I believe that the majority of people read the word "sewing" and think only of sitting down to the machine and connecting two pieces of fabric together. Viola! New garment! Go wear it with pride! I wish it were sew (haha) easy!
The truth of the matter is that IRONING is really what happens in a sewing room, and irons are the unsung heroes of the sewing industry. The majority of my time on each garment, mask, repair, or tailoring job is spent at the ironing board and not at any of my three sewing machines. When I was little, I HATED ironing (along with clipping all those nagging little thread tails, measuring, and, of course, ironing again. And again. And AGAIN!). I just wanted to get to the sewing part - the FUN part - where I could see an awesome design in my mind come to life.
I had my older teens help me a few times in the sewing studio, and the same chore I used to hate also became their nemesis. "Iron this ENTIRE piece of fabric? For reals, mom?" Yes, all of it. For reals. Thankfully for me, ironing has become not a hated step but a welcome respite from constantly bending over my sewing machines. Thank you, iron, for encouraging me to stand up, take a break, and do something other than sit.
Ironing is a vital step in the sewing process. Without it, garments look "home made" instead of "hand made". It is essential to have a perfectly wrinkle-free piece of cloth from which to begin so that when patterns are laid out for cutting, grain-lines align exactly. No one wants the dreaded "shirt twist" to happen after the first wear. Without ironing and proper grain-line alignment, garments will twist to make the grain fall straight down the body when worn. Pre-washing before cutting is a sewer's prerogative, but something I always do no matter the fabric. This inevitably leaves the yardage wrinkly and in need of a good steam press.
After the pieces are cut, following all grain-line-markings on the pattern, of course, the sewing assembly happens. This is probably the fastest part. For a simple 3-layer face mask, I iron, cut, iron on interfacing for the inner layer, sew, iron, sew, and iron again. That's FOUR (4) ironings to TWO (2) sewings! At least twice as much of my time is spent ironing instead of sewing.
They should call this hobby Ironing instead of Sewing, but I think it would lose its appeal. "Ironing" sounds so chore-like and "sewing" sounds much more like an art form.
That said, I want to shout out my humble iron, which my husband says he has had since at least the early 2000s. It is a T-fal Ultraglide. An iron that had endured more than 20 years? Yes please! It has seen a lot of wear and tear. It has fallen off the ironing board more than I'd like to admit, yet is still going strong. The steam functions like new, and I see no signs of internal hard water buildup. It makes all my seams crisp and my fabrics smooth and flat. The occasional time I have accidentally burned something to the bottom, it has wiped off smoothly with no sign of having been marred.
Needless to say, I am very pleased with my iron, which serves me well in my sewing business. I couldn't do it without you, trusty, humble iron!