Full steam ahead?!

I am a steamer dreamer and this is a product review- I was asked if I wanted to try the ‘Tefal Access Steam ‘  in exchange for a review.  Having been told by a sewing instructor way back about steam generating irons & how they allowed you to whizz vertical steam over a dress on a hanger, (thereby avoiding the need for a formal press) I have been wistfully coveting such a device.  I bought an iron that had vertical steam capabilities, but that wasn’t a steam generator.  I was of course disappointed – it did not deliver on the vertical steaming front.  It is not a steam generating iron, how would it?  So the prospect of a hand-held steamer filled me with curiosity.  I looked this hand held gadget up online & saw that it is not as expensive as a steam generating iron, but is more than a regular steam iron.  How would it deliver?

access steam

I put it to the test on some random washing that I brought in from the washing line.  A (100%) cotton top.  But as I am a steamer dreamer as opposed to a steam sophisticate I should have tried something else as my first steam.  Of course cotton tops need the pressure of an iron.  My quest was put on hold whilst I moved house, & as I am living with no hanging wardrobe, I packed clothing that can mainly survive being folded- ie a high proportion of jersey clothing, denim & not much that needed ironing.

But have no fear!  I am not living alone & with my co-conspirator we went hunting for some suitable clothing to steam the heck out of.  Fancy seeing some before & afters?


Our conclusions?  Easy see how you would use it to spruce something up to wear just before going out if it came out of the wardrobe a bit crushed.

And was amazed how it perked up some of my son’s cotton shirts that were severely chewed up.  I was expecting minimal impact, but it actually made it wearable for someone who is not too fussy- obviously it would be better ironed & it would take less time, but to avoid setting up the iron & ironing board it’s done an adequate job.  It works best on the deeper crumples when you create a bit of tension with the fabric (eg holding a sleeve out) & smoothing the steamer over it.

On the negative side it can get a bit heavy, and it didn’t work very well with the deeper creases in my polyester pussy bow blouse that has been tumble dried- but ideal I would imagine for things you might dry on a hangar.   I do not usually tumble dry, however, so must have left this blouse in too long!

access steam

Also it is not completely drip free so you would have to be careful using it on the kind of fabric that would water mark.

BUT excellent on silk & fine fabric with gathers – it was a ‘wo!’ moment- it took next to no time to make a big impact- this is arguably where it comes into its own.

OK, so that’s how it works as a general steamer.  I have got a steam fix it has to be said.  What about using it for sewing?  Fiona and Rachel have both written about how they use this handy little gadget for sewing.  Fiona here and Rachel have some great tips.  What can I add to the party?  I could pick out  my favorite things Fiona and Rachel have used theirs for.  Rachel talks about how she has used it for tailoring.  Having sewn just a couple of wool coats in my past I can imagine how this would be an effective way to achieve stretch & shrinking at key parts of the tailoring process – particularly around the sleeve insertion process.  It delivers bursts of steam that are much more directional and consistent than my regular iron & so I can see this working really well.  I love that Fiona has been using hers fora final pre-shrinkage of some merino wool before cutting into it.    But what can I add to the party?  You don’t want lots of repetition.

I know that if I was sewing in my normal set up & with access to all my pretty fabrics I would use it to steam those delicate fabrics, particularly gathers-  in finer fabric.  I could use the steam function on my iron, but it is not so easy to control & I also find that when i have tried to boost steam, the limescale discolours the steam (yuk!) & leaves marks which is not good.  With this hand held steamer, there is a mesh cover that protects clothing & fabric from this limescale fall- out- something that is necessary in the hard water area that I live .

But I think the most useful sewing related activity for me would be using this Tefal hand steamer for steaming elastic just after I have sewn it with a zig zag, stretching it to fit necklines (eg the Maria Denmark Day to Night drape top uses elastic zig zagged & turned to the inside to finish the back neck and arm edges),  the Fehr Trade XYT also uses elastic to finish the neckline and armhole edges- setting stretched elastic with a good boost of steam is good practice.  I think I would also be tempted to boost some steam when adding elastic this way on underwear too- but  I have been too lazy in the past.  Having a gadget like this handy could change my slovenly knicker making practice!

But since testing it, it’s interesting seeing what it would be particularly good for.  I’ve recently bought mcCalls 6605 and know that the hand steamer will love all those gathers ….

A big thank you to the adorable Ellen who was my co-conspirator x

2 thoughts on “Full steam ahead?!

  1. AlisonB

    I used to have several suits from Jigsaw which were made of thick almost-coat-weight wool with a nap – Melton cloth??? . A steamer was invaluable for getting the creases out that would appear in the skirt front and sleeves after a day’s wear.


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