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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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How I Organized My Sewing Room

One of the blogs I loyally follow is IKEAhackers.net because it inspires me to think outside the box and keeps my creative mind active.

Long before I ever discovered Jules’ blog, I actually did some IKEA hacking of my own in my sewing room. (I’ve since seen similar hacks but not exactly the same.)  Here is how it turned out:

And this is how I did it…

I spent years searching for the perfect fabric cutting table that wasn’t horribly expensive, and I eventually started hunting for ideas at IKEA. Luckily, a store had just opened a few minutes away from my house by the time inspiration struck! I needed two main things in a cutting table: a large surface and the height of a kitchen countertop. (Both of which are easy to find but not together.)

The lightbulb moment came when I saw a handful of LACK tables pushed together to form a larger table in an IKEA catalog, and I wondered how tall two LACKs would be if they were stacked on top of each other. A glance at the dimensions listed in the catalog and a quick calculation and – lightbulb! Stacked, they were almost 36 inches. At only ⅝” shorter than my kitchen countertops, it was the perfect solution. I could create a modular table by stacking LACK tables two high and arranging enough of these side-by-side to get the surface area I needed.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the build but it is fairly simple to explain.

I bought 12 white LACK tables and my husband and I assembled all of them according to the instructions. We turned half of the tables over and drilled 2 holes in the bottom of each leg (opposite corners of the square leg). In each hole, we either glued a wooden peg (leftover from other IKEA projects) or a small dowel-rod segment.

Once the glue was dry, we balanced one pegged table on top of an unaltered LACK and marked were the pegs touched the surface of the lower table’s top. Then we drilled holes where we marked, put some glue on the pegs, and pushed the two tables together (using a rubber mallet when necessary).

Eventually, we had 6 double stacked tables. (And they were really easy to get through the doorway!) The stacks were then arranged 2 by 3 where I wanted them in the room, and I used strips of sew-on Velcro around the center legs to keep the tables flush with each other on the top surface.

 I covered the table with a store-bought cardboard cutting board and I keep it from sliding around with scraps of leftover STOPP anti-slip rug underlay (also from IKEA).

Rubber mat under cutting board keeps it from skating

The unplanned bonus of the hack was the “shelf” that was created with the bottom layer of tables. I suddenly had places to pile my fabric tubes and bolts, and some large plastic bins fit in the “cubbies” on the floor.

Plenty of storage under table now!

Recently, I purchased a couple of RIBBA picture ledges to use on my sewing room wall as shelves for tiny jars, ribbon spools, and other miscellaneous tools.

A few days after hanging them on the wall, I realized that they would be the perfect width for holding my rulers – which I have never been able to find a home for or keep from burying under my projects. I measured the small ledge already hanging on my wall and it was exactly the same width & height as a LACK tabletop! I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before! The RIBBA picture ledge is practically made for the LACK!

So I bought two more small RIBBAs and marked & drilled the necessary holes on the sides of my cutting table. (In retrospect, it would have been much easier to mark the holes by lining up the RIBBA with the legless tabletop on the floor, if I hadn’t already built the table years ago.) Then I attached the ledges with 3” drywall screws and moved my rulers into their new home. I quickly discovered the ledge also makes a good pencil tray.

All my yardsticks and rulers fit in the two end-to-end RIBBAs

The other major sewing room hack is in the closet where I store most of my fabric and some of my patterns. It used to be a major disaster!

BEFORE (ugh – how embarrassing!)

(In hopes that it might inspire others, here’s the short version.) Basically, we turned the ANTONIUS drawer frames 90° so that the wire drawers slide out, with the wider side of the drawer in the front. By reorienting the frame design, the closet holds 16 drawers, maximizing the use of space with two towers facing each other. And I can still pull a basket drawer completely out of the closet when I need to go through it. The hack turned out to be more complicated than I expected, so I had to recruit my husband’s coworker to shorten the drawer frame pieces. (At work he has access to power tools I don’t have at home – like the steel-cutting kind.)

I’m sure with more time, I could have figured out a better way to execute the project, but it’s installed and it works, so I’m happy.

MUCH better! I roll the plastic drawer tower out to access the IKEA wire drawers.

Related posts:

DIY Curtain for a Palladian Window

My Sewing Space: The Sequel

I’m in a Book! So Let’s Have a Givaway!

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