For my birthday this year, I asked my husband to help me modify my ironing board. I had been eyeing a tutorial by my friend Terri Ann @Childlike Fascination. I have been using the large board for almost 2 months now and *loving* it – a fat quarter fits on the top as do full widths of quilting fabric opened up with room for my iron to spare! Because my husband is quite handy and we have a lot of tools available, I thought I’d fill in some details in case you want to cut your own plywood board, etc.
Physical Supply List
- 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood
- I will talk about how we cut down the full sheet to 55″ by 19″, but you could have the hardware store do this step for you
- I used 17.5 mm / 11/16-inch thick Pine Plywood, other thicknesses could work
- 100% Cotton batting
- I used 4 layers which used 2 packages of crib size batting
- 100% Cotton duck canvas
- I found 60-inch wide duck canvas at Joann’s and purchased 2/3 yard
- Staples shorter than the depth of your board
- We used 3/8″ staples
- Shorter than the thickness of the plywood
- Optional: Washers
- My ironing board had pre-existing small holes in it already and did not need washers. If your base ironing board is a wire mesh, you will need washers under the heads of your screws.
- Measuring Tape
- Marking Pencil
- Round Object
- I used a bowl from my kitchen to mark rounded corners
- Electric Drill
- Circular Saw
- Or have the hardware store pre-cut for you
- Or have the hardware store pre-cut for you
- We used a disc sander, but sanding by hand will work
- Staple gun
- Optional: Router
- We used a bull nose bit to round the edges, but you can also round the corners by sanding them by hand.
Step 1 – Remove Ironing Board Cover
When I removed my ironing board cover, this is what the structure of the top of my ironing board looked like. Many ironing boards resemble a wire mesh. You might want to do this step before you go to the hardware store to buy supplies as this is a good time to check to see if you need washers to go under the screw heads that will mount your ironing board to the new top in the final step.
Step 2 – Mark Out Size to Cut from Plywood
Using a measuring tape and marking tool, make several marks 19″ away from one long edge of the sheet of plywood. Using a large straight edge, connect those marks. Using a measuring tape and marking tool, make several marks 55″ away from one short edge of the sheet of plywood. Using a large straight edge, connect those marks. This will create a 19″ by 55″ rectangle out of one corner of the 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood.
Step 3 – Fit Check and Mark Locations for Screws
My husband and I are firm believers in the adage “measure twice, cut once”. Prior to cutting out your new plywood top from the sheet of plywood, flip your ironing board upside down and place it in the marked rectangle. Does the size look appropriate? Are you happy with this size?
Things to consider at this point are that the 55″ length should be pretty long compared to the width of your leg supports, and the end with the point in your original ironing board will be much heavier than before with the plywood top installed, so biasing the top to overhang the wider portion of your base ironing board as much as possible would be wise. Just note that the longer you make the plywood board, the heavier and less stable it will be.
I drew a circle inside each hole that I wanted to use to screw the plywood to the ironing board in the final step at this point.
Step 4 – Pre-Drill Screw Holes
Remove the ironing board from the plywood and pre-drill all the marked locations for the screws.
Note that we also had marked a line down the center of the length of the board to help us position the ironing board during the fit check.
Step 5 – Use Circular Saw to Cut Plywood to Size
My husband and I placed the 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood on stacks of cardboard boxes to keep it off the ground. We also heavily believe in personal protective equipment: my husband wore a full face respirator and hearing protection.
Step 6 – Mark Rounded Corners
I used a bowl from my kitchen to create the rounded corner shapes for the 4 corners of my top. I highly recommend rounding the corners and not keeping them square.
Step 7 – Use Jigsaw to Cut Corners Round
The best advice for using a jigsaw is to cut just outside of the marked line, and don’t worry if the start and end of the cut are not perfect, the next step is to sand those areas smooth. 🙂
Step 8 – Sand Sides of Plywood
Specifically, this step is to sand smooth the the newly cut rounded corners to the straight sides of the plywood top.
Step 9 – Sand Sharp Edges
We used a bull nose bit in a router to round the edges, but you can also round the edges by sanding them by hand. This step helps tug / smooth the batting and duck canvas, so I recommend doing it to both sides of the plywood.
Step 10 – Secure Batting to Plywood
Place 4 layers of 100% cotton* batting on a flat surface, then center the plywood on top of the layers of batting, wrong side up. Starting in the center of the longest sides, gently wrap and pull the batting around the edge of the plywood and secure with a staple.
We stapled the batting 1/2″ to 1″ away from the edge of the plywood and then trimmed the batting back to the edge of the staples so that the duck canvas would entirely cover these staples in the next step. You might need to trim a little extra batting away in the corners where it bunches up.
*Note that it is important to use 100% cotton because a hot iron may cause polyester or synthetic materials to melt.
Step 11 – Secure Duck Canvas to Plywood
We chose to take our time with the corners and worked out a system of stapling the very center of the curve and then pleating and folding the fabric to get a smoother corner.
Step 12 – Secure (Screw) Ironing Board Base to Plywood Top
Flip your ironing board base upside down and drive screws into the pre-marked and drilled holes.
- My ironing board had pre-existing small holes in it already and did not need washers. If your base ironing board is a wire mesh, you will need washers under the heads of your screws. Washers will also help keep the heads of your screws from working their way through the holes over time, so if the heads of your screws are not larger than the hole size or very close to the same size, please use a washer.
I am so thrilled with how well this modification to my ironing board works for me. A fat quarter fits perfectly on the top, and I can open up a full width of fabric to press (as shown above) with room for my iron to sit to the side. The plywood top is heavier than before, and my ironing board is larger than before, but the base has held up fine with the extra weight for 2 months and ironing long seams and large pieces of fabric (quilt backings!) is so much easier now.
Linking up with Tips and Tutorials Tuesday.
103 thoughts on “How to Modify Your Ironing Board into a Rectangular (Quilter’s) Ironing Board”
Hello Yvonne! Sorry that I missed this great post! Julie C posted it on her blog and I was just going over a few blogs before calling it a night. Yet, I had to come and see how you had done yours. I have wanted to have a larger ironing board for quite some time, but then go and forget about it. LOL. This time, I posted it to my hubbies FB page! Thank you and your husband for doing a great tutorial on putting this together! Your new ironing board is fabulous! Have a stupendous time using it for yards and yards to come! Have a great day!
I have a heavy duty board that I think would be well suited to this adaptation. Can you still fold your board up? I might need extra floor space occasionally.
Esta genial la idea,gracias !
I love it. Just what I’ve been wanting for years. Now to get it done. Thanks for sharing.
These are great instructions. I just finished making one for myself and it will make it so much easier when I’m making quilts and valances. Instead of duck canvas, I used ironing board fabric I found at JoAnn Fabrics but I did use the crib size batting as you suggested and that worked perfectly. Thanks!
I was wondering if a different fabric would work instead of duck. Thanks for sharing.
I used muslin fabric for mine.
I extended the length and the width of my ironing board probably 5+ years ago. Love the instructions here! It would have been much easier even though mine is similar! My suggestion is to Definitely keep the duck canvas fabric!! It gives a good heavy solid base I used aluminum foil on my ironing board before the duck canvas and then two layers 100% cotton batting. I then used another layer of the duct canvas for my top layer of which I iron on!
Hi! This looks really helpful! Thank you for posting. One thing I would add is the heat reflective material on top of the batting under the cotton duck. My ironing board is close to 48 years old and the covers (probably 6 or more as mom used to just add covers on top, instead of replacing them when they tore) all have some sort of heat reflective material on them. Just a thought! Thanks again for the tutorial! Cheers!
I set up a barter exchange with a neighbor…he made me this ironing board-in all purple I might add-and I made him a throw quilt. LOVE this bigger board-makes such a difference when tackling yardage. thanks for your great ideas! Love your work and site. Katie
This is just what I was looking for. I’m new to quilt making but not to sewing. Thanks for taking the time to put this where I could find it.
I happened on your tutorial by accident and am SO happy that I did!! I ran out to my local home store, selected some nice 3/4″ plywood and had them cut the size I wanted (which they do for free God bless them!). I also selected washers and screws based on your advice. I had already bought batting, InsulBright and cotton duck, then went ahead and put it together. I don’t have a jigsaw but I do have a good electric hand-sander so I just sanded the corners to round them a bit. Well, I got it all together, opened the ironing board legs, went to lift it up and almost croaked, it was so heavy!! I had installed a special hanger on my sewing room wall so I could put my board away when not using it. But I could barely lift it up to hang! And if that wasn’t enough, my old metal ironing board did not like it at all, it immediately developed a dangerous tilt.
But it takes a lot to discourage me so I found and bought a sturdy, wider-than normal ironing board (on sale – yay!). Went back to my home store and did a purchase repeat of 1/2″ plywood instead of 3/4″. To make a short story long – ha-ha – I ended up with the perfect quilting board! Mine is 55″ x 22″, the 1/2″ board is sturdy and stiff enough and best of all, my new board is not too heavy to lift!! Thank you for sharing this marvelous idea!
Muy buena idea gracias por compartir
Hi, your project looked well thought out. The one thing that I did differently was to use particle board. This allows you to stick pins in it when you are trying to hold down one end. Thanks for sharing.
My husband made me a large rectangular top similar to this several years ago but we did not attach it to the ironing board. Instead, he cut wood blocks that we screwed into the bottom of the board, using the ironing board for the positioning. The new rectangular board fits snugly and does not move around. The advantage is that it is easily lifted off and leaned up against a wall or slid under a bed when you want to use the ironing board as is. Sometimes you just need to have that shaped rounded end. Another modification I made is to use 100% quilting cotton as a cover. When the cover gets scorched or looks worn as it inevitably will, I just lay the board upside down on a new piece of fabric and staple it on. I don’t remove the old covers since that actually adds a tiny bit more padding. I think I’m on my 4th layer by now. Each new layer needs to be just a bit bigger so the staples don’t fall in the same places. A two yard piece of something you probably won’t use in a quilt anyway works great!
My husband also made a large rectangular top for my ironing board and I love it. I make a lot of quilt tops and backs for our church sewing group and the larger size really helps. It is heavy but I can still lift it and take it off if I want to use the regular sized ironing board. My ironing board also can be made wider on the end so that gives it more support than a small ended one would.
Ancilla – your comment is almost 3 years old on the dot, so you almost certainly won’t see this reply, but I just had to say that your idea for making a removable top is pure genius!!!! I might even be able to do your version on my own if the hardware store will cut the board for me. I’ll probably use particle board, as plywood is now almost $100 a sheet! Thank you for sharing your idea! And thanks to Yvonne for the original post!! Woo hoo!! (Quilters are the only people on the planet that get excited about ironing lol)
Hi quilting girl, tanks for this good idea! I got an old irontable from friends, but I have one normal in my sewing room.
But I needed a bigger one for special quilt and other big craft works. Now I have it!
Wondering if my unused peg board might work and it would be much lighter to manage in case I wanted to move it.
I say thanks for sharing the information take care i found it useful
Thank you. Have to give it ago.
Just my $0.2 worth: four layers of batting as padding it great for garments, but far too soft for quilting. I found this because my well padded ironing board cover does not give the sharp pressing my quilt blocks need.
CAN YOU COVER WITH WOOL?
My daughter made this for my birthday last year. I love it.
I am excited about upgrading my ironing board. I never liked the skinny design of the iron boards from the store, nor the lovely prices of new ones..I am planning on going to the hardware store in the morning.
These are great instructions for converting an ironing board. I am going to also repurpose my TV trays for smaller machine side boards which come in handy.
I’ve thought about doing this for some time but my iron is a steam station type and emits a lot of steam when ironing.
It can make the board quite damp when I’m ironing several seams or pieces of fabric. My current board is a mesh based one so it dries quickly.
If I were to use a solid board on top I think the dampness would be held in the padding and it could become mouldy.
Does anyone have any thoughts or solutions to this problem?
I drilled holes in my plywood.
I had the same thought. I’m not sure holes in the board would do the trick, which is why I haven’t tried this yet.
I was taking a free-motion longarm class last week and was talking to the instructor about creating a pressing board like this. He definitely recommended drilling A LOT of holes into the board before covering it. He said this gives the heat and steam of the iron a place to go so that it doesn’t get trapped in the board. I mounted my metal ironing board to the plywood first, then drilled holes through the plywood using the existing holes in the ironing board as a guide. I then measured for additional holes outside of the metal ironing board; drilling them at least 2” from the edge of the plywood.
I am using 2 layers of a 100% wool blanket and my top will be a Teflon material. I can’t wait to get mine finished so that I can start using it.
Hi Diann. Just wondering if you felted your wool blanket (washing in very hot water/drying in hot dryer) before using? Did this work out for you as I was planning to do the same?
Wonderful, clear instructions. Have you ever had a dampness problem when using steam?
Thanks for your great ideas!
Finally! Thank you for the terrific idea! All boards should be made like this! Ever try ironing 84″ long curtains or longer on the regular board? So frustrating!
I can’t wait to get hubby cutting board and mounting to my ironing board ….love this , thanks for sharing. I will add heavy duty aluminum foil under the cover as. my mother did this on her ironing board each time she had to replace the cover. Crisp ironing lines are the result
I don’t have room for a full-size board in my duplex, so I’m going to do this for the table-top ironing board I use on top of the washing machine!
I’m glad you are enjoying your full-size board. I love mine and don’t know what I would do without it. Great for making quilt tops for our church sewing group.
I was taking a free-motion longarm class last week and was talking to the instructor about creating a pressing board like this. He definitely recommended drilling A LOT of holes into the plywood before covering it. He said this gives the heat and steam of the iron a place to go so that it doesn’t get trapped in the board. I mounted my metal ironing board to the plywood first, then drilled holes through the plywood using the existing holes in the ironing board as a guide. I then measured for additional holes outside of the metal ironing board; drilling them at least 2” from the edge of the plywood. Lightly sanded the top before putting the cover on.
I found a padded cover size 59” x 22” with Alumitek coating on Amazon for $45.00. Also purchased a wool pressing mat (which is the same size) on Amazon for $69.99 (the fabric store that I frequent had the same item for $179.99) that will go on top.
I made a ironing board almost like this several years ago. I glue baste my charity baby quilts and use a bed sheet on my ironing board to keep it glue free and when I’m done it easy to wash the the sheet.
I know you did this 5 years ago but I just saw it on pinterest….I’ve been waiting and wanting to makemy ironing board wider…my husband is 6’4″ and his shirts are bigger than my board…so thank you so much for making this tutorial…I can do this….love it….