Out with the old, in with the new
I might be hard on ironing boards.
It became apparent recently that my old and trusty Shirtmaster had to be retired.
I bought it 15 or 20 years ago from a woman named Ellen who had a business in Colorado. Ellen had provided ironing boards for the classrooms during QuiltNebraska (the annual meeting of Nebraska State Quilt Guild). When the event ended, they were for sale at a discount.
I jumped at the chance. They were pricey for my budget, and the discount made it possible. While it might not look like a great ironing board for a quilter, it was a huge improvement over a regular ironing board.
Traditional ironing boards have generally been made with clothing in mind—not quilts. They are narrow even at the wide end, and many designs are notoriously unstable. They’re a pain. So to have a Shirtmaster was a big step forward for me. I used that thing to death.
Fast forward to 2021.
I wore a hole in the wide end in the first few years. Then I wore a hole in the new cover. Then I threw a bath towel over it. All pretty decent coping strategies.
But lately the board had felt lumpy under my iron. And then it felt more lumpy. I had to face it—time for a change.
But first I wanted to see what was going on under there. Why was it so lumpy? I removed the cover which I’d stapled to within an inch of its life.
Call me crazy but who decided to use particle board for an item that would constantly be damp? The whole thing was a total mess.
There were bits of particle board in piles all over the place. These were the lumps!
I vacuumed up the whole shebang and carried it to the trash. It had served me well even if the materials were ill-conceived. Onward.
I did some research into what else was available. My friend LeeAnn bought industrial shelving on casters and made an ironing surface on the top from a board, batting and canvas. Quite a brilliant idea.
Its shape is perfect for a quilter and you can adjust the height so it’s comfortable. She says one of the best things is all the storage you get as a bonus! (She removed the ironing surface for the photo above.) Pretty economical, too.
This is a great system,
but I wasn’t up for figuring out the board and covering it. Those kind of tasks can take months around here. For me it was a slight drawback that you can’t take it down, although you can wheel it out of the way.
In the end I decided on the complete Big Board with its own wooden folding legs. You may remember that the first Big Boards were designed to sit atop a regular ironing board. I needed a complete system and this was my answer.
It is absolutely stable. It’s heavy enough to be solid, but not so heavy that I can’t maneuver it. It can be set at 30″ for sitting or 36″ for standing. It comes with batting which goes under an elasiticized cover, also included.
The 22″ x 59″ rectangular surface is perfect for a quilter. So far I am really happy with it! And no particle board. This thing is real wood and rock solid.
The instructions do say to take the cover off when not in use so that it is never damp.
I might put another layer of batting under the cover in an effort to keep the wood dry(er). Or there is this option:
You can buy a wool pressing mat that fits perfectly on the Big Board. That might go on my Christmas list.
The Folding Big Board isn’t cheap. But I think it will be worth the money and I’m excited to put it to work.
Does it make me old, or weird, or worse,
if an ironing board excites me?
I’ll be back for another product review when I wear this one out!
I’m not affiliated with Big Board Enterprises and I don’t get a commission of any kind. The folding wooden legs for my Big Board are from Tracey’s Tables. Ask for info at your local quilt store.
Tags: big board, equipment, ironing, ironing board, supplies
Your Big Board will serve you well. Be careful washing the cover and do not put it in the dryer. It will shrink and you’ll never get it on the board again. Ask me how I know.
Good advice. Thank you!
Iron boards you got love them .I however have my mother’s board from the 50s. I started ironing when I was 8 yrs old . (I’m 67 now).When she passed I took it home with me. I didn’t use much ,when I was a young mother until. I started Quilting. Probly 40 yrs later ,Istrip it down repainted an have made several new pads .it’s my reliable thing . It tilts once in a while but you just have to know your limits. I wouldn’t know what to do without her.
My ironing board is all metal. Oops
For my 65th birthday, I bought myself a new iron and ironing board. I bought its predecessor when I was about 25. I’m working on the third iron since, and the board isn’t as substantial as the one I replaced (it is now piled about 2′ deep, end to end, with quilting ‘stuff’. I can’t remember the last time I folded up my ironing board, so the industrial shelving does have its appeal (and I have others like it). And the woolly pad looks lovely, but it must be a down payment on a house!
Maybe a layer of insulbrite might help with the dampness, or not. But I can see why the particle board failed.
Glad I’m not the only one with piles of quilt stuff everywhere!
My husband made me a big board to iron on that fit over my existing ironing board, which is still going strong after 35 years of marriage! I put a layer of foil between the plywood and the bedding to keep moisture from getting through. Occasionally it sounds a little crinkly, but I think it’s working.
Oh my word, Sarah, that is a GREAT idea! Foil coming right up.
Barb J Hinrichs
I don’t think you are old, weird, or anything else, but that’s what friends are for.
LOL true that!
Diane B Paul
I have had a big board for years and I love it. I used to put in on top of an adjustable ironing board and was able to store it in a closet when I wasn’t using it. A few years ago, I found that picking it up and moving it was getting more and more difficult. I purchased some basket storage on a rack (similar to what your friend has) and it sits on top of that. The only downside is the covers wear out and they are expensive. I have thought about making my own but I’d rather spend time quilting. I recently bought a teflon one that fits and hopefully that will last longer.
I have had a Big Board for years. I love it and I bought the storage units from Tracy’s Tables for holding it up. In the beginning, I had the board on a 2 ft x 4 ft adjustable height banquet table that I had purchased at Sam’s Club (that particular model is no longer available at Sam’s). The table worked, but was wider than the Big Board, so there was some wasted space there. When I remodeled my sewing space, I went for the gusto and purchased the storage units. They work great and are on casters, so the unit can be moved and I like the height also. I have not used a regular ironing board in years!