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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Friday, March 4, 2016

Handy sewing hint of the day #4

Before I go any further I have to say the best stuff on this blog is in the comment section. 

Make sure you read the comments too. The handy hints that are coming in there are terrific. One point of clarification, when I wrote opaque on the subject of pressing cloths, I could have meant translucent, I guess almost transparent - but I probably should have just said thin. As in thin, worn cotton or linen, thin enough you can have a sense what's underneath would work.

Just don't be suckered into those thick so-called pressing cloths for sale.

Now onto ironing boards.

The kind of ironing board a sewer needs has to have the qualities of a steady table. You are going to be using it a lot, pressing down on fusible interfacing, pressing down with your own weight on a clapper to set a sharp crease (more on that later) and you don't need wooble. This is a sewing occupational health and safety issue.

What you don't need is your average rickety modern Walmart ironing board such is produced by a culture that really doesn't do much ironing anymore.

They just won't hold up to real sewing pressing.

Now you can pad an actual table, cover and use that, and buy a sleeve board or something to put on top for the bits that need some kind of point.

The other idea, and what I myself did, was to buy a yard sale old school ironing board of the kind that weigh like they are made out of iron and some family is getting rid of so they can buy a modern, light rickety unit from Walmart. Maybe your mom has one you can talk her out of, maybe your grandmother.

Or, alternately you can go to the Melrose Avenue street yard sale in June and Mrs. Smith will sell you one for $2.00

After you have had someone help you lug this monstrosity home, by someone who invariably will say to you "I thought we were getting rid of our junk not buying more of it" you have to cover it.

Do not, repeat, do not ever use one of those silver teflon "modern" ironing board covers that are supposed to increase the efficiency of your iron by reflecting back the heat.

These things are sewer's Kryptonite and will, guaranteed, fry all your good work, on both sides and do lots of other bad things that I would list now if I could think of them.

You need to go natural and you need to cover that old ironing board in wool because wool will absorb the moisture of your steam iron and slowly release it back to the underside of the fabric you are pressing (now that is how you really increase the efficiency of your iron) in a nice, friendly, reasonable, professional way.

I covered/padded the top of my own ironing board with some thin wool blankets that were given to my mother when she went into nursing school in about 1950 or thereabouts and even have her initials on them. 


I just wrapped those blankets around the top of the ironing board and fastened them on the underside with baby diaper safety pins (we throw nothing out around here, you never know).

Next you have to cover the top of the ironing board with 100% heavy cotton. I favour something with stripes so you can use the surface for lining things up straight or big checks etc. because this is also useful.

Now other sewers over to you, what are your ironing board thoughts?


Sarah Liz said...

I find old towels great for using to pad the ironing board - not bad for ironing on either.

Anonymous said...

I scored my Grandma's ironing board when helping her move to Florida in the 1970s. Its wooden but weighs like iron, and is the right height for me. And its solid, you could jump on it, EXCEPT that it folds up if you tug on it the wrong way (something that all newbie ironers at my house do at least once). She had padded it with an old army blanket that smells vaguely horsey, which doesn't bother me as it either doesn't migrate to what is being ironed or is so familiar that I don't notice it.

ANYWAY, its a treasure, one of those things that you would rescue from your burning house after the dogs and the baby pictures. Someone gave me a silk organza pressing cloth that I love, its very see-thru.

Enjoying the hints very much - thank you!


Sueann Walter said...

I also have a silk organza pressing cloth, but don't need it too often as I have a cover on my gravity feed iron that works so wonderfully I can hardly believe it. I have an ironing board that I have drug all over the East Coast for the past 40 years, that I snagged from a high school boyfriend 's grandmother! I won't part with it even though it makes a horrendous noise when opening or closing it. I have a covered board too that sits on top of a baby changing table from Ikea that houses all my pressing items. Pressing is important.

Julie said...

I have a wooden ironing board that my mom bought me at a thrift store in about 1971. It still has some of the original thick felt padding on it and a few of the thin cotton covers I've put on it over the years. It is kind of rickety, but I love it and will probably use it till I die. The date on the underside is 1929.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to look for a better ironing board but wanted to add that yes, silk organza (I've got a length of it left from my now 22YO daughter's first communion dress) is a fabulous press cloth. Handles heat and moisture beautifully, and is translucent. Also, I want to move to your RV park.

Kathryn Hoyman said...

I have an ironing board purchased in 1967. I was heading to college and my roommate and I divided up the 'must haves' for the dorm room. I brought the iron and ironing board. Can't remember what she brought but I think it was popcorn popper and hot pot.
I'm pretty sure college kids today do not have ironing boards on their take to college lists.

Sox said...

My ironing board is covered by what once was a beautiful mohair blanket, washed by someone who didn't know how to wash wool and felted it. I bought it at a rummage sale and have covered it with a (commercial) cotton cover.
My ironing board is about 30 years old and while it is fairly sturdy, it is not as sturdy as my mom's board which is older than I by at least a decade.
I cooked my good iron a few weeks ago so I need to get another one, tho' I am managing with an older version of the good one.

LinB said...

In a pinch you can use a thick, terry-cloth bath towel to press corduroy or velvet. Must be a cotton towel, and really thick ... from a "good" department store. Don't bother looking for one at the same place they sell rickety modern ironing boards.