Is it all it's cracked up to be?
This Magic Pressing Mat has been filling up in my Facebook newsfeed like crazy.
So I shot the lock off my wallet and bought two (one of each size) from Amazon.
Here's what you need to know.
Can't stand the suspense?
Then just click here to read my recommendation and see if it gets my thumbs up.
Otherwise, let's start from the beginning.
This product is a thick piece of what the packaging calls 'natural fibers' or 'natural wool fibers'—rather like a thick piece of felted wool (more on that later).
The mat shown here is the 12" x 18" version that I purchased from Amazon for this review. (I don't take free product in exchange for reviews...just doesn't seem right to me.)
UPDATE: There's now a new, smaller size—9" x 12"—called the Mini Pressing Mat.
Online seems the best way to get one as I haven't found them on any of my quilt shop-hopping treks. At least not yet.
Some of my quilter friends ordered through a local quilt shop who was charging $55 for the smaller version.
Be mindful of the price you pay. I paid $38.48 for the smaller version through Amazon in August, 2017. Since that time, the it has gone up in price for all sizes. Remember to check the 'other sellers' on Amazon for the best price.
It is roughly 1/2" thick—a uniform thickness.
It's not hard or rigid. You can bend it.
It absorbs heat like a sponge.
There's a bit of give to it as you press your blocks so that your seams have something to sink into.
Simply take it out of the packaging. Place it on your ironing board. Start pressing.
Use steam. Or not.
The mat performs perfectly either way.
Besides flatter blocks, there are a couple of differences between pressing on this mat versus directly on your ironing board.
There's an aroma
To be honest, it made me rather nostalgic the first time I used it.
I was a garment maker before I was a quilter—could sew before I could cross the street by myself.
Loved tailoring to be exact—made all my suits for work back when suits had big shoulder pads. (Ah-h-h-h! Those were the days!)
The mat smells like warm or steamed wool as you press. It brought back so many good memories.
Now, I was curious.
Would this pleasing-to-me aroma bother non-tailors?
Luckily, my bee-mates were happy to share their thoughts after using it at a recent 5-day Bee-Treat.
Some didn't notice the odor at all. Others noticed it only after I mentioned it. Some noticed right away but it didn't put them off.
A local store owner didn't care for the smell, but I believe she is regularly using the mat.
Aroma wasn't a deal breaker.
UPDATE: I've used the mats for over a year now. The wool smell is gone.
It does 'grab' your blocks and patches as you press—a really big help when you're pressing blocks into submission. You can line up an edge of your block with your fingers and give a bit of a tug as you pull it square while pressing.
It grabs just as well as the flannel fabric that I usually drape over my ironing board during pressing. Unlike the flannel, however, it doesn't shift while I'm working. Sweet!
And it grabs much better than the Cut n'Press boards I've used before.
And it's not that much more expensive.
It holds heat and steam like a brick oven
Unlike the flannel, the Magic Pressing Mat holds the heat and steam like crazy. This gives your pressing efforts an added boost.
The heat goes all the way through the fibers, too.
That's why I only use mine either at my ironing board or on a protected surface.
In this photo taken at a recent guild retreat, you can see all the condensation that forms underneath the mat as you use it.
For instance, I would NOT set it directly on my self-healing cutting mat. Heat is your rotary mat's enemy.
I don't want to have to replace my cutting mats unnecessarily. (Although I happily got a new, designer colored one in RED - click here to see it—Love! Love! Love!)
If I'd done A LOT of pressing and was turning things off for the night, I might be inclined to lift the mat off the ironing board so that air can circulate overnite to help dry it thoroughly.
If I find myself doing that with any regularity, I'll come back and report here.
I haven't and don't plan to spray starch my patches while they're on the Magic PressingMat.
This is because I don't know if I can wash out the starch.
Remember, the packaging calls it natural or wool, and it smells like wool during use.
If you're a starcher, you know that your ironing board covers need to be periodically replaced. The starch browns the cover over time as your iron, in effect, cooks it.
Since this is a pricey (in my humble opinion) tool, I'll do everything I can to extend it's life.
I'll continue to spray starch when my patches are on the flannel press cloth. A quick press. Then transfer those patches to my new mat.
Using with my favorite pressing technique
If you've toured this website, you've seen me talk about my 'secret' pressing technique.
It's that good.
However, it is dependent on your blocks cooling and drying—heavy emphasis on drying—before moving them.
With this product, it does an exceptional job of holding the heat.
It takes A LOT, LOT, LOT longer for your blocks to cool and dry.
I'm impatient. Really impatient.
To remedy the situation, simply move your blocks off onto your ironing board. Give them a final press there and then weight down.
Magic is right! Who would believe that something so simple makes such a big different. But it does.
Who would benefit from using a Magic Pressing Mat?
If you're a brand new quilter, there are so many other tools to buy. You can skip this for now. A good set of rulers and proper cutting tools are more important in the beginning.
If you're a sometimes quilter, again, you probably won't use it enough to justify the cost unless you have your full complement of quilting tools. Or your birthday or other gift-giving holiday is coming up and your peeps need ideas.
A sometimes quilter and garment-home dec-sewer, too? The Magic Pressing Mat can be used in these other sewing activities as well. You'll get double-duty.
If you're a regular quilter, or obsessed like me, and you have a full arsenal of tools and gadgets, then this magic mat is for YOU!
Definitely. Without a doubt!!!
It's that TERRIFIC!!!
What size to get?
The one I bought for this review is 12" x 18"—the mid-size version.
Seriously. I was a bit put-off by the price on the larger one.
However, after using it at the previously mentioned 5-day Bee-Treat, I purchased the 14"x 24" from Amazon. The name changes a bit to 'MEGA Pressing Mat'.
If you are a regular quilter, I suspect you'll appreciate the larger size, too.
As always, stay within your budget.
Is a Magic or MEGA Pressing Mat in your future?