Before electricity, women ironed clothing by heating sad irons on top of the wood stove until they were hot. A wooden handle was placed into the holder in the steel and when the iron cooled, it was returned to the stove and the handle put into another iron. These irons were heavy and awkward to use.
Clothing was mostly cotton, wool or linen. Fabric blends were unknown as there were no synthetic fibers. The lovely no-iron cottons that we enjoy today were unknown.
Grandma Jackman quilted with cotton fabrics and ironed her remnants before she cut out the quilt pattern. As she stitched the seams, either by hand, or on a treddle machine, she needed a way to iron the seams flat. Her trick was to use the blade of a heavy pair of scissors and run the blade along the seam line, pressing hard as she went. The seam would lie open and she continued sewing without having to keep an iron hot.