My enthusiasm for workshop work is waning fast. Currently, I’m trying to complete some of the smaller projects that will have a high payoff in the short term, like a new ironing board. As a sewist, I use a cutting board and ironing board as equally (if not more) often as my sewing machine. The last time I gave attention to my ironing situation was when I made new padding and covers for my small, tabletop ironing board 3.5 years ago. Now that I have built myself a true workshop (albeit still in progress), I felt it was time to have an appropriate ironing surface. I’d planned to make it out of metal, ready for the decades ahead, but it turns out that I have a garage full of MDF scraps. Sure, MDF will warp from heat and swell from water, eventually, but it is free scrap and will last for many years. So, I made a small investment in some cover material and got to work.
A quick shot so you can see the size. This is two layers in. The next photos break down the process and I explain. With a luxurious, large surface like this, I also wanted a tiny, itty-bitty surface to keep next to the sewing machine. Why? Sometimes, you only need to press open a seam quickly before sewing the piece again. With a tiny surface next to the machine, I can use a tiny iron (yet to purchase) or my Clover mini-iron, (as soon as I find what box it is in) which was made for fast seam presses, without getting out of my chair and moving over to the large surface. Efficiency is the goal here.
Using the itty-bitty ironing board as an example, these are the first layers. That 2×3 will serve as the legs or stand, simply to keep it above the table a little. Then, the MDF base. Both bases are part of the recycled sewing table top project, so they have been painted and sealed heavily. That said, I left the cut edges bare. It will still be fine for many years. Next layer, right against the base is a low-loft cotton batting. At this point I should have put in a layer of Insul-Brite (a metal-laced, heat reflective batting) but quite frankly I forgot all about it. After the batting is a thin layer of white muslin to keep everything in place. A single layer of batting wouldn’t hold up to much stretching and stapling, so the muslin does the structural work for it.
Like that jagged edge there? Yeah, me too. It was done with a pair of hand-me-down shears that have about 1.5 inches of actual cutting edge. One day I might take them apart and see if I can sharpen them, but I don’t have high hopes. This is what you get reduced to when all your supplies are in boxes and your boxes are covered in sawdust. Although, technically, in this case it is sanding dust.
Not shown in the photos is the stage when you attach the legs to the base. You can probably imagine what gluing, clamping, and screwing wood onto wood looks like, though.
Once the batting and muslin was stretched tight and stapled all around, I put strips of felt (more recycling!) on the legged base so it wouldn’t scratch up the sewing table. Truly, I’ve already Scratched The Fuck out of the table, but at least I won’t cause further damage now. The big ironing board, while heavy, is easily slid off the table and under it in case I need more clear table surface.
With the underlayers done, (and a quick trip to the hardware store for more staples) I moved on to the semi-permanent cover. Since this is aluminized cotton, it won’t need washing like your average cotton fabric cover would. This stuff is resilient, heat-reflective, and wipes clean. All this means that I simply stapled it as the last layer instead of making a removable cover. Fast and easy. And it looks Damn Sharp! Plus, now I have some scraps that can be the underside of hot pads or oven mitts. Or a weird scarf, because it looks so cool.
The big board takes up a good chunk of table real estate, but it also serves as a work surface itself. You can see my itty bitty ironing board next to it. Twee!
After all that, I needed the pleasure of actually making something crafty. The new ironing board works wonderfully! Especially for projects that need a lot of pre-sewing assembly and heat, like Scrappy Cats.
Complete success! Yea!
The fabric shelves in the background are starting to slowly fill in. My existing fabric boxes are bigger than the shelves, but the folded fabric does fit up there, as you can see. It is temporary, of course. I just don’t want to spend hours and hours refolding fabric right now. The folded fabric is being shoved onto a shelf any time I need to open a box. New fabric is folded onto its own cardboard bolt center as it comes into the workshop or is pulled out of a box. I’ve decided that even though using centers like this will add bulk to the fabric storage, the payoff in ease of handling is worth it. They keep their shape, are easy to pull down and roll back up. Eventually, all the fabric will look neat and tidy, but not yet.
Yea for more progress. I am about burned out on workshop work, but still have some cabinets to build yet. And those damn desk drawers, which I haven’t even finished cutting yet. Oh well, both those can wait until the fall rolls around and with it, much cooler temperatures so that I don’t have to risk heat exhaustion when cutting wood in the garage.
While I wait, I have some sewing projects lined up, and I start my Metals class tomorrow! Woot! AmyKatt and I are taking it together, so I will have some friendly company while learning cool stuff. I am ridiculously excited.