This week on QUILTsocial, it’s all about ironing and pressing! Quilters use irons all the time. But are we taking full advantage of all the great accessories that can make ironing and pressing more efficient and enjoyable?? Let’s find out!
Today we’re talking about ironing surfaces. I think every quilter has a standard ironing board to do their pressing, but sometimes we need something smaller and more portable or something bigger to work on larger projects. Wool pressing mats have only been a ‘thing’ for a couple of years, but they have taken the quilting world by storm. Not only are they lightweight and portable, a 100% felted wool ironing mat retains heat, so when you iron your fabric it’s like ironing from both sides at the same time!
The UNIQUE Wool Pressing Mat is made of premium quality tightly felted New Zealand wool and absorbs moisture from heat, allowing for minimal to no required steaming. The ½” thickness keeps fabric stable and minimizes stretching and shifting, so there’s no distortion when pressing. Knitted, crocheted or hooked projects can also be pinned to the mat for blocking.
The pressing mat can be used with a dry iron on any surface, so if you want a small pressing station beside your sewing machine, you can place it on top of a TV tray, and it would be at your side and super handy. If you need to use steam, be sure to place the mat on a protected surface, since moisture does go through the mat and can harm the surface below.
This week I’m trying out my new Oliso M2Pro Mini Project Iron. To say this iron is cute is a total understatement!! I have (and love) an Oliso Pro TG1600 Smart Iron which I use all the time, but I’ve never had a mini iron before now. This little cutie has the power of a full-sized iron in a compact and lightweight design. When we can finally go on quilt retreats again, I can use it and my wool pressing mat right next to my sewing machine, and the mini iron won’t take up any space in my retreat bag, either!
Unlike its big sister, The Oliso M2Pro Mini Project Iron doesn’t have the patented Scorchguards which cause the iron to lift when you’ve stopped ironing to prevent burns, scorching and tipping, but it does come with a silicone Solemate which lets the hot soleplate safely rest during ironing and protects fabrics. When you go to store the mini iron, this Solemate fits like a glove on the sole of the iron to protect the surface.
Making a large pressing board
Sometimes, when you’re doing fusible applique or sewing large blocks, you want a large, flat surface for pressing. Years ago, I made a pressing board and I use it all the time for large fusible applique projects. It’s become quite ratty, so I want to make a new one, and I have this super cute fabric I want to use.
This process will work for any sized board, so if you’re really ambitious you could make a large rectangular board that fits right on top of your ironing board, or you may have an old wooden TV tray you can recover to make a portable pressing board. Whatever size you make it, the process is the same.
The first thing we need is a piece of wood. As long as it’s at least ½” thick, you should be fine. I’m using a piece of melamine that we’ve had in the garage for a while – a leftover from our last kitchen reno.
Next, we need some fabric (wait until you see mine!) and some heat-resistant fleece. I’ve got a package of UNIQUE Quilting Therm Fleece, so I’m ready to go!
Therm Fleece is a heat-resistant material that can be used for both hot and cold insulation and it provides protection from hot surfaces up to 390°F (200°C). You can use it for potholders, oven mitts, tea cozies, wine caddies, lunch boxes, slippers, window coverings, table pads, ironing board covers, casserole holders, outerwear, coolers, and more! Just remember that Therm Fleece is designed as a liner, so it shouldn’t make direct contact with your iron. The package says you should have at least one layer of cotton batting between it and the outside fabric cover, so I’ll use a piece of Fairfield Toasty Cotton™ Natural Cotton Quilt Batting too.
Step 1 – Measure and cut the three layers
Measure your piece of wood and cut your Therm Fleece 4“ wider and longer than your board. Cut your cotton batting 5“ wider and longer than the board and cut your cotton (top) fabric about 7“ wider and longer than the board.
Step 2 – Staple your first layer
Lay your Therm Fleece on the table or floor with the shiny side down. Center your wooden board on top of the fleece. Wrap the fleece around to the back of the board and using a staple gun, staple the edge of the fleece to the board.
The best way to make the fleece even and smooth is to first staple the middle of one side and then pull the fleece smooth and staple the middle of the opposite side. Repeat this process on the remaining two sides.
Step 3 – Remove extra bulk in the corners
Before you finish stapling the rest of the Therm Fleece to the board, use a pair of sharp scissors to cut away a square from each corner of the fleece. This will remove some of the excess bulk in the corners and will make the other layers easier to secure.
Continue stapling around the edge of the Therm Fleece. Once you have put in a staple every 4“ or so, add the next layer. Here is my board with the layer of Therm Fleece thoroughly secured to the back of the board:
Step 4 – Add the cotton batting layer
Repeat the above steps using the Fairfield Toasty Cotton Quilt Batting. Don’t forget to cut away the corners of the batting to reduce bulk.
The coating on my wooden board is very hard, so I had a little trouble getting my staples to go all of the way in. If you have the same problem, just use a hammer and give them a few taps.
Step 5 – Add the top cotton fabric layer
Now, add the top layer of cotton quilting fabric. This is where you can personalize your pressing board! Use fabric to match your quilting studio or make it totally different. Since nothing in my quilting studio matches, I decided to use this super cute laundry-themed fabric!
Lay your fabric down on the table or floor, right side down, and center your pressing board on top with batting side down. Wrap the fabric around to the back of the board, folding under the raw edge before you staple it. This will give the fabric a nice, finished edge and will hide the layers of Therm Fleece and batting. Staple the middle of each side first, as before.
Step 6 – Fold and tuck the corners
This time, instead of cutting away the excess in the corners, fold over the corner of the cotton fabric first, and then fold up the two edges beside the corner. Tuck under the raw edge and staple. This gives a nice finish to the corners and will hide where we cut away the layers of fleece.
Step 7 – Finish stapling around the edge
Using the staple gun, go around the entire edge of the board to secure the cotton fabric with staples. I found when I started holding the staple gun as shown in the photo (with the body of it resting on the board instead of in the air) the staples went in a lot better!
I put a staple into the cotton fabric about every 2“. I also decided to put in a couple extra staples along the fold in each corner to further secure the fabric.
Here’s my new pressing board. Now, isn’t that fabric perfect?
My Oliso M2Pro Mini Project Iron looks so tiny on the pressing board! My new board is about 24“ x 30“ and is perfect for pressing some of my bigger projects with my Oliso Pro TG1600 Smart Iron. But it weighs a ton, so it won’t ever be traveling to workshops or retreats with me! I’ll stick with my new UNIQUE Wool Pressing Mat for that!
I hope you feel inspired to make your own pressing board with UNIQUE Quilting Therm Fleece and Fairfield Toasty Cotton Natural Cotton Quilt Batting, but if you aren’t into using staples guns, you should really think about treating yourself to a new wool pressing mat. The UNIQUE Wool Pressing Mat comes in two different sizes, so I’m sure you’ll find one that works with your sewing space.
Be sure to join me tomorrow to discover essential tips for ironing and pressing!
This is part 1 of 5 in this series
Go to part 2: Ironing vs Pressing – do YOU know the difference?