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How to make a pressing board

I want to cover plywood with cotton batting and muslin to make a large pressing board that I can use a very hot iron on.

What type of cotton batting should I use - with or without scrim and what other factors should I be aware of?

How many layers of batting should I use and should I wash the batting and put it in the dryer first since I will sometimes use steam on my pressing board?

Can you recommend a brand of batting?

Thanks for your help.



The video instructions that I used to make my own pressing boards -- TOTALLY LOVE! a hard pressing surface--are shown further down on this page.

To address your specific questions...

I strongly suggest that you use a 100% cotton duck (you can find it at a store like Joann's). I like how it grips the patches so much better than muslin. The surface of the duck is more 'grippy' due to the larger size of the threads that make it. I did pre-wash mine to shrink it first, particularly because I use a lot of steam in my pressing and I didn't know how much it might shrink. Do pull it out of the dryer BEFORE it's bone's a pain in the rear to iron when it gets wrinkled (ask me how I know!)

As for batting, I used the 100% cotton Warm and Natural, one layer. Remember, though, that this is YOUR work surface, if you find that you like one a bit softer...then add another layer of batting.

Yes, it does have a poly scrim but I haven't found that to be a problem.

The packaging suggests a 3% shrinkage rate when washed after the quilt is quilted. (In fact, The Warm Company discourages prewashing their Warm & Natural batting before it is put into a quilt.) I haven't noticed any problems. In the method shown in the video below, notice how the batting isn't stapled...the duck holds everything in place.

As for the spray adhesive...didn't use it...don't keep it on hand and don't particularly care for the product. I found that the wood and the duck helped control the batting while I stapled.

And now here's the video to show you how it's made:

For a more portable (read 'lighter weight') pressing board, one of my girlfriend's used a piece of the foil covered insulation...cut to about 4 foot by 18-20". She takes this to all of our bee treats. It is set on the counter and makes a nice surface to work on. Again...foil covered.

The really nice thing about making your own pressing boards is that you can make them sized to fit what you need...particularly one wide enough to press full width's of fabric.

I use a lot of starch in my my opinion the end result is more accurate with less effort. But starch really yucks up that top layer of cotton fabric. When it gets too gross, I have stapled one additional layer of new cotton duck over the first one if I don't want to take the time to remove it. I usually (if it's handy) put an extra layer of muslin over the top when I'm starching, too.

Thank you for your question.

More 'pressing matters'...

These articles may also be of interest to you.
Readers, how and what do you use if you make your own pressing boards? Just the 'comments' link below to share your ideas! Thank you!


Julie Baird

Comments for How to make a pressing board

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Ironing with foil
by: Jen Russo

Has anyone tried making one with foil inside the layers?

Some people use foil inside their ironing boards to increase heat. Wondering if this is recommended?

From the Editor:

Hi Jen. While I can't answer your question with any experience behind it, I have found a terrific new pressing mat that is the bee's knees. I love it so much that I bought two.

You can read my review here.

Maybe some of my readers have read of this idea and can share their experience.


Julie Baird

how to make pressing board
by: Kathy

I used sound board with batting and canvas duck fabric on mine.

Sound board is less expensive than plywood and probably 75% less weight! Its about 3/4" you can staple the batting and fabric on.

I did not prewash fabric instead I sprayed with water and ironed dry when done. Result very tight smooth cover!

Made some for my quilt group 3 years ago and are holding up great. We glued some non-slide carpet underpad to the back to prevent any slipping on the counter or surface you set it on.

From the Editor: Excellent ideas! Thank you for sharing. (Especially like that underpad to prevent sliding!)

~ Julie

Making a pressing Board
by: Anonymous

This is exactly what I needed. I especially liked the Costco table idea for a larger pressing area

Thank you so much!!!

My quilt ironing board
by: Anonymous

I used an old wool blanket for the batting and the cotton duck to cover it. I learned that from a garment sewer and started using it for garment sewing first and then for my quilting.

From the Editor: I totally agree with that. Wool is a great alternative for batting if you have it.

Thanks for sharing,


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