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Choosing an Ironing Board

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Click to Read MoreChoose an adjustable height board with a padded cover and a cotton or muslin cover. Avoid the outer-space-suit reflective covers

I like having two ironing boards, a full size board and a tabletop model. For small jobs, the smaller board is quick to set up on my cutting table.

Ironing Board Features: What to Look For

There are both portable and built-in ironing boards. Built-ins are great if you are fortunate enough to have a sewing room with a built-in. Otherwise, most built-in ironing boards are located in the laundry room making it too impractical to run back and forth to press each seam.

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Full-Size Ironing Boards

Ironing boards, like most products, have features that either make it or break it for you depending on personal preferences.

  • Size: An average full-size ironing board is 54 inches long and 15 inches wide. Professional ironing boards are usually 63 inches long and 19 inches wide. If you have space, wider is better.
  • Frame: A lightweight board is easier to set up and take down, but should have a sturdy stable frame. A lightweight board with a flimsy frame is too easy to knock over.
  • Height: For sewing, most people use their board standing up. That means you'll want a board that raises to at least hip level, preferably a bit higher.
  • Adjustability: Most boards are adjustable. The flexibility lets others in your household adjust to fit their height, and you can adjust it down for use while seated.
  • Vent Holes: Again, most boards come equipped with vent holes, but check to be sure. Vent holes are a necessity for steam to escape.
  • Iron rest: A built-in at the wide end of the board for setting your iron. They give you more board space, and your iron is less likely to fall over when placed in the rest. Iron rests are not included with all boards, so if it's a feature you like, you'll need to choose a board that comes with one.

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Tabletop Boards

These handy little tabletop boards are very inexpensive. I bought one several years ago for about $17, and you can still get one for that at Amazon for about the same price.

The tabletops vary in size, but mine is 32 x 12 inches with a retractable iron rest. The 6-inch legs easily fold up and lock in place. It came with a 100-percent cotton cover.

Ironing Board Covers

If you're buying a new ironing board, you find that most come with a cover and pad. You can buy replacement pads and covers or even make your own cover. Personally, I dislike reflective covers -- they get hot, don't breathe and crinkle and crack. Bold patterns can interfere with your ability to clearly see what you're doing on more sheer fabrics. Best are simple plain cotton or muslin covers... although a small strip can act as a useful straight edge.


Comments (8)

Samuel said:
Samuel's picture

I have found that the covers often come with different thickness of padding. What is your recommedation.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Samuel - we generally prefer a thicker padding.

Dee-45150 said:
Dee-45150's picture

My Mom has an ironing board that she has used for years to press sleeves and pant legs when she is repairing or shortenin them.  It's actually a double board.  One arm measures 21 x 5 and the second arm measures 27 x 7-1/2.  I would like to obtain new covers for her pressing board, and get one for myself with these dimensions.  I've looked at fabric stores like Hancocks and Joann , Bed Bath & Beyond, and department stores like Target and Walmarts.  Is there a web-warehouse where these might be purchased?   Any direction on the web you can give me, would be greatly appreciated.  THANKS for your help!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Dee-45150 - I remember exactly the type of board you are talking about. You are doing exactly what I would do - searching locally and on line. If your continued searching comes up with no options, you could make her one. Below is a link to our ironing board cover. You could adapt it to fit your dimensions, you'd also have to adapt a padded under-cover for both sizes, but I bet you could find both standard pads and mini ironing board pads you could adapt to fit. 


Lynn L. said:
Lynn L.'s picture

I have an ironing board like full sized one in article. It rocks or moves when I iron. Any suggestions?  Thank you.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Lynn L. - hard to say long-distance, but it sounds like it simply isn't setting flat on the floor. If it's a lightweight board, if it isn't sitting flat and level, it can definitely rock. See if there's something uneven underneath the base. You can try to slip a wedge under it at the "rocking point" if you can figure out where it is... kind of like when you go to a restaurant and a small table rocks. I slip a folded napkin under the high part to level things out. 

Stella said:
Stella's picture

I have Roy Rogers and Dale Evans on my board as my fabric cover.Gotta stay on the HAPPY TRAILS.