Today I want to talk about my absolute favorite retreat tool: a portable ironing board. People that know me well know that I am lazy efficient. I can’t stand it when something takes longer than it has to. At retreats and sew-ins, there are typically a few communal ironing boards set up around the room. This means, if you are piecing blocks, you will have to get up many times and walk across the room to iron just a little bit, and then go sit back down. Not only is that tiring, it is slow.

I had the idea to make a portable ironing board that I could bring with me, so I wouldn’t have to keep getting up. I had originally envisioned just a table-top ironing surface; kind of just a square piece of wood wrapped in batting. But, I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, so I first googled it and came upon Oh, Fransson’s tutorial for a pressing table made from a tv tray. I decided to make my own, with a few modifications to suit my tastes, including a removable/washable cover. I thought I would give a really quick tutorial on what I did differently in case it helps anyone!First, I bought a tv table at Target for $10. I chose black, but I think they also came in pine. It is a little wobbly, which I am not thrilled about, but one day I will sand the feet flat.

I use a fair amount of steam while pressing (sorry quilt police!). I didn’t want to warp my table or wreck it, so I covered the table in aluminum foil. It took two widths, and I taped the seam so it is completely sealed with scotch tape. The foil both protects the table from steam and water and heavy starching and reflects the heat back, helping you get nice, crisp seams. I didn’t tape the foil or anything around the edges; I just wrapped it around. It will get secured in the next steps.

Puffy surfaces drive me a little crazy and don’t make as crisp of a seam, so I used less batting than she called for. I used only two layers of Warm ‘n Natural batting, cut to about a half inch larger around the table. I notched out the corners to reduce bulk. I also cut a piece of Kona cotton about 2.5 inches larger all around. Home dec fabric would have been more durable, but I didn’t have any lying around.

I folded the Kona over twice (each fold a bit over one inch), pulled it tight over the edge, and used a staple gun to secure it. At the corners, I first folded in the tip of the corner:

And then folded in the two sides:

And stapled some more.

This is it finished with its permanent cover:

However, I sometimes use starch, and that makes your ironing board gross. I needed a removable cover so I could wash it. I did not want to have to pry out staples every once in awhile to clean my board!

I cut a piece of Amy Butler fabric about four inches larger than my table all around.

I folded each corner diagonally, and drew a line at four inches in. I sewed across this line to box my corners. Your table might have different dimensions, so double check!

After boxing the corners, I checked the fit. You want the corners of the fabric to sit right on the corners of the table. At this point it is relatively simple to fix if it isn’t.

You can trim off the extra flap of fabric from boxing the corners if you want. Then, on the inside, draw a line about 1.25 inches from the edge all the way around. Fold the edge up about a quarter inch and press, and then fold this new edge up to the line and press, all the way around.

Stitch close to the inner folded edge all the way around, leaving a 1-2 inch gap for pulling through elastic later. Thread a bodkin or safety pin with a long length of quarter inch or so elastic and pull it all the way through.

Put your cover on your table, pull the elastic relatively tight, and tie a square knot. Before you cut your elastic tails, make sure the elastic isn’t so tight you can’t remove your cover!

Then, you are done! I’m not sure why I forgot to take a photo of the finished table, but it might have had something to do with my “helpers” swarming around while I was trying to do this!

To go with my spiffy new table, I bought a little travel iron for about $9 at Target. I hear Rowenta makes one too, if you want to get fancy, but mine works just fine. It gets plenty hot and I could fill it for steam if I wanted to.

I actually keep my table out all the time at home, tucked under the side of my sewing table. When I’m just piecing blocks and don’t want to drag out my gigantic ironing board, it works perfectly right beside me while I’m sewing so all I have to do is turn to the side.

One last thing: Elizabeth made a beautiful sleeve/carrying thing for the one for her swap, but I am far too lazy for that. I took a long piece of Velcro One Wrap (get it at Jo-Ann’s with a coupon), and wrapped it around both legs of my table for transport. Then I just carry it by the legs/leg bar, over my shoulder like a purse.

This post was originally published on the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild website.