One of the single most important tools in your sewing / quilting room is your pressing or ironing board. Unfortunately most ironing boards are created with squishy foam covers that provide almost no stability for the fabric as you press.
Your goal with starching and pressing fabric is to stiffen the surface by bonding the starch to the fabric fibers. When the fabric is able to move on the ironing board, it's very easy to stretch and skew the fabric out of shape. By using a firm pressing board, the fabric will remain square and stable and the starch will be forced to bond with the fabric, not with the iron or the pressing board.
For years I used the hardest ironing board I could find, even searching antique stores to look for ironing boards made of wood. Then I discovered this wonderful tutorial by expert machine quilter Sharon Schamber. Since 2008, I've used this method to build several firm pressing boards in all shapes and sizes.
Learn how to create your own quilting ironing board with this video from Sharon Schamber:
Building your own quilting ironing board has many advantages over searching for a premade board:
Inexpensive, easy project - Building your own board uses simple materials you can find at the hardware store. Most stores can also precut your wood so you won't even have to worry about bringing home a huge piece of plywood and cutting it down yourself.
Firm surface - You really can't beat this method for creating a super firm, stable surface for pressing fabric.
Durability - Inexpensive ironing boards wear out in months. My pressing boards have lasted for years and the only reason I've recovered the surface is because the canvas began to look a bit worn.
Customization - You can build your pressing board any size and shape you need! Build a large board for pressing yardage, and a second for pressing small projects next to your machine. While you're at it, build another one for travel so you'll never be caught at a workshop without it!
I cannot emphasize just how big a difference it will make to use a firm pressing board for preparing your fabric for quilt making! Definitely build your board today and see how much better your quilt blocks look after cutting and piecing fabric prepared on a firm pressing board.
If you enjoyed this article, you'll love all the helpful tips and piecing insight from my book How to Piece Perfect Quilts. This book covers all the basics to piecing and includes five cute quilt projects to piece step-by-step.
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