What is a pressing table? The surface is solid—unlike the squishy layers of an ironing board. I made mine using OSB board, cotton batting, and cotton duck cloth. This is not my original idea. I built my pressing surface using step-by-step video instructions from Sharon Schamber on YouTube. Click here to watch Sharon’s video.
Why not just use an ironing board? The hard surface of a pressing table allows for more precise pressing—fabric doesn’t shift as you press seams in a block. If you have room in your studio for a larger surface go for it—its great when you’re pressing yardage, a quilt backing, or a top.
My recommendation is to build the largest surface you have room for. When I was planning my project, I used masking tape on the floor to see just how much room I had. If you build a table, you’ll need space on all sides. A general rule of thumb is to allow 24” to 30” as a walkway. You don’t need that much space on all sides of your table, just enough to work comfortably on one side. You will want a few inches for yardage to spill over one side, though. I built my table using a counter-height table base purchased at Ikea and OSB board cut to size at the lumberyard. The finished size of my table is 36” deep x 60” wide. Pressing yardage, tops, and batting is a lot easier on this rectangular surface than on an ironing board.
I’ve seen pressing surfaces as large as 30” x 80”. Great if you have the space! I chose 36” x 60”: it fits comfortably into my room and I have access on all four sides. Now, when pressing yardage, I can open up the fabric and press one complete 36” section at a time.
I’ve been making quilts for a long time, always using an ironing board for pressing. This may sound overly dramatic, but I’m going to say it anyway: my pressing table has improved the quality of my life. Well, for sure, my quilting life.
This is a do-it-yourself project that can be fairly inexpensive. Do-it-yourself for me literally means: I do it myself. Once I decided on the size of the surface, I looked for a used piece of furniture or an old desk that would work for the base. I found a wonderful old cabinet, counter-top height, which was used in a science lab, at a local resale shop. The height was perfect and the cabinet had doors and shelves for storage. I envisioned painting it a bright color and using all that extra storage. But, thinking it through, I realized that after the resale shop loaded the cabinet into my car, I still had to get it out and into my lower level studio. I couldn’t do that alone. So, the fifty dollar bargain was not a bargain if I had to pay a handyman to stop by and help me get it where it needed to be.
I finally found the perfect solution at Ikea. The table base I purchased is built to withstand heavy use, can be assembled by one person, and is the perfect height.
Materials. Here are the materials I used to build my table (total expenses $146.50):
- Ikea UTBY table base, 47 ¼ x 23 5/8 x 35 3/8”, (article number 101.175.61), ($89.00)
- 4’ x 8’ OSB board cut to 36” x 60” ($16.00)
- Coping saw ($9.50)
- 2 yards 100% cotton batting ($16.00)
- 2 yards 100% cotton duck ($16.00)
- Staple gun and staples
- Scissors and rotary cutter
1. Prepare your table base (assemble, paint, etc.)
2. Use a glass and a permanent marker to draw a curve, then use a coping saw to round the corners. Sand the rough bits away.
3. Screw the OSB top to the table base with the screws provided. (Or, ask your handyman to help you with this step.) For a table, the top should be securely fixed to your base.
4. Cut the batting 2 to 3 inches bigger than the top on all sides and spread on the OSB board.
5. Cut the cotton duck 4 to 6 inches bigger than the top on all sides and staple. Start with the center of each side, and go around the underside of the table, until the canvas is secure.
6. Completely saturate the canvas with a spray bottle of water and let it dry overnight. (The canvas shrinks creating a taut surface.)
Do you have ideas to share about your pressing surface? Please leave a comment.