I wanted a small ironing pad that I could put near my sewing machine, for pressing open seams while I’m constructing garments. It would also be really helpful for quilting, paper piecing, ironing fusible web or freezer paper to applique fabric, setting seams, or for any quick pressing task that you do in between sewing steps. I decided to make it to slide over the leaf of my sewing table, so that it would stay in place during use, and also because the size of the table leaf was just about perfect for me.
I was thinking about what I could use to protect my sewing desk from steam and heat, and I thought of those Mylar emergency “space blankets”. They resist and reflect heat, so why not use one of those as the backing for my ironing pad?
For the fabric, I chose a plaid cotton flannel, so that it would have built-in grid lines for lining up the things I’m pressing. You definitely don’t want to use the wrong kind of fabric here… Synthetics can melt and make a huge mess if they get too hot. The hottest setting on the iron is recommended for linen, cotton, and wool. So they can handle the most heat, and will be a good choice for the top of the ironing pad. The fabric I used was actually a pillowcase in its former life, so I didn’t have to hem the open edge.
Inside this ironing mat, in between the flannel and the Mylar, is 2 layers of this cotton batting. I’ve used this batting in the past, and have been very happy with how well it holds together. Since this is a small mat, I wasn’t planning on actually quilting the layers together, and I wanted to use a batting that held together well. It also had to be 100% cotton, to stand up to the heat of the iron.
I measured the leaf of my sewing table, and added seam allowances. Then I cut my materials this size, and layered a “sandwich” consisting of two layers of flannel on the bottom, then two layers of batting, and then one layer of Mylar space blanket on top. I used clothespins to hold it together, because I didn’t want to pin through the Mylar and make more holes in it than I had to. Binder clips would also work great here.
By the way, because Mylar is so shiny, it’s super funky to photograph! The space blanket I was using came folded tightly, and the previous folds (and every little wrinkle) were shining, and it looks really uneven, but it sewed a lot smoother than it looks.
I sewed through all of the layers around 3 of the edges, sewing hem-to-bottom on each side, and always stitching with the Mylar on top. I did not sew along the open edge that will slide over the leaf on my sewing table, so now I have a basic pillowcase shape again. Then I turned one layer of flannel to the back, which turned the seam allowances to the inside, and gave me a flannel pocket with batting and Mylar layered inside. Now the ironing pad just slides over the leaf on my sewing table.
It’s the perfect size to use along with my travel iron for quick pressing tasks. If you wanted a larger ironing surface, you could easily make something like this to go on the top of a dresser or table. Depending on the size of your finished pressing mat, you may need to quilt through the layers to ensure that the batting does not shift or bunch up over time. I might make a larger ironing surface in the future (I have a huge piece of Mylar left over from the emergency blanket) to go on top of the cutting table in the middle of my sewing room.
Since this was kind of an experiment for me, I don’t make any claims about how well the pressing pad will protect your tabletop from heat. My sewing desk came from Goodwill, so I was willing to give this idea a try, and it’s working fine for me. But if you have an heirloom piece of sewing furniture, please use something a little more conventional, to be on the safe side.
Now, on to more pressing matters! 😀