Custom Style

Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic

Build Your Own Ironing Table

It has been far too long since I’ve had a chance to sit down and blog! That doesn’t mean I haven’t been sewing – just more work sewing than fun sewing.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ve seen little bits of what I’ve been up to since I tend to update daily. And you don’t need an account to view what I post there.

At the beginning of January, I decided my sewing room needed a major cleaning/reorganizing. I spent a couple of weeks rearranging the furniture in my sewing room and adding a few new pieces. I think it will really be more efficient in the long run. (More on that to come in a later post.)

I got about 90% finished with the reorg and then I started getting back-to-back jobs and the last 10% has been taking the longest to finish.

But before I got work-busy, I did manage to build myself a new ironing table! Yes, table! No more wimpy ironing board for me! You might recall that I’ve been using the square end of my ironing board and ignoring the pointed end for years.

I’ve always loved the large tables set up in costume shops where I’ve worked (there are usually multiple irons sharing one large surface). It was high time I had my own personal table at home!

My new ironing table!

And because I know all of you who sew will want one for yourself, I took lots of photos so you can make one too. =)

I started with a NORDEN sideboard from IKEA:

NORDEN-sideboard-from-IKEAI’m not sure how long IKEA’s carried this, but I just noticed it recently. It was exactly the size/height I’ve been looking for to use as an ironing table base, and it is solid wood. Plus, it even had the bonus of drawers and shelves!

So for $149.00, I had the perfect table base and I didn’t have to engineer anything from scratch. (I still find it amusing that the least expensive large piece of furniture in my sewing room is the cutting table!)

The dimensions of the NORDEN sideboard are 47½” long x 16½” wide x 35⅜” tall. The height was perfect but the top surface was a little small. I needed something that wasn’t too big and would fit along the wall where I already had my ironing board without blocking the closet door.

First, I constructed the sideboard table exactly as the IKEA comic book instructed because I had come up with my own simple plan to make the surface bigger without having to alter the original design.

I wanted a surface area that was significantly larger than my ironing board, which measures 13½” wide x 53” long (to the narrow pointed end). I decided 60” long would be a decent size to fit my space while still being long enough to iron fabric yardage in one pass from selvage to selvage.

I also determined that 19” wide would not take up too much space in my room – I had to be careful not to make my sewing room feel crowded with the other furniture rearranging.

Norden sideboard assembled and placement determined in my sewing room.

Then, my husband and I went shopping to buy some supplies at the home improvement store:

  • 1 piece of 19” x 60” plywood ¾” thick (we bought a full 4’ x 8’ sheet but had the store cut it to size)
  • 2 square dowels 1” x 36” each
  • 10 flat headed Phillips machine screws size #6 – 32 x 2 in
  • 10 nuts to fit the #6 machine screws (ours came in packs with the screws)
  • 10 flat washers size #6

Plywood rectangle cut to finished size, two square dowels, and hardware.

We already had these but you will also need:

  • Drill
  • 1 wood drill-bit 5/32”
  • Measuring tape or yardstick
  • Staple gun & ½” staples
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Adjustable crescent wrench or socket wrench (to fit nuts)
  • Nail setter or a piece of flat metal you can hammer to completely set the staples
  • Any kind of (power or hand) saw that can cut 1’ square dowels
  • Gloves (recommended for handling the plywood)
  • Safety glasses/goggles

We cut each square dowel into 3 pieces measuring 3”, 14.5”, and 18.5”. The small 3” pieces were a good size to keep the dowels from blocking the drawers on the front of the sideboard. Exact size is not important as long as you are able to frame each corner of the existing tabletop with the dowels.

We turned the IKEA unit upside down, placed it on the plywood top, and marked it so the base would be centered on the plywood lengthwise. (Note: make sure you remove the adjustable shelf before turning table upside down!) We offset the sideboard table a little closer to the front edge so that the dowel would be flush with the edge of the plywood (thus, prettier and easier to cover).

Then we put some extra plywood scrap on the floor underneath everything. This was so we could drill all the way through the plywood top without worrying about drilling into the carpet beneath.

A spare piece of ¾” plywood protected the carpet from the drill nicely.

Starting with the two small front dowels, we butted them up to the edge of the sideboard and drilled one hole all the way through the dowel and the first layer of plywood that would be the new top.

Then we unstacked everything and put bolts through from the top (the part that was facing the floor while drilling) and attached them with washers and nuts on the dowels on the bottom.

After that, we did the same with one dowel on one side – drilling one hole on each end because this piece of dowel was longer.

We continued drilling, unstacking, and attaching one dowel at a time so we could make sure everything fit perfectly and would be tight around the sideboard.

Last dowel drilled!

Finally, we had the dowel frame all attached. It didn’t matter that the bolt heads weren’t perfectly flush with the top surface because I knew the padding I would be putting over everything would smooth any height difference out. As long as the dowels were secure on the plywood, it was perfect.

Dowel frame completely attached.

I initially had plans to secure the plywood top to the IKEA sideboard after covering it with appropriate ironing fabric, but it ended up fitting so snuggly we didn’t need to. For once, one of my crazy IKEA hacks actually turned out to be less complicated than originally planned! Win!

My NORDEN has a bigger top!

Here’s a size comparison of my new ironing table to my old ironing board.

You may have noticed I was able to move my fabric tubes from under my cutting table to under my new ironing table. This was perfect because with my new furniture arrangement, the tubes were a little more in the way under the cutting table.

Next came the hard part: waiting for specialty fabric to come in the mail so I could cover the plywood top.

The best ironing tables in costume shops are covered in a drapery interlining fabric called English bump cloth. I read somewhere (apparently I failed to save the link) that it was first used as a curtain interlining for British royalty in order to better insulate palaces from the cold and damp.

Bump cloth is a thick, somewhat flannel-like fabric that adds body and structure to fancy drapes.

English bump cloth fabric.

I found some at Fabric.com in my first search and placed an order. Even though the website said there was around 40 yards in stock at the time, I received an email a couple days later saying they were sold out. Grrr. (I have had such rotten luck with Fabric.com completely filling my last few orders!) If you feel like taking a chance with them, here’s the link for their Hanes Drapery Interlining Bump Cloth listed as item #UK-528.

Once I learned I wouldn’t be receiving my first order of bump cloth, I started looking elsewhere. I eventually found some at BuyFabrics.com and it was less expensive than Fabric.com’s! I quickly ordered 2 yards (I was planning to use two layers to cover my plywood top) and they shipped within 24 hours! Here’s their link for English Classic Bump Natural Interlining.

While I waited for my bump cloth, I went to my local JoAnn Fabrics and purchased 2 yards of aluminum coated ironing board fabric in their utility fabric section. (You can also buy it on their website.) I knew I wanted another silver ironing surface like I had on my ironing board before because it looks better for longer. Most costume shops cover their ironing tables in muslin, but leakage from irons stains muslin.

Ick! stained muslin on a costume shop ironing table. My silver cover never stained so visibly in all the years I had it despite an occasional iron pee.

As of yesterday, Fabrique! (the little fabric store where I work part-time) also started carrying silver ironing board fabric! You can order it from the website as well. From what I can tell, this fabric might have a slightly heavier muslin backing for the aluminum than what JoAnn sells. Too bad I wasn’t able to buy it from work when I needed some!

Finally, my bump cloth arrived and I could finish my ironing table!

The following steps can be used to cover any wooden table surface to create an ironing table if you already have a piece of furniture and don’t want to buy a NORDEN sideboard.

I cut two strips of bump cloth slightly wider and longer than the plywood top and laid them pebbled side down (slightly ribbed/striped side up) on a paper covered work space on the floor. Then I placed my plywood tabletop on top of the fabric.

Then I folded and stapled both layers of the bump cloth (at the same time) to the plywood, starting with one long side and then attaching the opposite side to make sure it was tight. The handle end of a metal nail setter allowed me to hammer staples all the way down along the dowel edges. After securing the long sides, I neatly folded the corners and stapled the rest into place.

I discovered, even after pulling the bump cloth tight, there was still too much slack when I rubbed the top surface. So I pushed the extra up toward the front of the tabletop while my husband held and spring clamped the excess in place.

To correct the slack, I pushed the extra fabric to the front edge and stapled it down. Then I moved the extra fold of fabric to the underside. This ended up working well because there was no dowel across the front and the little ridge of extra fabric created a nice little lip to mask the front edge of the sideboard top.

I used scraps of bump cloth to cover the nuts and screw ends so nothing could catch on them while I ironed later. Then I covered everything tightly with a layer of silver ironing board fabric stapled on through all the layers.

Once the plywood top was completely covered, we just pushed it in place on the sideboard. It fits nice and snug. If I ever need to recover it, I can just take the top off and change out the fabric that needs to be replaced. Super easy. =)

I love my new ironing table!

Bonus: I no longer need to iron yardage in steps before I roll it – I can roll as I iron! And all my ironing tools fit in one drawer while my press cloths & ironing products (aside from interfacing) all fit in the other drawer. I chose to hook my sleeve board over the right edge of the tabletop because I use it often and it makes the tool drawer a bit crowded. I don’t need to leave everything on the open shelf above where it gets dusty – now I only keep spray bottles and sizing etc. on the shelf above.

Ironing and rolling fabric in one step! And everything fits in the drawers!

I just need to clean up the used gravity-feed industrial iron I bought used years ago, and I’ll have totally finished my ironing upgrade!

I hope you find the above tutorial helpful and are inspired to build your own ironing table! Send me a photo or link if you do – I’d love to see!

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36 responses to “Build Your Own Ironing Table

  1. O! Jolly! March 19, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Wow! Beautiful! Crafty! Useful! What a fine job you did!

  2. Chuck March 19, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Looks great. That should show up on the IKEA hackers website. Very nice. I have a basket of ironing and am on my way. :o)

  3. Aleksandra @ Liveaboard Takes the Suburbs March 19, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Nice tutorial. I love the tip about looking for silver fabric to cover your ironing board with. My off-white ironing board cover looks horrific — just like your bad example picture. lol

    I will look for silver fabric next time! :)

  4. witness2fashion March 19, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Great work! And really good looking, too. Your studio is so beautiful. ‘Anything worth doing is worth doing right’ — and you did it right!
    For those who don’t have room for a permanent ironing table: Years ago I made an ironing table from a 18″ x 48″ piece of wood (actually, an old coffee table top) and five 13-ounce metal coffee cans, plus 10 plastic coffee can lids. By attaching 5 plastic lids to the underside of the board (one a few inches in from each corner plus one at the center), I could slip the cans into the lids for stability. The other lids went on the bottoms of the cans to protect my table top. The height of the cans was just right for raising the ironing surface to waist height when I put this contraption on my kitchen table. The padded and covered top (layers of cotton flannel padding plus layers of muslin, all ironed into place one at a time before stapling) could be stored behind a door when not in use. The cans, of course, had to “live” in a box when not in use, but I used this improvised ‘ironing table’ for ten years! I still use the padded top when ironing tablecloths and pillowcases. Ugly but Cheapo, and we drank the coffee. I wish I had known about bump cloth, or that you could buy silvered cloth. I would much rather live with your 60 inch, completely stable table with storage!

    • Brooke March 19, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      Thank you! =)

      Your coffee can version sounds great too! The best thing about not having to attach my top permanently to the sideboard means, I can also take off the ironing top and store it if I want to use the sideboard normally again. My ironing surface would probably store easily behind a door as well.

  5. Lelie // A Bouquet of Buttons March 19, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    What a great idea! Maybe I’ll do something similar in my sewing room Thank you for the inspiration!

  6. Fifty Dresses March 19, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    This is fabulous, Brooke (and by the way, I am so happy to see you back with a post. I was getting worried about you… I need to follow you on Instagram so I know you’re okay!). So much good information and great ideas in this post. You have certainly made the wheels in my head start turning!

    • Brooke March 19, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      Thanks, Karen! You deserve an ironing table for all those beautiful couture outfits you make yourself! Happy my post is giving you ideas. =)

      My parents (especially my dad) usually keep up with my daily activities by spying on my Twitter & IG even though they don’t have accounts, hehe. It really is the best way to check on me because I can update both of those from my phone. I can’t believe how many back-to-back jobs I’ve been getting this year!

  7. Laurie March 19, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Fantastic! I would love a larger more stable ironing table but it will have to wait til I have an actual sewing room! Right now I have commandeered part of our family room. :) Love the wall design… You did a great job on it Brooke!

    • Brooke March 19, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      Thank you! I hope you have a sewing room someday, but until then you could make a store-away ironing surface with a piece of plywood if you wanted. Mine could be taken on and off the sideboard if I needed to go back and forth between normal and sewing furniture. Just a thought. =)

  8. macinic March 19, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    This is brilliant – I love your sewing room updates! I just broke my ironing board (too much downwards pressure…), so a tabletop version sounds very timely ;)

    • Brooke March 19, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      Thanks! I’m thrilled my post was so timely for you! I hope you are able to upgrade to a sturdier table soon. =)

      So nice to know you enjoy seeing my work space – there will be more to come once I have time to finish reorganizing everything else.

  9. sewlittletime March 20, 2014 at 3:50 am

    Wow – great hack! I love the outlines on the wall of your sewing room. Are they stickers?

    • Brooke March 20, 2014 at 8:04 am

      Thanks & thanks! The dresses on the wall are Vera Wang sketches from a book that I projected on the wall, pencil traced, and then painted in.

  10. Sandra (Sewist-Stitch) March 21, 2014 at 3:16 am

    I am so inspired with the things you make for your sewing room. I love your new ironing table.

  11. Nicki March 21, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Did you end up needing the full two yard of the aluminum coated fabric?

    • Brooke March 21, 2014 at 9:52 pm

      Yes, I needed 60 inches (length of my tabletop) plus enough to fold around the edge and staple to the underside. 72 inches (aka 2 yards) was just the right amount.

  12. laurahoj March 25, 2014 at 12:35 am

    This is fabulous! Thanks for sharing how to do it.

  13. Chuleenan - C Sews March 25, 2014 at 1:14 am

    Love it! If I ever have space for an ironing table, I want to make one. Thanks for the instructions! I’m soooo jealous of your sewing studio!

  14. KarenElissa April 3, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    How heat resistant do you think the cover is? I’m looking at making a removable cover for my counter top, do you think the two layers of fabric would totally protect everything underneath?

    • Brooke April 3, 2014 at 11:17 pm

      I think it’s pretty heat resistant, but I would make a removable board using a piece of plywood like I did for my table just to be safe, especially if you have laminate counters. You could just cover a thin piece of plywood and put a non-slip rubber mat (like cabinet lining) under the removable board to keep it from sliding around.

  15. Lorinda Jones April 5, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    Yet again you have created a wonderful solution! The added storage space is a bonus. Thanks for the Post!.

  16. mary kelly August 21, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    what a wonderful and innovative idea. I am recently retired and can now devote more time doing what I love. My sewing room is a work in progress, this was my first project and I love it.Soon my once used bedroom will be my haven for fun and creativity. Gotta go now there is ironing to be done.

  17. Jen October 4, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Hi! I love this! I am currently getting ready to build my own ironing table with my dad :) I just have one question. Do you use steam when you iron? Do you have to worry about the wood warping from the steam? Thanks!

    • Brooke October 5, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      Yes, I use steam (a lot). The bump cloth is what protects the wooden top from getting wet and warping. And I’ve never seen an ironing table in a costume shop that has any issues since everything dries out pretty fast because of using a hot iron on the surface. You might have trouble with the wooden top if you don’t use the bump cloth layer(s) though.

      Have fun with your build! =)

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