Friday, 3 August 2012

Power Plays with Irons... Do You Feel Switched On?

My Iron
My Iron
As a sewing fan (whether you sew your own garments, crafts, for couture clients or quilting) pressing is always an important part of the process to producing wonderful results in your work. Therefore, your iron and ironing board etc. are essential tools in your sewing arsenal.

But, hopping up and down betwixt machine and your pressing station to iron away at this piece and that bit can a) be tiring, b) time consuming, c) make your sewing area hot with a constant source of heat, and d) waste energy if you have to leave the iron turned on constantly.

Obviously, it can be wasteful of electricity (and likely your bank balance too in the very long term!) to leave your iron turned on all the time. Of course modern iron-models automatically switch themselves off after a certain waiting period; this is for both reasons of health & safety, and to conserve energy - so this can take the worry out of leaving a potential fire hazard on all the time!
You could of course try to remember to switch-off the iron by hand every time you visit your ironing board (but you might loose time waiting for it to re-heat up on your next go). Or, you can try to "work smarter" and arrange your order of construction so that you press as many pieces that require it at the *same time. (*This is something I am working towards on all new projects as it seems to increase my work flow, and I also prefer not getting up and down all the time between sewing each step in the pattern instructions).

If, like me you have a typical domestic iron (and not one of those super-duper heavy duty professional tailor's
über steamy type models) then turning it off all the time is a pain in le derrière. For my own iron there is no on/off switch - just the dial to adjust the heat setting (plus the steam settings slider/knob) and to turn it on you plug it into the mains electrical socket. Turning my iron off - means crawling down near the floor to reach the power-socket behind my pressing board - definitely not my idea of fun if you have to do it upmteen times an hour. At least my model has a fast heat-up time though :) (I've got the 'Philips Azur GC4870/02 Steam Iron'.)

My Iron... Adding an On-Off Switch

Disclaimer: Electricity is dangerous stuff - fact! This post is in no way a tutorial, or a set of instructions on how to carry out alterations or repairs to your iron(s) or other electrical appliances. I do not accept any responsibility or liability whatsoever for any losses, damages, injuries, accidents (or any other outcomes) to persons, possessions or to property as a result of anyone reading my post (or my photographs/images) who has then duplicated in full (or in part) my alterations (as shown here and/or elsewhere) upon their own (or upon someone else's) equipment. Persons who do so, do so entirely at their own risk and liability. Electrical work and repairs should always be carried out by an appropriately qualified, registered and insured professional.

So, I thought to myself "How can add an on/off switch to my iron - but without ruining it?". And, I had this bright DIY idea :) ! Add a switch to an extension lead, plug my iron into the modified extension + turn it on/off with only one finger easy-peasey! No need to unplug each time to turn off my iron (which for me needs 2 hands + crawling on the floor each time).
So, I bought this 1-Gang trailing mains extension socket for only £3.35 GBP ($5.20 USD) + an in-line **switch (sometimes called a thru-switch / cord switch) too 
**The 3-core type, so it can accommodate the UK wiring for Live (Brown), Neutral (Blue) and Earth (Yellow/Green) - plus it needs to be the correct Amp-rating for the iron (so 13A in this instance).

And, last night I (with much help from Hubby when the screws wouldn't co-operate LOL!) cut the cable into 2-pieces a few inches (maybe 7-10cm) from the socket-end.

Then, we stripped back the outer plastic, and wired it all together (very similar to my Sewing Machine Surgery last April).

On, Off Power Extension Lead (for my Iron)

Another cool option could be an in-line floor switch! You'd then be able to use your foot to turn off your iron - no bending down see :) !


  1. You always come up with really cool gadgets Claire. I think I am much to chicken to perform this kind of surgery on my iron. The hubby would actually kill me if all did not go according to plan as he just bought a new iron.

  2. Ahh... see the beauty here Dibs is that I've not touched the iron itself at all merely an inexpensive extension lead. So no damage to your iron is done at all :)

  3. I was in Homebase last week and they had an ironing board extension lead for £9. It has a plug-y-in bit with a switch like a wall socket and a handy light so you know if you've got power going to the iron or not. There's even a crocodile type clip so you can clip the bit you plug your iron into onto the board, so no scrabbling! Perfect and keeps me away from electrical tinkering - I probably could do it, but Husband would have a fit!

    1. Ah, that sounds like a good option for those persons disinclined to DIY-it!

      Also if people search for "individually switched" extension leads (I'd personally look for one between 1.5 to 2 metres long) then that'd work too. I just wanted a single switched socket (hence I effectively made my own one) most "switched" extension leads have 4 or more power-points on them and are priced from around the £10 mark and upwards. My version came in about £5 (yay!) ;-)

  4. you have very clever ideas! my dad uses the same method. BTW any suggestions on a good ironing board?

    1. Thank you :-) I've loads of DIY sewing notions and tools ideas - I just love to tinker away in our garden shed (he he) . Now I just need to find the time to photograph and blog them - there never seems to be enough hours in them day LOL!

      Re: ironing boards - I've made and covered my own rectangular pressing board (that'll be one of those DIY projects that I've not found time to write a tutorial for yet - oops!). But in general I'd say a wide board gives you more surface to press on - especially when pressing large pieces of fabrica before cutting. Also, I think that the cover should be cotton not those cheap polycotton covers they seem to be sold with + the under layer of batting / wadding should be a natural fibre too -e alp both will absorb the steam and heat from your iron better I reckon :-)

  5. Wonder Woman! What a brilliant idea! x


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