How To Make an Ironing Surface

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

I don’t know how many of you sew, but there’s a lot of pressing involved. Getting the seams nice and crisp gives you a great result. I find that to be true whether I’m quilting or making pillowcases or any other project. Since sewing is one of my favorite therapies (along with gardening and reading), I sew almost daily in the wintertime, and I really don’t want to keep a full-size ironing board set up in my workshop all the time.

Enter the ironing surface. The ironing surface small, completely flat, very very slightly padded surface that you can iron on. My new one is only about 17″ x 25″ which is just the right size for me to press almost anything I’d need to and leave room on my console for other things like my made over radio cabinet and my lamp. I am certainly not the first person to create such a thing, there are tutorials all over the Internet. But I added a little twist of elevating mine off the cabinet top with “legs” and I thought you’d like to see how I did it. Read on for all the details!

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

First you need a scrap piece of wood. I recommend plywood if you can get it because it’s dimensionally stable and wont warp, twist, cup etc., even though I’m going to be getting it hot and wet on a daily basis. I’ve seen other people use other things like regular wood or MDF, I just prefer plywood. In my case, I happened to have an old cabinet door that was made of plywood that I cut down to size (gotta love free).

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

I chose to make my surface 17″ by 25″. The 17″ dimension was because it’s a few inches smaller than my console top, because I wanted it to fit nicely on there and not stick out or slip off the edges if it moved around. The 25″ is just because that’s how long the cabinet door was, but it turned out to be the perfect size.

The next thing you need is some padding. I used two layers of 100% cotton batting I had on hand. I did two layers because 100% cotton batting is really thin and I was worried about it not being padded enough, but in retrospect one would have been fine. I wouldn’t suggest using 100% polyester batting, because you might melt it using your iron at it’s hottest setting (which I always do). You need the batting to be a few inches bigger than your board — enough to wrap around and have enough hanging over to staple.

You also need some muslin or other cotton fabric. I used muslin because I had some laying around. Make the muslin just a bit bigger than the batting. If you lay it all out on the floor like this, you can just eyeball it and not have to measure:

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

Finally, for the legs, you’re going to want four wooden curtain rod finials. I happened to have some in the garage left over, but you can get them at the big box hardware stores and they are fairly inexpensive.

To position them, measure in about 2″ each way on each corner:

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

Position the screw that’s on the finial right on your marked spot…

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

…and then screw it in.

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

Ta da!

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

Do that four times total and you’ll have all your “legs” or “feet” attached.

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

Next you want to staple your batting down. I chose to staple the batting first and then the muslin separately so that I can replace the muslin if it gets grody without having to redo the batting. It also looks neater after you’re done. Just like any kind of fabric project like this, start by stapling the middle of one side…

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

… then give the batting a gentle but firm pull and staple the middle of the other side. Do the third and fourth sides the same way, then start working your way toward the corners, again, one side then the other, then the third and fourth side, always stretching the batting so it’s nice and tight. (Of course, don’t pull the batting too hard or it will pull apart.)

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

If any of the staples don’t go all the way in (I have a knack for NOT getting them in), just tap them in with a hammer.

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

Keep going until you have all the sides done, and the corners still lose, like this:

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

Next you have to take care of all that batting in the corner.

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

I start by folding the corner down:

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

Then fold one side in.

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

Staple it, and fold the other side in.

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

Have a friend help you hold it while the staple gun is being reloaded (haha!)

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

Then staple down that other folded side (or have a friend do it for you while you keep things taut.

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

Once it’s all stapled down you can cut away all the excess.

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

It doesn’t have to be perfect, there just needs to be a wee bit of room for the next round of staples. But you also don’t want to cut it too close or the batting will pull out.

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

So. Now you have a board with feet, and batting stapled to it. It’s time to add the muslin.

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

You just do exactly the same thing, except go a little further so the muslin covers the staples in the batting and you’re not putting staples on top of staples. First the middles of the sides — don’t forget to pull the fabric tight!

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

Work your way toward the corners, then fold and staple the corners the same way:

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

Trim the muslin so it’s neat but not too close to the staples — maybe 1/2″ if you can?

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

And voila! You have a handy, somewhat portable, completely flat and smooth ironing surface to grace your work table or console.

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

To keep the muslin from staining toooo quickly, I threw a scrap of cute fabric over it. I’ll make it into a real cover eventually.

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

What about you? Do you sew? Do you use a regular ironing board or a surface like this one?

~Angela :-)

Linking to: Redoux Interiors, Katherine’s Corner, French Country Cottage, Common Ground, Fine Craft Guild, Cozy Little House,, The Shabby Creek Cottage, Crafts a la Mode, Mockingbird Hill Cottage, Tater Tots & Jello, Be Different Act Normal, Classy Clutter, I Heart Nap Time, Sunny Simple Life, Sew Many Ways, Uncommon Designs, The Dedicated House, A Stroll Through Life, Freemotion by the River, Home Stories A to Z, Homemade Ginger

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  1. I’ve always been bothered with having the ironing board in my craft room, or in another room that I had to go to every time I needed to iron a seam! But did I EVER think of something like this? Uh, that would be a big NO!! Girl, you ARE brilliant! Oh, and a side note, that fabric you laid over the top….looks identical to what I used to make an ironing board cover a while back! Two great minds? No, just one….and I’m gonna copy this idea!! Thanks……again!

    • Hee hee hee! Totally great minds! That scrap was a gift from a friend, it’s pillow ticking, and I really love it. Copy away! πŸ™‚ ~Angela~

  2. I live in an apartment and you make me want a house with a garage like you have. This is a very neat idea. Of course, I had all kinds of questions but you answered all of them in the correct order. I will be on the lookout for the plywood and the other products. I do have one question on the staple gun. Do you just have a manual one or is it an electric? This is one thing I think I could really use so I would like your advice.

    Keep up the great work. Love your blog.


    • Thank you so much, Molly! I promise that having a garage is both a blessing AND a curse. The reason I can find so much stuff in there is because it’s FULL OF STUFF! Definitely not a pretty sight! πŸ™‚

      On the staple gun — I just have an old manual one. I’ve thought it would be nice to have an electric or air powered one (is there such a thing?), but we are trying to “de-convenience” our life, and go with manual over power when possible (I should probably write a blog post about that). And since I don’t use a staple gun very often, it works fine for me. Less storage space, too!

      Thanks so much for the positive words! I really appreciate it!


  3. I only wish I sewed! I’ve always envied people who can do it and do it well…that’s a real talent!

    What an ingenious little ironing surface.

    Cindy at Notes in the Key of Life

    • Thank you, Cindy! I taught myself to sew when I was in about 5th grade, so I have been sewing for so long it just seems second nature. It’s really really easy, I promise!! Thank you so much, and thank you for stopping by! ~Angela~

  4. I just love this…cute and functional! I am finally organizing my “creative space” and this will be a great addition since I don’t own an ironing board. Thanks for your great tute!

    • Thank you, Dennise!! I am really loving it, I have to say. Not only is it smaller, etc.., but it’s such a nicer surface to iron on than an ironing board! Much firmer and flatter and more solid. I did keep my ironing board, but I have to say, I’m not usre how much use it’s going to get now! πŸ™‚ ~Angela~

  5. Thats a really cool idea for an ironing surface. I got a sewing machine last year for Christmas and have only used it once. I am scared of it and need to get it out and start practicing! This is a great idea for a quick ironing surface. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Jennifer! I’ve been meaning to make one for years (I’m certainly not the inventor of this idea), but I finally got forced into it with my new space being smaller. I’m so glad I did! I like it much better than an ironing board. Don’t let the sewing machine scare you — it’s easy!! ~Angela~

  6. That’s so cute and especially charming with the legs!

    Plywood sounds like a good idea. My daughter paints and sometimes she uses MDF. Well she left one out in the rain and now it is C shaped.

    • Exactly! It can even start to disintigrate! I figured that between the heat and the moisture from the iron it’d be a goner in no time! You could use regular wood, but I think you might have the same issues. I tried to iron on a regular 1″x10″ board once and even though it seemed flat, it definitely wasn’t and I couldn’t get a good press on. I’m loving the plywood. ~Angela~

  7. What a great idea! I love that little board…I don’t sew much anymore, but it could be used for many little projects.

    • Thank you, Balisha! It really is quite useful. I’m sorry I didn’t make one years ago! Thanks for stopping by! ~Angela~

  8. Great idea! I love that picture with the small helping hand! I just began sewing and right now, I have the sewing machine in the dining-room and the ironing board in the spare bedroom upstairs, so I’m learning to sew and I exercise at the same time!!!

    • Hahaha! Well, I suppose that’s one way to get your aerobics in! I wish I was that disciplined. If I had to go into a different room to press I’d just give up sewing! Not a good testimony to my sticktoitiveness, I’m afraid.

      Yes, that is my little 3 1/2 year old daughter. She wanted to help so badly, and I just had to take a picture! πŸ™‚


  9. You are to be commended. 1) for sewing 2) for ironing 3) for a marvelous and thorough tutorial. Even though I don’t do 1 or 2 (**

  10. Very smart. I had a couple of small ironing boards, the bitty ones they make for clothes? Neither was stable or wide enough to efficiently press seams of quilt blocks because they were kind of optimized for dress shirt sleeves, I kept tipping them over. Also, this would be a lot easier to take downstairs to the kitchen table if I was going to work on something down there – the big ironing board is a pain to carry up and down the stairs.

    As far as the staple gun comment above, manual staple guns are VERY powerful. I think the advantage of the electrified ones isn’t in the kick, but if you’re going to be using it a lot like in construction, the wear and tear it saves on your arm.

    • I have to say, I’m in love with this thing. I’ve been using a regular ironing board for years, and it doesn’t have the same feel at all. I didn’t know what I was missing! The board is completely flat and really firm, and it presses like a dream. Less pressure and heat to get the same crispness. I love it. And yeah, way more portable!

      I can totally see the advantage of an electric/air staple gun. I could barely do all the staples on this tiny project (actually, I *didn’t* do them all), and it did wear my arm out. I think if I were going to do upholstery or construction regularly, I’d definitely want a powered one.

      Thanks for stopping by!! ~Angela~

  11. Nice. thanks for the complete instructions and also the whys. I just iron on a little table I have next to my sewing machine, but I think I’m going to make myself a little ironing board like you have. It’s so neat looking (and maybe I won’t ruin my table either.) Take care, Love your blog and your instructions! Linda

  12. What a great idea. I’m pinning this. I stopped by from Sunny Simple.

    • Thank you so much, Kim! I can’t take credit for the basic idea of an ironing surface — there’s lots of tutorials out there on this. The little feet I haven’t seen in others, though. Glad you stopped by! ~Angela~

  13. Thanks for sharing this tutorial. I think this is a great solution for a problem I face in my small sewing studio. I’ve seen pressing boards similar to this before but they were much bigger. The ones I read about several years ago called for an old wool blanket or wool batting to absorb the moisture and steam. My dear, little mother gave me a vintage wool blanket she used in college – a soft, pink, wool blanket – to use and I’ve never had the heart to cut it up! I like your idea and I’ll have my sweetheart help me put one together in the near future! I’m just putting my space back together after several months with our daughter and four grandkids living with us and having my studio turned into a bedroom for two of them. They are settled in their new home not far from us so I’m getting things ready to create again.

    • I think it’s a great solution for a small space! Ironing boards take up soooo much room! Gosh a pink wool blanket? I couldn’t cut it up either!! Even if I had a ugly wool blanket, I’d put it inside of a quilt, not on a pressing surface! πŸ™‚ I can totally understand why you wouldn’t want to cut up a pretty pink one. Good luck on getting your space back together! It’s a lot of work, but nice to have the chance to reevaluate what you want to have in your space, don’t you think? Thanks for stopping by, my friend! ~Angela~

  14. This is such a neat idea, Angela. I have my ironing board upstairs in the closet, but it is such a big and bulky thing. I often use a mat I got years ago for quilting. But yours is so much more practical and attractive!

    Thanks so much for joining in this week!


    • Thank you, Claudia! I used to have one of those mat things, but I never really loved it and eventually it came apart (it was a ironing surface on one side and a cutting surface on the other). Now that I have this little guy, I can’t imagine going back to a full-size ironing board! Thanks for hosting your party, it’s a great one. ~Angela~

  15. Such a clever idea and how wonderful to not have to get out the ironing board! Thanks so much for creating and sharing the tutorial with us.

    Happy week to you!

    • Thank you, Sally! I’m glad it was useful! I am really hoping I won’t have to get my ironing board out nearly so often now! πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by. ~Angela~

  16. Great tutorial. I hate ironing…giggle…hate it so much I actually blogged about it once. LOL Sorry I’m late getting here…thank you for adding your wonderful blog to the Thursday Favorite Things hop. xo

    • Thank you so much, Katherine! I am weird that way, I actually enjoy ironing — I find it relaxing. I’m sure I’m the only one! Thanks for stopping by! ~Angela~

  17. Amazing that we all have the same idea: to make our own ironing board. Did you see this? I believe in the collective unconscious. It must exist! I love your version though, because you created feet under it. I think that makes sense.

    • Heh heh! I hadn’t seen this one in particular, but I’m definitely NOT the first person to think of this idea! There’s been tutorials for ironing boards going back years! I do like my little feet though. πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by! πŸ™‚ ~Angela~

  18. I wish that I could use this clever idea, but my sewing machine is broken and I am having a very hard time deciding whether or not to buy a new one. I am not sure I have enough time left (lol!) to learn how to use some of the more complicated ones, but those are the ones I really want. What a dilemma! However, I do appreciate your going to all of this trouble to show us how to make this perfect ironing surface!

    • Thank you, Diane! I used a very simple sewing machine for years and years and it worked fine, and then several years ago when I worked as an executive in the dot com industry, I bought myself a really fancy sewing machine and I loooooove it. But here’s the good news: the fancy sewing machines work exactly the same as the old simple ones! Sure they have more features, but you don’t have to use them all (I have had my machine for years and still haven’t used many of it’s features). But, it sews SO BEAUTIFULLY. I love my machine! I say it’s never too late! πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by! ~Angela~

  19. Sweet!! I need something like that. I’d rather have a surface like this than our big, bulky board that we use now.

    • Yes! I love it. I used to use a big regular ironing board and it was so unwieldy! This is way better. Thanks for stopping by! ~Angela~

  20. This looks beautiful as well as being functional! Great photos and tutorial! Thanks for sharing!
    Freemotion by the River Linky Party Tuesday

    • Thanks Connie! I’m excited to join your party more often now that I’m sewing more regularly! Thanks for stopping by! ~Angela~

  21. What a super idea. I needed one of these when we had the motorhome. Thanks for joining TTT. Hugs, Marty

  22. Linda Petersen says:

    Hi Angela~~~I found you through Mockingbird Hill Cottage, a blog I follow regularly. I love this ironing surface & I will definitely be making my own! I sew & my board is one of those extra wide~~~bulky ones. Hard to set up & not great to leave up very long. Thanks again for sharing! Love your blog too & I’m signing up to get more inspiration :0)

    • Yay! Linda, I’m so glad to hear that! Yes, I love the board now that I have it. I had been meaning to make one for years, but I had my big ironing board and it was working OK, if not great. But now that I have the little board I can’t imagine going back!! Thanks for stopping by! ~Angela~

  23. Hi, I’ve just found your blog and enjoyed quite a while looking through, I love the iron board, great idea. Adding the feet makes it appear more stable than just laying it on a surface. Thank you :o)

    Peg x

    • Thank you, Peg! I really like the legs. Not only is it quite stable, but it helps keep the moisture and heat off the table. I really like it. Thanks for stopping by! ~Angela~

  24. This is a great idea, so creative!


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