When a really useful tool comes into our lives, we adopt it as a new convenience, then usually find it hard to envision more than just small improvements to its basic design. This is the case for most us when it comes to our trusty irons. Today's irons are the same basic shape and size they have been for decades. We accept them, use them and are pretty happy with how they perform. So, when we decided to review the Clover Mini Iron II as part of our latest Fabric.com series, we were, at first, stumped as to exactly how we might use this tiny little iron. Our current steam irons were doing a good job handling the pressing tasks we needed, and this product looked more like a cross between my brother's wood burning tool set (which I was not allowed to touch), and my own curling iron. However, once we played with the little devil, we came up with all kinds of ideas. As we often say, using the right, specialized tools makes things go more quickly, more easily and often... makes the task more fun!
On June 6th of 1882, New Yorker, Henry W. Seely patented the "electric flatiron." That first electric iron weighed almost 15 pounds and took a long time to warm up. But think about how much easier it must have seemed to those who had the electricity to run it. It was a far cry from heating a heavy cast iron unit on a stove, or from trying to use one of the early models that ran on fuel, like coconut coals, charcoal, natural gas, whale oil or gasoline. Imagine being hooked up to a gas line while pressing a seam, or having to refuel with whale oil in the middle of a job!
The electric iron entered our lives and stayed there, an ever-useful household tool. The steam feature and thermostat temperature control were added in the 1920s, and the $10 Steam-O-Matic, which came out in 1938, was the first steam iron to gain widespread popularity as a top-seller. But, other than slight improvements to weight and temperature control, the good ol' electric iron has remained essentially the same, which makes the Clover Mini Iron II a very fun innovation.
Good things in small packages
The Clover Mini Iron II is just that: mini. The basic package ($37.95 at Fabric.com), which is what we tested, comes with the standard base unit plus one small triangular head, a cooling stand to keep the hot unit off your work surface, and a small screwdriver to change iron heads.
You can also purchase the base unit plus a full adapter set ($67.95 at Fabric.com), which adds four additional options to the basic small triangular head: a larger triangular adapter for slightly bigger projects; a slim line tip for seams, fabric folding and tiny tubes; a hot knife tip for slicing and heat-sealing in one pass, and a ball tip - great for curving tiny fabric flower petals and other craft projects. There is also an optional cooling stand to hold both the basic unit as well as all the adapter heads.
Seams, corners and points
We tested the Clover Mini Iron II on a variety of little seams.
It worked well on both ¼" and ½". For wider seams, a traditional iron would be a better choice.
The iron heats up quickly, and with three basic settings of high, medium and low; you can adjust the heat to match your fabric type. High is quite hot. We scorched one of our test samples by leaving the iron tip in one place too long on the high heat setting! There is an on/off switch on the cord and an indicator light on the base unit to alert you the iron is on.
This tool is very lightweight and easy to maneuver, which makes it handy for tiny hems. This is just ⅛".
Ironing tight corners and points is challenging with a large iron, but not with this little guy.
And, one of my favorite uses: the narrow hem with a clean finished corner. A double-turn ¼" hem is always a finger-burner because you need enough heat to set the hem and hold all those tiny folds in the corner, but you have to get in really close... ouchy! It was much easier to do with the Mini Iron.
Ribbons, trims and appliqué
Ironing tiny ribbons with a big iron always seemed like overkill, and now I know why... it is! The Clover Mini Iron II makes it easy to loop and twist ribbon, then easily press it flat.
I can see lots of opportunities for working with bias binding and piping. The tip is just the right size to press the Extra Wide Bias Binding from Wrights that we use on many of our projects.
Pressing tiny appliqué shapes is also slick as a whistle.
The Clover Mini Iron II is a great little tool that we are happy to have as an addition to our Sew4Home studios. You may start seeing a lot more tiny seams and ribbon work on upcoming projects now that we are less likely to burn our fingers!
All the featured products are in stock and ready-to-ship from Fabric.com.