How to make an ironing board topper

As I delve deeper and deeper into mixed media, adding more and more supplies and projects to my list of art projects, I find that my studio becomes ever more filled with piles. Where does one put a pile? On top of one’s work table. Where do the other piles live? Right next to the first pile. Sigh. It’s a mess, I tell you! Now that I’m in a cleaning frenzy, life is getting less pile-y at Wild Onion Studio. That won’t always be the case though, and I want to share my secret work space with you all!

When the piles get the best of my space, where do I work?

On top of my ironing board, of course.

When I lived in Chicago, I had a teeny room in my house in which to work, and my ironing board was the only “table” I had. Now that I have a whole big studio, I have hung on to that habit. However, now I have this amazing ironing board topper that measures 22″ x 60″,  made by Mr. Wild Onion for my birthday about 6 years ago. It has become one of my favorite studio tools, second only to my Gammill longarm machine.  Due to the 22″ width of the topper, I can iron fabrics without having to work around the pointed end of the original ironing board; I can also put my cutting mat on top of it, and use the surface as a cutting station!

Here’s how my clever DH constructed the topper:

  • Cut a piece of 1/2″ plywood 60″x22″. This size is light enough to pick up off the ironing board, big enough to press yardage by the half yard without scootching the fabric all over the board.
  • DH sealed the wood by giving it 2 coats of paint, top and bottom. I don’t think this is necessary, but he was giving this to me as a birthday gift, so he felt that he needed to pretty it up a bit
  • Lay your existing ironing board on the bottom side of the plywood, with the ironing board against the plywood to use as a template. Mark around the ironing board with a pencil.
  • ** my ironing board is already finished, so for your purposes, please ignore the wood planks and the muslin! Yours won’t be in place yet.
  • Cut 5 pieces of 1 .5″x .5″ x 14″ of wood plank. Is 1.5″ x .5″ a standard size for a wood plank? I don’t know. I’m also guessing that the 14″ lengths had something to do with that wood piece coming in a 6′ length. What I’m trying to say is, don’t stress out on these sizes!
  • Nail one of the 14″ pieces of wood along the line drawn at the straight back edge of your ironing board marking. These wood pieces will keep the topper from slipping off your ironing board.
  • Nail two of the 14″ pieces of wood along the lines drawn at each of the tapered front edges of your ironing board marking.
  • Nail the remaining two 14″ pieces of wood along the lines drawn at each of the straight sides of your ironing board marking. These 2 steps keep your topper firmly in place when you snug it on top of your ironing board.
  • Important note: make sure to nail the inner edge of your 14″ pieces of wood along the drawn line of your ironing board marking. You can even nail the pieces a bit outside of your marked line. DO NOT nail the outer edge of your 14″ pieces of wood to the drawn line or you will not leave enough space for your ironing board!
  • Cut a piece of 100% cotton batting and 100% cotton muslin 64″ x 26″. Layer both batting and muslin on top of the topper. Fold about 1.5″ over the edge of one long side of your topper; attach to the underside of the topper (the side with the 14″ pieces of wood) with a staple gun. Pull the opposite edge of the batting/muslin over the opposite edge of the topper, staple.
  • Repeat above step on the short sides of your topper.
  • Continue smoothing the batting/muslin over the edges of the topper, stapling every 2-3″ to secure your new ironing surface.
  • You can add fresh muslin on top of this batting/muslin combo whenever you need to clean up your surface. Alternately, if you get fusible on your muslin surface, it’s a snap to rip off just the yucky muslin, leaving the batting stapled on the topper. Repeat the stapling steps with clean muslin.
  • Put your ironing board at a comfortable work height. Now you just place the topper on top of your ironing board, snugging the ironing board inside the area defined by your attached 14″ wood pieces. Make sure the ironing board sits within the confines of your nailed planks for stability!

I have become a convert to pressing on a hard surface; I find that the pressed fabric really does keep a sharper, more accurate crease. This is particularly important when pressing seams for quilting. As a bonus, the harder surface makes a nicer work space, should you plop down your cutting board and rotary cut some fabric.

16 Comments

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16 responses to “How to make an ironing board topper

  1. Hey, that is a great idea Susan. I can see why you love it.

  2. Fabulous idea! Thank you so much for sharing your tutorial and the great photos.
    I imagine I can pick up the components at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store too!

  3. I’ve been trying to explain to Scott how to make one of these. Now I can show him pictures! Yippee!

  4. Sharon

    I’ve had mine for 12 years and it’s 24″ x 60″ and bolted on from the bottom. I wouldn’t take anything in the world for it.

  5. Alison

    From Bristol in England – thank you very much for posting this – really helpful and a lot less expensive than the commercial versiion, even if it was available in the UK which I don’t think it is…………..

  6. Sue Robelia

    Thank you!! I found this idea in a sewing/quilt catalog but couldn’t afford the price they had on it. So I put my husband in charge of trying to do figure out how to do it for me and this will certainly help!!

  7. Shirley

    Just wanted to say Thank You so much for this tute! My DH is going to make me one for my new quilting romm Thank you, thank you!!!

  8. Marcella

    Thank you!!! Thank you!!! I have been talking about wanting something like this for my sewing room for years! My husband finally got around to this project after I found my new cutting table, but wasn’t understanding the whole picture. After he googled this he had it complete and on my exisiting board in a hal hour (no paint and I will be making the cover). Looks good!!!!

  9. Ruth Ann

    Mine is 25″x54″ and I love it…I just saw a blue pad on someone else’s and I want one! Does anyone know where to get these? I, too, like a fairly hard surface..

  10. Pingback: DIY Ironing Board Topper | mulberrypatchquilts

  11. Kristin B

    These were wonderful instructions. I just made my ironing board. And I love it! It’s a perfect work area as well as a pressing spot. Thank you for sharing!

  12. rick

    I bought a 4′ x 8′ sheet of 3/8 plywood at Lowes and they do 1 cut free. Had them slice at 19.5″ to fit our longarm table.

  13. Great idea!! Thank you! My mum is worried about where to buy bigger . I have decided to make her an ironing topper to surprise her. Very Appreciated!!

  14. Jude

    I’m going to have my husband help me make this. Right now, I do all of my work on the middle of my ironing board. Having the extra space at the right height for me will be wonderful. Thanks for this.

  15. Pingback: Need more ironing space?

  16. pat v

    Ever since I saw your article about your ironing board “extender” I knew I wanted one. Yesterday my husband made me one. I’m working on small 16 patch quilt blocks right now and boy is it nice to to have the extra ironing space. Your a genius. Thanks for sharing. pat v

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