Utilitarian sewing… a cozy new cover for my ironing board.

Back to my recent spate of utilitarian sewing projects. I have a confession. I have actually spent time photoshopping the stains out of my basic white ironing board cover before posting pictures to my blog. Yup. Ten minutes of using the clone stamp so that all y’all don’t think I let Lucy the hound use the ironing board to take care of business. I finally decided to do something about it after finding a nice bolt of red ticking at a local fabric shop (red ticking! how awesome!) First, an action shot. Then after the jump, how I did it…

My tutorial assumes you have an old ironing board cover around that fits. If you don’t, scroll down to the tip headed “Check your sizing” to see how much overhang I had on my cover. You should be able to use this as a guide to draping your own cover!

Materials –

  • Main fabric: around 2 yards of cotton fabric… (Note: My ironing board is 54” long and 14” wide. You’ll need a few inches overhang  on either end on on the sides. I bought two yards of fabric. If you cut well, you could probably make two covers from one length of fabric… )
  • Casing fabric…you’ll have enough scrap to make the casing from the main fabric. Or if you want to make the casing in a contrasting color, you’ll need less than half of a yard of contrast fabric to cut on grain, more to cut on the bias. I cut my casing on the bias, and it made it easier to shape the fabric around the corners and curves, but if you use strips cut on grain, it’ll work since everything gets all gathered anyway and all of this is out of sight on the bottom of the ironing board.
  • String and closure – if you’re reusing an old board cover, you’ll reuse the string. If you’re not reusing, then you’ll need something… 5 yards or so of elastic (string or 1/4”), yarn or twine. A cool plastic cord stop comes in hand too!

Wash well. Wash hot. Dry in the dryer until it’s nearly on fire. You’ll be ironing this, so you want to get all the shrinking done before hand.

Buy fabric. Wash and dry. Remove string.

I bought two yards of red ticket and prewashed in hot water and then toasted well in the dryer. I wanted to get everything to shrink as much as possible prior to future iron use. I ironed my freshly toasted ticking, then laid it out on the table and laid my old ironing board cover on top of it. Looks pretty sorry, huh?

I also removed the string and set aside to use on the new cover. My particular cover had an elastic string fastened with one of those plastic cord stops that usually shows up on outerwear purchased at REI.

Press well.

Next I pressed the old cover well. I’ll be using it as a pattern piece, so I want it to lie as flat as possible. I considered cutting off the velcro straps to reuse as well, but decided that I didn’t really need them.
 02_press cover

Cut out new cover.

I used the old ironing board cover to cut out the new cover. My old cover had a little casing sewn into the hem. I just cut around that using a rotary cover and a plastic quilting-type ruler to add about an inch for seam allowances. The ruler I’m using has a handle (that’s the purple thing I’m holding on to.)

Here is the new cover, all nicely cut out (the old cover is sitting on top of it.)

Check your sizing.

I thought it would be a good idea to make sure that the cover was the right size – although if it was too small, I guess I would have been out of luck! I draped it over the ironing board to check. If you are starting from scratch (no previous ironing board cover with which to make a pattern), you can see from this photo how much overhang I had on my cover.

Prepare casing.

I decided to add on a casing in a contrasting color to thread my elastic string through (the one I removed in step #1). I cut about 800 yards of 2 inch strips out of some red cotton. My continuous bias strip technique definitely leaves something to be desired. Here’s a not-very-instructive photo of a pile of bias tape sitting on top of my new cover. I think I cut about five yards and had a lot left over.

Press and attach casing

I pressed the 2 inch strips into 1 inch strips (you know, fold in half, press, burn finger, wonder why you didn’t take up a hobby that’s more healthy and safer. Like rollerblading.) Line up raw edges of the casing to the raw edge of the cover, right sides together and sew along the edge. I used a serger and 3/8” seam allowances. You could just as easily use a regular machine and a straight stich, although that would leave a pretty unfinished seam, I guess**! I left a gap of a few inches on the flat end of the cover (you can see what I mean below) to string the elastic thread through.

**If I actually was sewing this on a regular sewing machine, I probably would have finished the edges of the cover with a narrow hem then folded over to create a casing out of the fabric. Or else made the red strip into double fold bias tape and encased the raw edge of the cover in the bias tape, just overlapping the cover fabric and the bias tape a bit  to make a nice casing for the string. But I’m obsessed with nice inside finishing. Just doing it my serger way, but with a straight stitch would work perfectly well and the unfinished seams would not show once the elastic string is threaded through and tightened.

Put the cover on, thread elastic and tighten!

Last step! Thread the string/elastic back through. If you use a plastic cord lock, you can just secure one end of the string to that and use that to fish it through the casing. If you don’t have one of these, use a safety pin or something like that to make it easier to pull through the casing. If you are starting from scratch there’s really no reason a piece of regular twine or yarn wouldn’t work to tighten the cover. You might have to tighten occasionally, but it should do the trick!

Put cover back on – you can see that I just re-used the pad that was on my ironing board. Note – you can also see in this picture the gap that I left to pull the strings through.


Here’s my requisite finished photo, complete with bad lighting! Can you just hear the Barry White? This project was SUPER EASY and I highly recommend that everyone who has been thinking of recovering their ironing board to get out there and do it! As sewists, it’s just one of those things that will make our days a little brighter!

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  • Jane M
    December 13, 2010

    OMG, I am so laughing over your photoshopping remark. I just started blogging a few months ago and already I'm so aware of the stains on my ironing board. Just ordered some new fabric this morning so your pictures are timely and inspiring…the new cover looks so crisp, sharp and ready to get to work.

  • Faye Lewis
    December 10, 2010

    Such a good tutorial. Your fabric reminds me of some pink and white seersucker that I purchased several years ago. I was under the impression that I would make a suit from it, but once I got it home it just wasn't me – so here it still sits. I don't know if seersucker would make a good ironing board cover though. I'm adding your tutorial to the list on my blog for feature reference.

  • Sherry
    December 10, 2010

    I laughed when I read your first sentence! My ironing board is calico with water stains and fusible resin remnants, and I photoshopped it all out too once!
    I'm on the lookout for a nice stripe or toile de jouy to cover it with – I want it pretty because I sew in our lounge, and if I'm honest the ironing board is there half the time!

  • tanitisis
    December 10, 2010

    LOL… I don't think it would have occurred to me to photoshop out the stains (not that I ever photograph my ironing board). Mine does have stripes on it, which come in handy sometimes when you're ironing hems :)

  • Psycho Sue- Sew Misunderstood
    December 10, 2010

    snuggy buggy! you made this look so easy I just might do it!

  • Sølvi
    December 10, 2010

    I made a new cover for my ironing board in January – and it already seems I need a new one… Turns out, cream is not a good color for ironing boards… Next time I´ll try with a darker colored cover. Love yours! :-)

  • Debi
    December 10, 2010

    This is a great tutorial…I've been actually thinking about recovering our ironing board (after we move) so this is perfectly timed!!

  • neighbourhood.gal
    December 10, 2010

    The ticking is lovely. One of these days I am going to recover my board in gingham.

  • Tasia
    December 10, 2010

    Nice work! Your comment about photoshopping the stains made me think of my own stained ironing board cover.. I'm embarrassed that I take photos with stains showing! Love the stripes, AND you can use them to iron in straight lines :)

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