I'm a sewing enthusiast in Beacon, New York, with a love of all things retro. This site is all about tutorials, tips, inspiration, and lots of spirited discussion about sewing as it relates to fashion history, pop culture, body image, and gender. My first book, Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing, is now out from STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books! Also look for my line "Patterns by Gertie" from Butterick.
Most irons seem to have one these days: the auto-off feature, that little mechanism that causes your iron to go into a "stand-by" mode when not in use. It cools down the iron's plate completely when not in use for a certain amount of time. In the case of my iron (which is the Rowenta Focus, if you're curious), the iron shuts off if it's been out of use for 8 minutes.
Now, there are times that I appreciate the feature. Safety first and all that. I've never been good at remembering to shut off hot things. Jeff has been terrified to find (on more than one occasion, I admit) that I've left the gas burner on after cooking. I mean, the thing has flames coming out of it! It's not exactly inconspicuous. So if I leave the house and have that "OMG I think I left the iron on" feeling, I don't have to fret. Also on the safety front, it's worth noting that my iron turns off after only 30 seconds if it's horizontal and not in use. Clever, huh?
On the other hand, the 8 minutes allotted for the vertical position seems a little stingy, right? That's just about enough time for me to sew a seam or complete some other mid-project tasks. You know the drill: when you go back to iron, the thing has shut off. Reactivating the iron (and waiting for it to heat up again) becomes one of those irksome sewing activities that takes the place of actually sewing.
If I had to choose again, I would probably still go with the auto-off feature rather than not have one at all. (So perhaps, in answer to the title of this post, it's my frenemy.) But perhaps there's an iron out there that's geared to people who might leave their iron idle for more than 8 minutes at a time? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this matter!