New to Quilting?

If you are brand new to quilting and don't know where to begin, start with the posts in September 2011 (look in the blog archive). The first four posts cover basics such as choosing equipment, choosing colors, how to sew 1/4" seams, how to use a rotary cutter, and how to press (not iron) your block during construction.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Design and Pressing Board

I like having a small board that I can use to put the pieces of my block on and move from cutting table to sewing table to ironing board. If I don't use it, I accidentally rearrange pieces and end up sewing them together in the wrong order or the wrong direction.

What you need:

  • An old cork bulletin board
  • Screwdriver or needle nose pliers (to remove the staples on the back of the board)
  • Scrap of flannel (or fleece)
  • Packing tape (or a stapler that you can open and staple flat)
  • Ruler
  • Utility knife

Here's how I made my portable design and pressing board.

An old cork bulletin board from DI that cost $2.

Remove the frame. (Any ideas on what to do with the frame? Leave a comment--I'd love to re-purose this, too!) I used needle nose pliers to pull the staples out of the back of the board that attached it to the frame.

The bulletin board was 17" x 24". Since I wanted my board to be square I used a ruler and made two marks at 17" from the edge (you can see the marks above and below the ruler). 

You could leave the bulletin board a rectangle and fit the flannel without cutting the board. Mine is a square because this size fits on the end of my sewing table easily.

I lined my ruler up along the two marks and used a utility knife to cut through the cork and backing.

I threw away the smaller piece (gasp! I threw something away!) You can see how nicely this size fits on the side of my sewing table.

I traced around a piece of flannel, cut about 1 1/2" from the line, and serged the edges. You don't really have to serge the edges, but I think it keeps the fabric from fraying while I'm taping it to the back of the board. 
 I also have a larger board made from fleece and foam core board, but when I use it as a pressing surface I am very careful to press gently and for short amounts of time because I'm concerned that the fleece (which isn't cotton at all) will melt if I heat it too long. As long as I've been careful I haven't had any trouble with it.

When I made the fleece board I used a spray adhesive to attach the fleece to the board so there wouldn't be any bulk on the back of the board to prevent it from laying flat on the table.

First I taped the corners because I wanted the corners to be neat. It isn't really necessary, but I think it makes the corners lie a little flatter.

Next I taped along the center of each side working on opposite sides, not taping clockwise, so I could stretch the flannel evenly.

I used a pair of scissors to tuck the side edge down before I taped near the corners. I don't really think you have to be that neat, but if I'm taking photos of my work I thought I should probably make my work as nice and neat as possible.

Finish taping the sides. You could probably staple the sides if you don't have packing tape.

All ready to use! The lint roller is part of my sewing room equipment. When my design/pressing board gets too many pieces of thread stuck to it I run the lint roller across and it is as good as new. That's especially helpful when changing from light fabric to dark fabric.
I love my portable design and pressing boards. I use one size or the other every time I am making a block. I love being able to set up my pieces on the board at the cutting table and then move them to the sewing table without the possibility of them being accidentally rearranged. I love being able to take the partially sewn block to the ironing board and press without changing the orientation of the sub-units that I've just sewn.

I don't need any padding under the flannel to use it as a press board. I find the less 'puffy' the pressing surface is the crisper the open seam is when I am done pressing.

This little piece of equipment has saved me time and frustration. I rarely sew a sub-unit into the block in the wrong direction, which means I spend less time picking out seams and re-sewing them.

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