I’ve seen American quilters singing the praises of the Oliso Smart Iron for a couple of years or so but it wasn’t available in the UK. Luckily for us Groves Ltd now distribute it and it is now available through a range of British stockists including The Cotton Patch, Jaycotts and Lovely Jubbly Fabrics. I reached out to Groves and asked if I could try the iron to see what all the fuss is about.
So, you are probably wondering what makes it different to a regular iron? In what way is it ‘smart’? It’s main selling point is that you don’t need to stand the iron up, so there is minimal lifting involved. It has sensor technology in the handle that when you remove your hand makes little feet pop out to lift the plate of the iron away from the surface, this is the ‘smart’ bit. You can glide the iron over the fabric, then just lift your hand off instead of having to pick the iron up and stand it upright on the iron stand part of your ironing board. You leave it face down but the hot iron plate is not touching the fabric or your ironing board so won’t burn it.
Why is this a good thing? As you probably already know irons are quite heavy, even more so when you have them full of water. If you are ironing a lot you can start to feel strain in your neck, shoulder or back from the repeated motion of picking the iron up, using it face down and then standing it up after.
Also, some of us have injuries or disabilities which can make using a regular iron difficult. I had no idea when I ordered this iron how well I would be able to test it out! A couple weeks after receiving it I was in a car crash which has given me bad whiplash. I’m still having physio over 2 months later, can’t sleep on the side where I have pain, can’t exercise and I am struggling with lifting and picking up heavy things.
If it wasn’t for this iron, I don’t think I would be able to sew at all at this point. The only thing I’ve found difficult whilst experiencing so much neck and shoulder pain is lifting the iron and tipping it forward so I can squirt water out of the front. I can definitely feel the strain of that on my sore muscles. If I was using a regular iron I’d feel that pain every time I picked it up. Having the Oliso iron has enabled me to do more than I would otherwise be able to.
Benefits of the Oliso Smart Iron
It has a very long lead (3.7m) so you have a great range of motion when using it.
The plate is ceramic which makes it easy to clean. I haven’t needed to do so yet but apparently if you get glue from Bondaweb or interfacing on it, it comes off easily.
It gets very hot and steamy; it removes wrinkles much more efficiently that my old Phillips iron did. I have a couple pairs of corduroy trousers that I could just never get the creases out of no matter how much I ironed them in the past. This iron removed them with ease! That makes ironing quicker too.
It turns off after 30 seconds if you knock it over, and 30 minutes if you accidentally leave it on.
It has a precision tip for getting right into corners or pressing seams or bias binding.
You don’t have to lift it upright when not using it so it’s easier on your back/neck/arms/shoulders.
It heats up quickly so no standing around waiting for it to be hot enough to use.
There are a couple things I had to do differently with this iron compared to my previous one. Firstly, I learned not to rest it face down on the metal iron holder on my ironing board. When the feet pop out they can get caught under the metal making it difficult to pick up. Leave it on the fabric part of the ironing board.
Secondly, I discovered not to leave the iron on my fabric when stopping, when you remove your hand and the feet come out they leave dents in your fabric as per the photo, which means you then have to iron that bit of fabric again. So, place it next to your fabric, but on the ironing board cover. The good news is it doesn’t scorch your fabric or ironing board cover even if you leave it on and face down for several minutes whilst sewing the next bit of your project.
One thing I used to do that I can no longer when using the Oliso iron is using the residual heat to press things whilst the iron is off. Obviously, irons take a while to cool down so to save electric when paper piecing, I would heat the iron up, press my seam. Turn it off and still be able to press another few seams before it needed re-heating. Or sometimes after you’ve switched the iron off you realise there’s a bit which needs a little more pressing so you can run the iron over it without switching it back on. With this iron when you turn it off at the wall the feet automatically come out and the sensor doesn’t detect you holding the iron once it has been turned off. But overall these things are more needing to change your habits than downsides. It works differently to a regular iron so can take some time to get used to.
Something which I think would be good for future models would be a shorter cut off time if you accidentally leave it on. Like 15 minutes instead of 30 minutes. That would save money and reduce the risk of accidents.
Downsides of the Oliso smart iron
It leaves dents on your fabric if you remove your hand from the handle whilst it’s still on your fabric.
You have to break the habit of putting the iron on the iron rest as the feet get caught in the metal. You also have to break the habit of standing the iron up when you’re done.
You can’t use the residual heat once it’s switched off at the wall.
Price, it would be remiss of me not to mention that this is a pricey iron. It retails at around £175 which is more than most of us would pay for an iron. Obviously, it’s imported from the States which adds to the cost, and has more technology than a standard iron.
Is it worth buying an Oliso smart iron?
I would say that depends on a few things. Do you do a lot of ironing? If so this iron definitely makes it a much quicker, easier process. It is a good quality iron which easily removes creases plus fact you can leave it face down reduces muscle fatigue when you are spending a long time ironing.
Do you have physical problems which makes ironing difficult or painful for you? If so, this is definitely a worthwhile purchase. I would probably have to wait another month or so before I could comfortably use a regular iron after my car crash injuries, but having this iron meant I could get back to sewing much quicker.
Do you have a decent budget? This is definitely an improvement on any cheaper iron I’ve purchased, and I wasn’t buying the lowest priced ones. I believe my Phillips iron cost around £60-£70. It removes creases much more quickly, it’s more efficient and the settings are easy to figure out and change.
It has certainly made a very welcome addition to my sewing room. After a couple of months of using it I would struggle to switch back to a normal iron now I’ve experienced this one.
Find out more about the Oliso Smart Iron here.