You'll see from our instructional photos below that we made this jazzy ironing board cover while working in our booth at January's CHA Craft Super Show. So I don't want to hear any more whining about having no time and no space to sew. This tutorial is proof positive you can have success in the smallest of areas. An ironing board cover might seem like a rather mundane project, but think about it – you look at your ironing board a lot. Wouldn't it be easier on the eyes if it had a cheery cover?
We chose fabrics from one of our favorite collections right now: Paula Prass' Woodland Delight from Michael Miller Fabrics. The combination is bold, bright and beautiful. The steps to make it are quick, easy and fun. You can find it online at FatQuarterShop and QuiltHome.
Bear in mind our cover is meant to do just that ... cover up a worn-out ironing board pad. You can't put it right over the metal of the ironing board. You still need the padding and the heat resistant fabric of an actual pad.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome DC4030)
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1¾ yard each of TWO coordinating 45" wide fabrics: we used Paula Prass' Woodland Delight in Modern Flora Brown and Brick Path Orange from Michael Miller Fabrics
- 5 yards of ½" to ¾" cording or ribbon to gather bottom edge: we used a simple pink grosgrain ribbon
- All purpose thread to match fabrics
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Large safety pin
- Straight pins
- Make a flat pattern of the TOP of your ironing board, using newspaper or lightweight paper. Also measure, but do not cut, the depth of the ironing board lip. Your pattern should be actual size and will look something like this:
- Our design is made up of three panels: one center panel and two side panels. The middle panel is twice as wide as the side panels.
- Fold your flat pattern in half and then in half again to create four even sections.
- Using these fold lines as your guides, cut off the two side pieces. You will use one side piece and the middle piece as patterns. You can discard the other side piece.
CAUTION: These next steps require a little math. You know, ever since taking up sewing, I am forever glad to have paid attention during fourth grade fractions class, even when annoying Susan Hawkinson was kicking the back of my chair.
Marking and cutting the side panels
- First, you need to figure out how much to add to your side piece in order to allow it to wrap around and under the ironing board, as well as to have enough for a casing for your cording/ribbon.
- Start with the depth of your ironing board's lip (ours was 1- 5/16" deep), add 1½ to make a casing, plus another 2½" to allow the cover to wrap under the board and give you a nice snug fit across the top. In our sample, these three figures add up to 5¼". We rounded up to 5½" just to be safe.
- You need to add this 5½" all the way around the outside edge of the side piece, including the top and bottom. On the inside edge, add just ½" for a seam allowance to attach to the center panel.
- Fold the fabric for your side panels (Modern Floral Brown in our sample) so you can center your pattern with plenty of room around to add your necessary inches. You will be cutting through both layers, so you'll end up with both side panels with one cut.
NOTE: We were working on site with a much bigger piece of fabric than you would need to buy, so don't worry if your folded fabric looks a bit different than ours.
- Using your see-through ruler and a fabric pen or pencil, measure and mark the ½" inner edge and the 5½" around the opposite side, the top and the bottom. We find it's best to work from the right side of the fabric to make sure you are keeping everything nice and straight. Make little dots with the fabric pen, then connect the dots with your ruler to give you a cutting line to follow.
- Cut along your drawn lines.
- As you measure and mark up to the front point of your side panel, you will end up with even more than 5½" extending beyond the pattern's point. That's okay, we'll trim some of this off later. It's most important to keep your cut line straight. In other words, mark and measure at 5½" ALL the way up to the point, then continue the cutting line at the same angle until it intersects with the edge of your fabric. Here's Jackie holding up our finished side panel cut to give you an idea of what you're going for.
Marking and cutting the center panel
- Fold the fabric for your center panel pattern piece in half (Brick Path Orange in our sample), because you'll be cutting it out against the fold of your fabric.
- Add the same 5½" to the top and the bottom as you did with the side panels, and ½" along the outer side for your seam allowance to stitch the center panel to each side panel. Measure, mark and cut as you did above for the side panels. Do NOT cut the fold.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Attach side pieces to center
- Pin a side panel to each side of the center panel. Keep right sides together and match up your raw edges.
- Remember, the points of the side panels will extend slightly off the end. That's okay; it's part of the seam allowance and you can chop it off after you sew.
- Stitch both side panels to the center, using a ½" seam allowance.
- Zig zag the seam allowances together to finish. For more on finishing seams, read our tutorial: Finishing Raw Seams: Part 1 – Sewing Machine Finishes.
- Press seams towards the side panels. You'll topstitch them down in the next step, so you want your seam allowance under the side you'll be topstiching.
- Topstitch approximately ¼" from center panel seams on both sides.
NOTE: We like to increase stitch length (we went from 2.4 to 3.0) for topstitching. It looks a little nicer to have the longer stitch length, and since the topstitching isn't holding anything together (it just looks pretty and helps the cover stay flat), you don't need a super tight stitch length.
- Here's Jackie holding up our finished flat cover.
- Turn the outside edge under ½" all the way around and press.
- Turn under another 1" all the way around and press.
- As you fold around the side angles and the top rounded point, you'll need to ease the fabric to create a proper curve. Press well and pin well to keep these small folds in place.
- Leave a 2" opening un-pinned at the center of the back.
- Stitch all the way around, approximately ¼" from the inside folded edge to create the casing. Remember to leave that 2" opening in the center back.
- Place a large safety pin on one end of your ribbon or cording. Feed this end through the casing.
NOTE: It's a good idea to put another large safety pin on the opposite end of the ribbon so you don't accidentally pull it through.
- Push the safety pin through the casing, gathering as you go.
- Once you've fed the ribbon/cording all the way through and out the opposite end, adjust the gathers to fit the cover on your ironing board. Pull the ends of the ribbon to draw the cover taut, and tie a simple knot or bow.
NOTE: We recommend leaving the large safety pins on the ends of the ribbon until you are all done with your adjustments and have tied your final knot or bow. It's a real pain to have the ribbon disappear into the casing and try to wiggle it out again.
Contributors Sample Creation & Instructions: Jacqueline Smerek
Other machines suitable for this project include the Baby Lock Maria A-Line Brother CE-5000 Project Runway.