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Gravity Feed Irons

twosprings | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

would appreciate current users of gravity feed irons sharing opinions of the best iron, advantages, disadvantages.



  1. raven99 | | #1

    I have a Silver Star gravity feed iron. I've had it for about 5 years and have nothing negative to say about it. It gets good and hot and it never spits. If I had to list a disadvantage, it would be lack of portability, but if you're looking for portability, you wouldn't be interested in gravity feed irons in the first place. Many descriptions of conventional irons seem to point out how lightweight they are, and I believe that in general gravity feed irons are heavier, but I consider that a good thing. I don't think I could ever go back to using a conventional iron.

    Silver Star is the only gravity feed iron I've ever owned so I'm afraid I can't offer any comparisons.


    1. twosprings | | #2

      Marionc,thank you so much for your prompt reply. and i do agree.....need hot and heavy, as it were, rather than light and portable. do you know the Silver Star model #?twosprings

      1. raven99 | | #3

        I have an ES 85 AF, and in fact I've had it almost 7 years which is a record for me with irons. I did a quick google search on that particular model, but got no hits for it. Maybe that model isn't available in the US (I'm in Canada), but there were several other models available. Take a look at:http://www.allbrands.com/products/abc0365.htmlHTH

        1. twosprings | | #4

          thank you, again, for the information. i am also considering incorporating some sewing specific cupboards and cabinetry into a room we are adding. what do you consider "absolute must-haves"? are there certain table heights best for cutting, and or sewing? twosprings

          1. mainestitcher | | #5

            I've had a Pacific Steam for about a year, No Problems. If you want to go for the big bucks, Naomoto is the brand used in the tailor shop where i worked for many years. The iron was on 8-10 hours a day. I think in 16 years we purchased a new one once.

          2. twosprings | | #18

            now that is a "gee-golly whopper" of an iron.......thank you for the info.delnita

          3. raven99 | | #6

            Lucky you to be able to customize a sewing room! As far as table heights go; for cutting and ironing, I prefer tables at about kitchen-counter height to minimize bending and back strain. For sewing, I think the height is somewhat less critical because you can get a height-adjustable chair. My sewing table is a little lower than dining room table-height. For your sewing table, consider putting a raised lip around the edge to keep things from sliding or getting knocked off. I've done this with mine and am I glad I did! There is one item I wish I had and am considering contructing, and that's a storage rack for fabrics--something where I can roll fabric onto tubes and then suspend the tubes onto racks so that the fabric doesn't get creases from being folded and isn't crushed from being stacked. The rack would ideally be in a cabinet to protect the fabrics from light. If you store fabrics for any length of time you might consider something like this while you're planning your new sewing room. Marion

          4. Wunmismom | | #7

            Over the years I have had two cutting tables built for my sewingroom. The first one provided experience for building the second one. To determine the correct table height for you, try this method:Bend your arms at the elbow. Extend them straight out, parallel to the floor. Measure from the floor to your arms by standing near a wall and marking on the wall where the bottom of your arm is. This will give you a comfortable height where you will not have to bend over your sewing. It is this bending over that results in backache and neck pain.Also, I had a small sewing table built (18 inches by 28 inches) at a height convenient for seated sewing that is kept at the side of my sewing machine. Actually, I have two of these. The second one is kept at my back creating a useful "u-design" work space. Both tables are on rollers so that I can easily move them around.All of my sewingroom furniture is custom built as is the room itself--out of necessity. I live in Nigeria, far from the U.S. conveniences of home. However, it is a wonderful room (28 ft. x 30 ft.) that I spend many happy hours in. My husband is a structural engineer and so built our home and this beautiful room.Wunmi's Mom

          5. twosprings | | #8

            thank you for sharing your ideas and experience. your sewing room sounds wonderful. my sewing area will be much smaller but your suggestions for the appropriate sewing and cutting heights will help every inch be efficient. how do you store bolts of fashion fabric and home decor fabric? i want the cupboard and drawer area designed for maximum effect also. do you have cabinets for your machines? i have a Bernina 930 and am considering a serger. i have retired and finally have time for sewing again. this is such an exciting adventure for me and hope to make as few mistakes as possible, so i appreciate any and all help.

          6. mantuamaker | | #17

            My cutting table is 4'x8' and tall enough that I don't have to bend to cut.  It is completely covered with a gridded plastic mat so I can use rotary cutters exclusively for accuracy.  Wonderful!  For the rolls of fabric, we put two lengths of wood vertically on the wall, and installed closet rod holders at multiple heights. A narrow end of the cutting table adjoins the wall under them. Just roll off the fabrics you use most, such as linings, etc.

            Works for me!

          7. Wunmismom | | #23

            As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. Having moved to a third-world country from the United States, I found on arriving here that I needed to do everything from scratch. That included building a house to live in and so many other things. Sewing became a way of life for me as a matter of necessity. However, I have been sewing since I was 12 years old. I have had to sit down and design each and every cabinet that is in our house. This has made me appreciate the geometry and math that I loathed so much in high school. I had to figure out how to store sewing items and equipment. The magic bullet for this is to store nothing, but live with the mess so that you can monitor your own movements in your sewingroom. Watch where you use things.
            Where you use things will be where you need the storage (or near there). After a few weeks of this (yes, there is a method to madness)you will be able to see all the tools you use and where. Gather each group up and place them on a table as if you are arranging them in a drawer or on a shelf. Measure the width, length and depth of each pile. This will let you know the size of drawer or shelf you will need to store those items. Make a temporary drawing of this drawer or shelf. Do this for each group. When you have done this, make another drawing, but this time of a cabinet that would house items that you would want kept in the same place. This would then be one sewing cabinet. This method is not written in concret, but can be adapted for all sorts of sewing storage--both large and small. What it will do is to provide personalized storage space for you. Even if the storage does not require a cabinet, it will let you known the types of bins, trays, baskets, etc. you will need.The height of the cabinet should be no higher than as far as you can reach upwards. You want to buy the book, "Dream Sewing Spaces", Palmer and Pletsch publishers. This book also gave me the idea for my fabric storage cabinet. I store massive amounts of fabric in it and close the door on it so dust and light can't enter. I have never had fabric damaged due to folding. I have good pressing equipment that will steam out any creasing. My fabric cabinet is as high as I can reach and 6 feet wide. The shelves have narrow space between them so that the stacks of fabric will not fall over. Again, this information is in the above book. Nancy Zieman in one of her general sewing books, either "10--15--30 minutes to Sew" or "Sewing Express", gives directions for making a board that will fold yards of material neatly so that each piece of yardage is the same length and width for shelf storage. As for my machine cabinet, I designed one that would suit my personal needs. I made a drawing complete with dimensions and showed this to the carpenter. We discussed it several times. He then went ahead to build it. What it consists of are modular units with each piece on heavy duty rollers so that the pieces can be moved around for cleaning or for rearranging.The machine sits in a recess with panels that can be removed for free-arm sewing. Two cabinets sit next to this one, one on each side of the machine. The three are of the same height and provide work-space. The two side cabinets have doors that open up to an inner cabinet in one and a work table in the other. Both can be rolled out at will. The inner cabinet (it sits on my left sided) has three pull-out bins to hold the work in progress according to sewing stages. These bins also holds pattern pieces once they are free from the fabric, sewing notions for the garment, etc. Wooden rods are on two sides (like towel racks) that allow me to hang pieces of the garment as I sew them. The cabinet at my right houses a small sewing table that can be rolled out at will. I like my room to be neat since I spend a lot of time there. This is the place that I receive my visitors, watch television and mark students' work (I am a professor). So, at times, I don't want the clutter to show---I just wheel it all into those cabinets!The three cabinets are wide enough to hold another cabinet at their back. It can be lifted off easily if I want to. This one houses books, magazines and sewing catalogs and miscellaneous items--all behind closed doors!Happy Sewing!
            Wunmi's Mom

          8. PlanoSmocker | | #9

            We recently added a sewing room to our home.  My cutting cabinet is 37-1/4" tall.  The desk we built for my sewing machine is 30-1/4" tall.  I am 5'6" and these are the perfect height for me.  I designed both with lots of drawers for storage and had them built by a cabinetmaker.  I had been cutting on my dining table and always made my back hurt.  

          9. twosprings | | #10

            thanks Rebecca. did your cabinet maker use specialty hardware for a machine lifter with multi positions? i want to be able to access my free arm, but there are soooo many times i need the large flat surface flush with my machine. do you store bolts of fashion fabric and home dec fabric? how on earth did you find someone who specializes in sewing room designs.......or is that clever soul you??? each one i have heard from gives me hope i won't make so many mistakes........maybe!!!!!!?????

          10. Elisabeth | | #12

            Here are some pictures of what a custom cabinetmaker might make for a cutting table. http://www.jwsjoinery.com/jws/dressmakertable.htm This is my sewing room in the early stages, I have more things in there now. The table top is 36 inches high and I am 5'8". The table height hits me right where my hip hinges and I like that so I can bend and reach across the table if I need to without the edge jabbing into my stomach. I can also get enough above my cutting mat with the rotary cutter. While there is a basic formula for height it is individual preference too.I designed my cutting table and the design came from my needs and the size of the space. Later I found a book at a yard sale by Carol Parks called "Great Sewing Accessories-to Sew" that has a custom built room section featuring a table that looks very much like my table! If you can find the book at the library it is worth a look. The custom room featured in the book has some really good space saving ideas. And finding the cabinetmaker, well, that was easy, he is also the love of my life and his shop is a just a short walk up the drive. :-)

          11. raven99 | | #16

            Wow, wow, wow! You lucky woman--that's a beautiful table, not only from a practical point of view but the craftsmanship as well. My former father-in-law is a hobby woodworker and quite accomplished and there have been times when I've thought it might almost have been worth keeping the ex just so I'd still have access to his father's skills! He did build a few things for us so I know what a treat it is to have something custom-made to your own specifications.Marion

          12. twosprings | | #22

            Elisabeth,i viewed all the breathtaking work your feller has on the website. the shop is just wonderful. you are very blessed. we have retired to the Ozarks and live in the woods. it is nice to know others find joy in woodworking and sewing. thank you again for sharing these treasures with me.delnita

          13. PlanoSmocker | | #20

            I was the designer.  For a couple of years I kept a tablet where I made notes and sketches of features I would like in a sewing room and the things other than fabric I needed space to store.  I visited friends' sewing rooms and spent a lot of time looking at commercially made sewing furniture.  I didn't find any commercial furniture that fit all of my needs, and I ultimately decided I would prefer cabinetry similar to what was already in my home anyway. 

            I don't have a lift in the desk built for my sewing machine.  I already had the large Plexiglas table that fit my Bernina 185 and decided I could remove its four outer legs and use it in a cut out space in the desk to provide a smooth sewing surface.  Imagine a fixed piece of wood where a drawer bottom would be, and about 4.5" higher--the top surface of the desk with an opening large enough for the Plexiglas table on the left, machine, and machine cords on the right.  There is about a 2" hole at the back right of the "drawer" for the cords.  The wood cut from the opening was finished the same as the desk, and the cabinetmaker built sort of a box just below the top inside the opening that the cut-out can be placed on for a stable surface.  A hole is drilled in what would be the front of the "drawer" so the knee-lift device can fit into the machine.  If I am doing a lot of embroidery, I use the cut-out and place the machine on top.  The only thing I find a little awkward is access to the bobbin area.

          14. twosprings | | #21

            this sounds amazing. can you post pictures? do you make housecalls?delnita

          15. mimi | | #13

            twosprings:  I recently converted a spare bedroom into a sewing room.  To determine how high your cutting table should be, bend over from the waist and stretch your arm out.  That is as far as you can reach, so the table should not be any wider than that.  Now pay attention to your back:  at what angle does it start to hurt?  Your height should be a few inches higher than that; mine is at waist height, but you might find that high.  We made ours out of a piece of luan plywood, with flanges (from the plumbing department) attached to the bottom.  We then screwed black iron pipe into the flanges and put caps on the bottom of the pipes.  It is easy to build and incredibly stable.  I have clear plastic boxes underneath to store fabrics and other essentials (I wish now that I had put them on wheels). 

            If you want to store fabrics on the long rolls as the fabric stores do, use a (new) large trash can.  The can will be large enough to hold about a dozen rolls of fabric and high enough not to tip over easily.  My husband is an engineer and this is how they used to store rolls of plans in the office!  Now they have roll about cages about 30 inches high, so there is something out there pre-made.  You might find them in office supply catalogs.


          16. twosprings | | #14

            dear mimi,thanks for the wonderful ideas. who knew all these imaginative sewing rooms existed????? there should be a book about these ideas. this forum is such a great gift. i am more exited each day as i learn how best to use space, time and funds.twosprings

          17. mimi | | #15

            two springs:  One thing I forgot to mention about the cutting table:  If you make it the correct height for cutting, it will also be the right height for sitting on a stool and doing handwork.  I like to spread my garment out and work on it, rather than sit with it bunched on my lap.  I have a swivel barstool with back support that makes it easy to turn around to my ironing board for quick presses.  This way I don't spend an afternoon doing handwork bent over my lap and wind up with stiffness and pain.  My Physical Therapist gave me this tip!


  2. HeartFire | | #11

    I too have a silverstar gravity feed iron and love it, the only negative I can say about it is that mine does NOT have a cork handle and it does get very hot, I have had to wrap the handle with a piece of old towel.  Get one with a cork handle


    1. twosprings | | #19

      great tip about handle. delnita

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