the seams so he can play a better game of golf, we'll have to talk.... ha!

  2. This brings back nice memories of Mommy!


  3. I had never heard of one of these machines until about a week ago, my mother told me about them from her childhood. I want one for ironing yardage, as I am a quilter & like to wash my fabrics first (which involves a LOT of ironing).
    Have you had any problems with yours working? What model do you have? I wish they would make these again. I don't want the new plastic one by Miele, & have heard from others that it doesn't get hot enough; not that I could justify that ($ range) for my hobbies. I loved the film & hope it will be around for a while for any of us who hope to master using one of these. Thanks!

  4. Dear Anonymous--I can't reply directly to you, as you didn't enable e-mail, so I'll answer here: No, I've not had any problems with mine working. I cannot find a model number. Besides checking online to buy one, you might put a want ad in your local newspaper--there may be one sitting around in someone's basement! Good luck.

  5. How lucky you are to have your mom's mangle. I bet it brings back lots of memories.