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Easy Ironing Board Cover

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Did you know the modern ironing board was invented and patented by African American former slave, Sarah Boone in 1892? It's true. Although hers was not the first ironing board on the scene, it was completely unique in its narrow, contoured design, which allowed sleeves to be drawn up over the board. We'd like to think Ms. Boone would be pleased with our cheery ironing board cover. Just about all sewing projects require a fair amount of time spent staring at your ironing board. Why force yourself to look at those gawd-awful striped covers they sell at the local Target®... I swear those things must have been designed by someone with his eyes closed and both hands tied behind his back! You deserve a pretty cover.

Bear in mind a cover is meant to do just that... cover up a worn-out ironing board pad. You can't put it right over the metal of the ironing board. You still need the padding and the heat resistant fabric of an actual pad.

Our design is clean and energizing; you'll want to pick a motif and colors subtle enough to provide a neutral background for all your ironing tasks.

Our original cover was made in Moda's Half Moon Modern. This collection is still available, but has been streamlined to include mostly chevron and dot designs. Luckily, sewing themed fabrics are always in fashion. We found two shops where sewing theme fabric is a category, so it's easy to see a great selection of fun fabric that would work well.

Visit Hawthorne Threads for the swatches below and many, many more.

Check out Fashionable Fabrics for another great selection of sewing themed fabric. We show just a few below:

If you're having fun with this project, check out our Index page for more Sewing Room ideas, including a great Thread Catcher/Notions Caddy, our three-panel Jazzy Ironing Board Cover, and the cute Sewing and Craft Half Apron

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • 1⅔ yards of 44-45" wide fabric for the main body of the cover: we used Half Moon Modern by Moda Fabrics in Ovals Aqua
    NOTE: You could probably get about with 1½ yards, but sometimes a fabric's print is not 100% straight; having a bit of extra fabric will allow you to shift the pattern around on the fabric to get the straightest cut.
  • ¼ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for the end accent strip: we used Half Moon Modern by Moda Fabrics in Scissors Red
  • 5 yards of ½" ribbon to gather the bottom edge: we used a simple turquoise grosgrain
  • Thin muslin or lightweight, semi transparent paper to create a pattern from your ironing board
  • All purpose thread to match fabrics
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Two large safety pins
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. First, measure the depth of the ironing board lip. Ours was 1-5/16" deep. Write down your measurement.
  2. Next, make a flat pattern of the TOP of your ironing board. The easiest way to do this is to remove your old pad so you are working with the plain metal top of the ironing board. Lay the ironing board upside down onto a thin piece of fabric or a lightweight paper. You want something you can see through so later you can easily fussy cut your final fabric. Trace around outer edge of ironing board.
  3. Cut out the shape along the traced line. Your pattern should be actual size and will look something like this:
    Diagram
  4. Now you need to figure out how much to add to your pattern in order to allow it to wrap around and under the ironing board, as well as to have enough width for a casing for the ribbon.
  5. Start with the depth of your ironing board's lip (remember, ours was 1- 5/16" deep), add 1½ to make a casing, plus another 2½" to allow the cover to wrap under the board and give you a nice snug fit across the top. In our sample, these three figures add up to 5¼". We rounded up to 5½" just to be safe.
  6. You need to add this 5½" all the way around the outside edge of the traced pattern.  
  7. We find it's best to work from the right side of the fabric to make sure you are keeping everything nice and straight. Place the main fabric flat on your work surface. Place the pattern on your main fabric. Adjust as needed so it lines up with any directional motifs on your fabric. This is particularly important if you used any kind of stripe, as we did with our Half Moon Modern Ovals Aqua .
  8. Measure and mark 5½" in small segments all around the perimeter of the patten piece, making little dots as you go.
    Click to Enlarge
  9. When you're done, connect all those little dots to give yourself a solid cutting line to follow. But wait; we're not cutting it out quite yet. 
    Click to Enlarge

Accent stripe

  1. Our accent stripe in the Half Moon Modern Scissors Red needed to be fussy cut so one full row of scissors would show along the ironing board's end. We measured the width of one row of scissors; it was 1½". We drew a straight line across the end of the paper pattern at 1½" from the paper's edge. Use this same technique to determine the width for your fabric's motif. You can adjust the size of your accent stripe to best fit your fabric selection. 
  2. Slide the bottom raw edge of the accent fabric into place, right side up on top of the main fabric (which is also still right side up). The raw edge of the fabric should be ½" beyond the drawn line on the paper pattern (that's for your seam allowance). Pin the paper pattern in place.
  3. Using the same method as you did for the main body of the cover, measure and mark 5½" around just the end of the pattern onto the accent fabric. Connect the dots to create the curve of the accent fabric. Cut along this drawn line.
    Click to Enlarge
  4. Lift up the paper pattern and place the edge of the see-through ruler exactly flush with the raw edge of the accent fabric's straight edge. Hold on to the ruler and slide out the accent fabric from underneath, leaving just the ruler on top of the main fabric. Measure and mark ½" beyond the ruler's edge to the left (toward what will be the square end of the ironing board cover). Draw a horizontal line. This is the cut line for the main fabric; which adds the ½" for the seam allowance needed for the horizontal seam that attaches the main fabric to the accent strip.
  5. Cut out the rest of the main fabric shape along the drawn line.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Pin the accent panel right sides together with the main panel along the long straight end. 
    Click to Enlarge
  2. Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance. Press the seam allowance towards the accent stripe.
  3. Flip the accent piece into place so it is right side up.
  4. Thread your machine with thread to match the accent strip.
  5. Topstitch approximately ¼" from the seam within the accent strip.
    NOTE: We like to increase stitch length (we went from 2.4 to 3.0) for topstitching. It looks a little nicer to have the longer stitch length, and since the topstitching isn't holding anything together (it just looks pretty and helps the seam allowance stay flat), you don't need a super tight stitch length.
    Click to Enlarge

Casing

  1. Finish the entire perimeter of the ironing board cover with a serger or a finishing stitch on your sewing machine. We used a serger. For more on machine finishing, we have a four-part tutorial, which starts with Most Popular Machine Sewn Finishes.
  2. Turn the outside edge under ½" all the way around and press.
    Click to Enlarge
  3. Turn under another 1" all the way around and press again.
    Click to Enlarge
  4. As you fold around the gentle side curves and the top rounded point, you'll need to ease the fabric to create a proper curve, which means your fabric casing will have tiny folds in it as it makes the turns. This is what it is supposed to do. Press well and pin well to keep these small folds in place.
    Click to Enlarge
  5. Leave a 2" opening un-pinned at the center of the square end - the flat end of the accent strip.
  6. Stitch all the way around, approximately ¼" from the inside folded edge to create the casing. Remember to lock your seam at either side of that 2" opening at the center square end.
    Click to Enlarge
    NOTE: As you can see in the photos above and below, we took the time to change out the thread color in our machine from the main fabric to the accent fabric. We started with aqua thread in the top and bobbin and stitched all around the main body of the cover, then switched to red in the top and bobbin to stitch around the accent stripe of the end, locking our stitch on either side of the 2" opening.
  7. Press well all around.
  8. Place a large safety pin on one end of your ribbon or cording. Feed this end through the casing.
    Click to Enlarge
    NOTE: It's a good idea to put another large safety pin on the opposite end of the ribbon and pin it to the main body of the fabric so you don't accidentally pull it through.
  9. Push the safety pin through the casing, gathering as you go.
  10. Once you've fed the ribbon/cording all the way through and out the opposite end, adjust the gathers to fit the cover onto your ironing board. Pull the ends of the ribbon to draw the cover taut, and tie a simple knot or bow.
    NOTE: We recommend leaving the large safety pins on the ends of the ribbon until you are all done with all your adjustments and have tied your final knot or bow. It's a real pain to have the ribbon disappear into this very long casing; wiggling it out again will take awhile.
  11. You can finish the ends of your ribbon with a tiny hem or simply cut the ends and apply a seam sealant.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild

Section: 

Comments (8)

BeckyLeeSews said:
BeckyLeeSews's picture

This is so timely!  I purchased one of those wider ironing boards but the cover is so blah - plain tan muslin looking stuff.  I have some very pretty home dec fabric that I bought and it's sitting in a pile under the board on the included shelf.  I just wasn't sure how to go about doing this.  Also, the padding that came with the board is pitiful so I'll be adding some leftover quit batting under the stuff that came with the board.  Can't wait to get started!

Kat Garvey said:
Kat Garvey's picture

Wekebu

Tradional people used mattress pads, but those were cotton, nowadays mattress pads are polyester. Not good. Use a couple of layers of cotton batting. Make sure it is 100% cotton and not a cotton-poly blend. and NOT "iron on" or heat basted.  I have seen that reccomended on quilting sites.

Kat

Kat Garvey said:
Kat Garvey's picture

Thanks for this! I need a new cover for my table top board. This project is at the top of my to do list.

Celaine said:
Celaine's picture

Instead of ribbon etc. to gather the ironing board cover around the board I use 3/8" elastic.  It makes for a real tight fit!

banjo2251 said:
banjo2251's picture

Oh my goodness I love this! Am going to make it this weekend in the same fabric as my peg bag and plastic bag-bag!  Thank you

wekebu said:
wekebu's picture

How about what batting to use? My ironing board is wire mesh, like the one in the photo. When I iron, it transfers that pattern onto my fabric.

Ellie Quilter said:
Ellie Quilter's picture

When I had my shop up north, we used Quilter's Dream Deluxe weight cotton batting for the padding inour Ironing Board Cover Classes. It worked like a dream - no pun intended! 

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

@ wekebu - as we mention above, this project is just the cover not the insulating pad. A cover is meant to do just that... cover up a worn-out ironing board pad. You can't put it right over the metal of the ironing board. You still need the padding and the heat resistant fabric of an actual pad. We would recommend either covering up your old pad or buying a new pad and putting this spiffy new cover over it. 

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