Before we dive right in, I just want to warn you all that this is more than just a tutorial on how to create an ironing board cover utilizing the scraps in your sewing space. This is a look into perfectionism, enjoying the process, and rolling with the punches.
If you came here looking for a perfect DIY, I am sorry, but this is the wrong tutorial for you. Throughout this process, I made a LOT of mistakes. My seams aren't perfect; I forgot to cut out pieces; I tore through elastic and my safety pin gave me loads of trouble. But you know what?
I walked away with a killer ironing board cover... and its functional!
Plus, très attachant, if I do say so myself.
Alrighty! Now that we have that little disclaimer out of the way, are you excited to see my very intriguing journey through creating my ironing board cover?
Last year, my old ironing board cover just up and died. I managed to cut holes through the center of it and it was just a tattered mess. Instead of tossing the cover and replacing it with a brand new one, I decided to make one myself, using my old cover as a pattern template.
Things worked out really well and I loved how my new cover turned out! Even though it wasn't perfect, it made me happy every time I went to work in my studio.
Well, I happen to own TWO ironing boards. One stays upstairs in my studio room, and the other has been hanging out in our bedroom, just collecting all sorts of dust. For months I have been wanting to recover this ironing board, but I kept putting it off, primarily because I just didn't know what fabric I wanted to use.
I love the vintage yellow of the ironing board base and I hated the idea of hiding that vibrant color under something not-as-happy. But then, as I was digging through my scrap fabrics, I found two awesome yellow prints that made me smile- this was what I had been subconsciously looking for!
The lemons used to be bench cushions in our dining room, but I recently recovered those, and the stripes were a left over fabric from recovering our couch two years ago. Together, they made the perfect pairing.
I went ahead and pieced these two fabric together in an appealing pattern, with the lemons all down the center and the stripes radiating from the sides.
If I had been smart, I would have measured the length and width (L x W) of my ironing board to determine how wide & long to make the pieced together fabric, but I didn't. Instead I just eyeballed it and pieced together the fabrics until I had a rectangle that looked a lot larger than my ironing board.
Next, I grabbed ALL the scrap wool I had been hoarding. Most of these pieces were much too small to make anything with, but I knew if I saved them, they might come in handy for creating "heat resistant" items, like the oven mitts I pieces together last year.
Again, I sewed all of my wool pieces together until I had a rectangle about the same size as my lemon/ stripe fabric. I also eyeballed this- apparently I was not in to measuring things while creating this piece.
Then came time to lay out my ironing board and cut out the "pattern" for it's new cover. I started by laying my lemon stripes down on a large area of empty flooring, with the wrong side facing me.
Then I laid my pieced together wool sheet on top of that piece.
Lastly, I centered my ironing board over both of these pieces. As you can see, I the wool piece didn't *quite* reach the full length of the ironing board- whoops! I'll fix that in a bit.
Once I had my ironing board in the proper place, I had to trace along the outline to obtain the right shaped pattern piece. But I knew I didn't want to trace the ironing board exactly. Especially considering there was about a 2" lip along the edges of the ironing board, plus I needed seam allowance left over to sew an elastic channel that would help the cover actually fit snugly to the board.
But instead of doing the math (I don;t know what was up with me and rulers the day I did this!) I used my hand as a guide. I put four fingers along the edge of the ironing board and then marked that spot with some tailors chalk.
To me, that seemed like plenty of extra fabric for all that I required.
I then got to work pinning the two layers of fabrics together so that they wouldn't shift while I was cutting.
Once all the layers had been pinned, I followed my tailor's chalk marks and cut around the outline I had created.
But then there was the small matter of the ironing board cover's nose. It was missing the wool layer, and I knew that I would regret not attaching a wool layer to this part of the cover considering it's where I do most of my ironing.
So, I grabbed some of the wool scraps I had just cut off and I pinned it to he wool layer and trimmed it to match the lemon stripe layer.
Now that all the cutting and "measuring" was complete, it was time to head back to the sewing machine.
I started by attaching that little wool nose piece to the wool layer of my ironing board cover.
Then I went ahead and attached the wool layer to the lemon stripe layer using a simple zig-zag stitch.
I decided to do a zig-zag stitch before a serged stitch because I wanted to ensure that my two layers didn't shift. I wanted to minimize any twisting or lumps that might have come with serging my edge first.
Once my two layers were firmly secured together, I cleaned up the edges by serging all around the cover.
This step was totally option and not 100% necessary. I had debated on outlining my entire cover with bias binding (like on my first ironing board cover) but opted to limit the amount of bulk since the wool I was using for this particular cover was much thicker than the original. This turned out to be a good thing? Maybe. After I serged my edges, things started getting interesting.
First of all, I decided to do a simple turned edge to create the channeling for my elastic. This decision wasn't an issue. What was an issue was actually two things:
- I didn't realize until I was nearly finished (and struggling with my elastic) that I had forgotten to cut out an additional nose piece for my cover. This piece would have allowed the ironing board cover to sit snuggly against the ironing board without all the bulk associated with the wool layer. Which brings me to...
- The wool layer around the edges was SO THICK. It made sewing through it at times really difficult. In hindsight, I should have placed the thinner wool pieces along the outer edges and the thicker wool pieces along the center line of my wool layer. Ah well- C'est la vie.
This part happened to be a thinner piece of wool, so sewing it was a breeze!
I folded my seam over 5/8" (1.6 cm) to create my elastic channel. I did contemplate sewing my elastic directly to my ironing board cover, but the cover was so thick that when I tried a test piece, it didn't really bunch the way it was supposed to, so I figured the channel would be a better solution. That way I could control how tight/ loose the stretch of the elastic would be.
I made sure to leave an opening to thread my elastic through the channel near the top edge of my ironing board cover.
Alright, Are ya'll ready to hear some more of my silly mistakes with this project?
I wasn't able to find my box of safety pins in the mess in my studio, so I wound up using a relatively small safety pin to thread my 1/4" (0.6 cm) wide elastic through the channeling.
I actually did manage to find a *slightly* larger safety pin for the actual threading, but it didn't help much.
I then went on to tackle threading the elastic through the channeling and Oh. My. Gosh. Was that the longest process I ever did partake in!
It took me forever to thread my elastic all the way around my ironing board cover. At one point, I pulled my elastic WAY too hard (without realizing) and it snapped in half! I had to go find where it had snapped and re-thread large chunks of the cover. and it certainly didn't help that at some parts along the channeling, the wool layer was so thick I could hardly pass my safety pin along.
Who knew threading elastic could be such an adventure!
Eventually, I did manage to get my elastic all the way around the ironing board cover and I was able to sew it all up and it didn't look terrible.
Then came the last part of this epic tale: Putting the cover on the actual ironing board.
I laid the cover on my floor and then the ironing board on top of it. I slipped all the elasticated sides around the ironing board only to discover that it wasn't the most snug of fits- Yikes!
This is where my problem solving kicked itself into high gear. I grabbed some strips of my elastic and started pinning them any place where the cover was pulling away from the ironing board.
I had to also do this on my last ironing board cover, but not nearly to this degree. The areas that needed the most love and attention were near the bottom edge of the ironing board and the nose (of course, considering I missed sewing that entire extra nose piece!)
An intriguing solution, eh?
Once all of the problem areas were pinned with elastic (some in the form of ties, some not) all I needed to do was tack those little bits and bobs down.
Even with ALL of these little issues and imperfections and "what was I doing?" questions, I ended up with a really beautiful ironing board.
I am super happy with what I created, regardless of how pristine it might be. Because, in 20 years time, will I look at this ironing board cover and feel shame for not having completed it perfectly? Or will I look at this ironing board cover and feel joy for having created it at all.
I plan to always feel happy when looking at this ironing board because I made it with my own two hands. I problem solved and created a functional product from nothing but scraps. I laughed along the way at my little mistakes and my disdain for using a tape measure for the day. I'll smile at the color and the happy lemons that dance along the the length of this board. And I'll feel grateful for finally being able to iron my clothing in a convenient and inspiring area of my bedroom, most likely while I watch the rain outside. Isn't that such a lovely thought?