Thursday, May 06, 2010

How-To Sew A Cute Ironing Board Cover

I love laundry--especially ironing (sick, I know, but really it's the only housework I do like).  It helps that my ironing board has a fun cover.  The covers are simple to make!

Step One: Measure the length and width of your current ironing board cover or the length and wide of your ironing board and add 4" to each measurement.  The cover I'm replacing measures 20" wide by 60" long, which means my board is 16" by 56".

Step Two: Find a fabric that makes you smile every time you look at it.
  • It will have to be 100% cotton though, because only cotton will stand up to the higher heats. A polyester-blend will melt when your hot iron touches it.  Yikes!
  • The fabric should have a design with no obvious up or down.  Geometrics, paisleys and florals usually are fine.  I love this material for example, but if I used it the chickens would look like this every time I ironed:
  • The exception to this rule would be if your ironing board cover is less than 44" long--which means you could buy virtually any fabric you like since almost every fabric (except some 36" wovens) will be at least 44/45" wide.  Or if your cover length is less than the 54" of many decorating fabrics.  I've always had a nice big ironing board, but I know some are smaller.  If so, you may be in luck.
  • For the rest of us, you'll have to buy a length of 44/45" or 54" wide fabric. 60 inches is 5 feet, but I bought a full 2 yards (6 feet) because a) fabric shrinks and b)I'll need a seam allowance
Step Three:  Preshrink your fabric in hot water for 20 minutes.
  • DO NOT skip this step because you're eager to start!  I've seen cheapo fabric barely shrink and expensive quilting material lose over 3".  Material is unpredictable like that.  
  • You might also find that your fabric color bleeds in hot water.  If so, rinse it again and again in hot water until the water is clear.  Otherwise you'll be ironing your favorite white blouse someday, only to find some reddish stains on it (yep, red is the big offender--I recently had a holiday red fabric turned the top water into faux grape juice four times before it ran clear).
  • Don't agitate it in the wash cycle or you'll have lots of nasty little threads hanging off.
  • Just spin or wring it out and pop it into the dryer briefly.  I take mine out when it's just slightly damp.
  • Get out your iron and press the fabric until it's smooth.  Seems funny to have to iron your fabric when it's whole purpose in life is to take up permanent residence on an ironing board, doesn't it!
Step Four:  Remove your old ironing board cover.
  • You'll probably just be untying the gathering string that's holding your cover on.  
  • While you're removing it, pay attention because you'll have to know how to put it back on later! For instance, my board also has a little grabby springy thing with claws near the "nose" as well as the string and I needed to know where to reattach the claws.
  • Leave on any padding.  A nice cushy surface makes for better ironing.  Mine has several vintage layers.
Step Six:  Use your old cover as a pattern.
  • Smooth it out so it lays as flat as possible.
  • Pin it in place on on your fabric WRONG SIDE UP.  That way you'll be reminded to leave extra room for your seam allowances when you cut out your new cover.
Step Seven:  Cut your fabric.   You'll have one long piece the shape of your board and one little rounded triangular piece that will be the nose facing.  Make sure to read this whole section BEFORE you cut.
  • Remember to add about 1" to the length and width if you're serging the edges or 1-1/2" to 2" if you're turning under a hem.  That will provide enough for the casing and seam allowance.
  • It's okay to use the selvedge--it'll disappear when you sew the casing.
  • Whoever said "measure twice, cut once" undoubtedly learned the hard way. 
  • When in doubt, it's safer to cut a bit more than you think you'll need.  You'll be gathering it up anyway on the underside of the ironing board where no one will ever notice it.

  • In the photo below, see that nice big triangular corner left behind after I cut out my big piece?

      I rotated the nose piece in there, making sure I had my seam allowance, like so:
      and had plenty of fabric to cut my smaller piece. 
    Step Eight:  Serge all your edges if you are fortunate enough to own a serger.  I love mine!

    • See below...I used the selvedge and left it unserged. I'm nothing if not economical when sewing!
    Step Nine:  Sewing the main piece to the nose.

    • First sew a casing on the straight edge of the nose piece.  If you've serged it, just turn 1/2" and sew.  If you haven't serged it, turn under 1/4" to hide the raw edge and then another 1/2" and sew.
    • Sew the two pieces together along the arch.  Do NOT sew into the casing.
    • Yeah, that'll leave an unsewn area--that's what you'll need or you won't be able to thread the string later on.
    Step Ten:   Preparing the casing.

    • Turn under 1/2" all around the main piece (if it isn't serged, turn under 1/4" then roll another 1/2" for the casing).
    • Pin the curves before sewing.  They'll be puckery, but that's okay as they'll be gathered later.
    • Seriously, look at my completely pathetic sewing here:

      I knew it didn't matter if I had puckers or if I was too lazy to switch the serger to black thread instead of white so I didn't stress. I even used white thread to sew the casing!  The moral:  It's not brain surgery.
    • Your casing will be sort of odd near the nose. It won't line up and is quite wonky.  It's okay. As you can see, the string exits and enters the casing which means it gets gathered and looks just fine eventually.  Try not to let it bug you at this point.
    Step One Hundred Fifty Million Eleven:  Sewing the casing.

    • Starting in the middle of one long side, begin sewing the casing.  
    • Remember the corners pucker and it's okay.
    • Make sure you don't accidentally sew the casing closed near the nose.  If you do, just use your seam ripper so you can get the string through later. (I wonder how I know about that.  Whoops.)
    • You'll end near the nose and have to start again on the other side.
    • Leave 1/2" of the casing open and unsewn when you reach your starting point again. You'll use that opening to insert your gathering string.

    Step Twelve (almost finished):  Threading the Casing.

    • You can use string, yarn, cording, skinny elastic--anything that will fit through the1/2" casing.
    • You'll need about 3-1/2 to 4 yards of cord and a safety pin or bodkin.
    • Tie the cord to the pin/bodkin.
    • Start feeding it through the opening you left on one long side.  
    • It skips out and back in on both sides of the nose.
    • Thread through the entire circumference of the cover and bring it out through the opening.  You'll have lots of gathers--pull them out so you have a relatively flat cover again.
    • Remove the safety pin or bodkin.
    Step Thirteen:  Putting the cover on the ironing board.

    • First, slip the nose over the front of the ironing board.
    • Then smooth the cover over the entire board.
    • Holding both ends so you don't accidentally lose one inside the casing, pull the string/cord/yard tightly until the cover molds itself to your ironing board and tie the ends together.
    • Reattach the spring thingie with claws if you have one.
    Step Fourteen:  Smooth the top.

    Step back and admire. You're done!

    The whole process sounds a lot longer and harder than it actually is. I tried to trouble-shoot every possible glitch for you in this tutorial which is probably why it took me about five times as long to write it as it did to actually sew my new ironing board cover! Ack! I've gained new respect for everyone out there in Blogland who posts tutorials and how-tos!

    Welcome to all my Funky Junk-lovin' friends! Donna's the best, isn't she?!
  • 1 comment:

    1. Thanks for posting the winderful tutorial. I really need a new cover and I'm now inspired to make my own! Would love to have you stop by The Sunday Showcase Party if you get a chance. Hope you are enjoying your weekend! I really like this simple design! ~ Stephanie Lynn