I've been doing a lot of paper piecing and scrappy blocks lately, which requires a lot of ironing. The way my sewing space is situated, there isn't enough room to have the big ironing board next to my desk, so I have been having to get up and down to iron my blocks. This is okay when I'm doing just a little bit of piecing, but with paper piecing, that can mean getting up 12 or 15 times! My hip quickly let me know that this was not a situation that was going to last for long, so I started thinking of solutions, and what I ended up with is this:
Originally I was going to make just a mat that could be rolled up and put away when not in use, but I really just don't have the space on my sewing table, especially when I'm in the middle of something and there's fabric flying everywhere. I do have set of drawers that I thought I could just set a covered board on, but my ever practical husband pointed out that it might be slightly too heavy and could be knocked over. So, I looked on all over the internet to see if I could find just a mini ironing board; exactly the same as our big one, but I wanted about 1/4 of the size. Everything was about $50 or more, and didn't seem to exactly fit my needs. I just couldn't talk myself into it. But, I remembered these TV trays that my grandparents had when I was a kid:
And decided it was the perfect base for a folding mini ironing board that wouldn't cost me tons. It sits right at my side, is very sturdy even on carpet, and cost about $20 to make. I put together a little tutorial, in case you'd like to make your own (it's very easy, I swear!).
You will need:
-One wooden TV tray; I found mine at Target for about $9.
-A half yard of Insul-Bright, or similar heat reflecting fabric. It can be purchased by the yard at most large craft stores.
-A half yard of cotton fabric. I chose a light fabric and made sure that I pre washed; ironing can sometimes make colors bleed, so be wary of using something that might run. Cottons do well with the constant pressure of ironing - polyesters can sometimes smell a bit or shrink/warp. This isn't to say that you couldn't use poly, I'm just not sure how it would hold up.
-A half yard of batting. I used cotton, for the reasons above.
-Nail gun or nails and hammer. The nail gun is too hard for me to use on my own, so I also had a lovely assistant in the form of my husband :).
My TV tray came fully put together, which made it slightly more tricky to cover, so you could take yours apart if you wanted. I just moved the legs on mine back and forth.
Lay the Insul-Brite on your working surface (I used our bed, as it's the largest reachable surface in our house). Then lay the wooden tray top on top of it. You could be fancy and actually measure the top, then measure the batting, but I just marked a roughly 2 inch border around the tray top and cut it out. Make sure you're laying it out with the shiny side down; you want the shiny side to be facing the iron when you're using it.
With the tray top in the middle of the Insul-Bright, bring one side of the fabric over the bottom of the tray:
And staple or nail into place. Bring the opposite side over to the bottom of the tray top, making sure it's pulled tight:
Do the same on each end, making sure each corner is tucked and the Insul-Bright is pulled flat and tight:
It will look like this when you're done:
You can trim the fabric closer to the staples at this point, if you'd like. Now, a note on the next part - I tacked down the batting and the fabric together. You could certainly to this in two separate steps, but it would require more nails and be more bulky. It's really just about what's easier for you.
Lay the fabric down first, right side down, then lay the batting on top of it, with the wooden table on top of that:
Trim the batting (not the fabric!) so that it only overlaps the table by a little bit. I also trimmed the corners. I then folded the fabric that I was using before we stapled it, so that there wouldn't be any raw edges. While this is certainly not necessary, it did make it look a bit more neat.
Follow the same steps as with the Insul-Bright, stapling each side one at time, until all sides are tacked down:
The most important part of this process is making sure that you have the fabric tight; this is where having a helper comes in handy! After everything is stapled down, you're all done, and all that's left it to enjoy your brand new mini ironing station!
And when you're not using it, it just folds up flat!
Hope you find this fun and informative; as always, please let me know if you have any questions!