Costume design, vintage sewing machines, painting

Portable ironing tabletop tutorial, super-easy!


I have been frustrated for many, many years by trying to iron significant yardages of fabric on my plain old ironing board.  I’ve drooled over the big, sturdy tables in various costume shops, and finally decided to make my own!  Being a fan of using what I have on hand, I began looking in the various nooks & crannies of the house, and found everything I needed.  I have a table that started its life as a faux walnut & chrome kitchenette table, that I have since painted a high-gloss red (Ray Miller might recognise the table). With my recent studio re-arrangement, I finally have a nice nook for ironing, I even managed to incorporate the odd built-in cabinet that is hiding a water pipe.


I wanted my ironing table surface to be removable, since this is the table that my dad uses for legos & puzzles when he visits, it is also my “overflow” table.  When we moved into this house, we found 8 sheets of something called eucatex board, 4’X8′, about 1/4″ thick.  Ideally, I wanted my backing board to be 1/2″ thick, so I cut 2 pieces of the board to the measurements of my tabletop (32″X45″), then layered the two pieces with some liquid nails in-between to make the 1/2″ thickness, then clamped it until dry.  (In retrospect, I think I would have preferred a 1/2″ thick plywood).

While these pieces were clamped & drying, I began to work on the top layers.  I’ve seen plenty of tutorials that suggest using old wool blankets between the base & top layer, but I am allergic to wool & don’t have any wool blankets lying around.  I do, however, have an old comforter that dates from the time that hubby & I were first married (our first bedding set!) that has languished in a linen closet for years.  I pulled it out & found it to be the perfect thickness; not too fluffy, but not too flat.  The edges were a little lumpy, but the areas that were quilted were nice & even.  I just trimmed off the outer edges & cut a piece the same size as my tabletop.  Incidentally, I still have enough leftover to make my daughter her baby quilt (she’s now two years old). 😛

I then laid my top fabric face-down on my cutting table, followed by a layer of white 100% cotton (partly to hide the plaid, partly to further smooth the layers.  I laid the plaid comforter piece on top of that to use as a template & cut the other two layers 2″ wider all around.

By now, the sandwiched board layers were dry, so I laid them on top of the fabric layers & got ready to staple in place.  (Pause for about 15 mins as I take apart my electric staple gun to figure out why it’s not working, figure it out, reassemble, and lock&load!) I started at the center of one long edge, folded all layers up & over the board, pulling taut, and stapling in place.  I did two additional staples about 3″ to either side of the first one, then did the same along the opposite long edge.  I then put a staple at the center of each of the short edges, and continued alternating sides until I got to the corners.  If you’ve ever stretched a canvas, the process is nearly identical.  At the corners, I pulled each corner over the board diagonally & stapled in place, then secured any remaining fabric flaps. The main reason I would have preferred to use 1/2″ thick plywood is that the smooth & hard surface of the eucatex did not staple well.  I had to tap each staple further into place with a hammer, but they still stuck out more than I’d prefer.  For this reason, I plan to put a layer of that rubbery carpet backing on it, which will also keep it in place on the table.  And there it is; pretty, functioanl & cost zero dollars!



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This entry was posted on July 9, 2011 by and tagged , , , .