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?
- 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