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Time Savers: A low ironing board

I’ve adopted this dead simple time-saving method lately, and I must share.

First, my set-up: I have a long work table with a sewing machine one one end and my serger on the other. I use a rolling chair to shift between the two as I’m sewing and finishing (that is, if I’m using the serger at all).

But I’d still have to get up and walk to the ironing board every time I need to press a seam. This doesn’t sound too troublesome, I know. But I have this tendency to stop and stare into space whenever there’s a break in my flow. Or go talk to Kenn. Or make a cup of tea.

What can I say? I’m easily distracted.

So I lowered my ironing board, placed it at the foot of the table, and voilà! I can roll right up, no danger of getting the stares on the walk over or deciding to take a break and watch kitten videos for no reason.

You’d be amazed at how much time this saves! I feel like I finish things much more quickly now.

I’m working on building a bigger pressing station to replace this awful ironing board, by the way. I’ll share that when it’s done.

Now I really must do something about all those cables.

Interested in more quick tips like this? You may want to subscribe to Snippets, our weekly email sewing tip.

Sarai Mitnick


Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.



December 19, 2012 #

I have this little iron board that must be from Target or someplace. It has little feet so I prop it up on my old wood trunk and iron away. What I really need is one of those little quilting irons so I can just flatten out little corners and what not. I don’t even need an ironing board for that…just maybe a heat resistant mat with a piece of felt on it? The little iron is on my wishlist for Santa.


December 19, 2012 #

This was my plan… rearranging my sewing room to fit in the dress form Santa is bringing, plus an ironing board. This way I don’t have to keep getting up and walking to the laundry!

Fabric Wench

December 19, 2012 #

I have a similar set up for my machines and ironing board, love it! My sewing machine is next to the ironing board, though, because I find I need to press more frequently when using the sewing machine as compared to the serger. And I still find myself staring out the window at the birds in my backyard, but that is when I have my best ideas come to me. :)

Kay in Minne-snow-ta

December 19, 2012 #

That is a BRILLIANT idea. And, I am going to use this idea in my sewing room!! k


December 19, 2012 #

I just did this exact same set-up in my sewing space! I found that every time I had to stop and go iron I ended up walking away from the project for nearly the rest of the day – it was just too easy to stop once my flow was interrupted. With this set up I’m so much more productive :)

Rae Hoekstra

December 19, 2012 #

I do this too!! So handy.


December 19, 2012 #

There’s been a lot of talk in the last year about how sitting all of the time is not good for people… why not turn this around and make a standing work area for the sewing machine?


December 19, 2012 #

I’m with Hanna, sitting all day is no good. While this might save a little time, having all your tools within sitting reach means you’re less likely to get up and stretch. I have my ironing board at a similar angle to my machine, but at standing height. I just keep it in the corner away from the door, so when I swing around to iron, I can’t get too distracted :)

Jennifer S

December 19, 2012 #

I just got all fancy yesterday and ordered a gravity fed steam iron. I have issues with irons that shut off all the time and run out of water so quickly as well. I think I’ll be good now with an iron that gets that steamy and hot. Having to unplug and replug in my iron all the time has me trained to make sure it’s unplugged when I leave the room. Now I’m on the hunt for a larger, more sturdy ironing board. Being a sometimes quilter, it would be nice to be able to iron more than a foot of fabric width at a time. I’m not having much luck with the local stores, but the boards I’m looking at online are in the $200 range, which I’m not really comfortable with either.

I am excitedly waiting for your post on a pressing station. I’m stumped on building one.


December 19, 2012 #

I’ve used this set up for a long time and I added a wooden filing cabinet at the end so that there is a place to set the supplies and the board is more exposed. I find that it helps keep the flow of the project going. Since I’m the kind of person who is constantly popping up out of my chair I don’t worry about sitting at the machine for too long at a stretch.


December 19, 2012 #

What a Great Idea !!!! I too am so easily distracted. On my way to the ironing board, it’s a cup of coffee, a telephone call and boom the day is gone !!!

Elizabeth mayfield-Hart

December 19, 2012 #

My biggest problem is my iron turning off when it sits too long! I can’t find an iron without an automatic off switch. Maybe I just sew slow!

ebony h.

December 19, 2012 #

Yep, this is my biggest problem too! When I worked as a wardrobe stylist we always had an iron similar to this one in the studio:

It’s true, this is an investment piece (one I’ve yet to make myself), but once these heat up they’ll stay hot till you shut ’em off, which is great for saving time but could also be a little dangerous. (The same could be said of the insanely powerful steam they deliver!)


December 19, 2012 #

I have my ironing board right next to my machines too. It is especially good when you are working on small projects, like quilt blocks.


December 19, 2012 #

I set my sewing area up like this when I moved it downstairs about nine months ago and I find I am much more productive being able to swivel around and press. It is particularly helpful when quilting with all those smaller seams that need to be pressed before you can move on. I still get up so much during the process that there is no worry about me sitting too much.


December 20, 2012 #

I’m with you. I think you’d have to be a really careful planner to remain sitting for hours, even with a set up like this. I still get up frequently, just not every few minutes.

Rachel W.

December 19, 2012 #

I love this set-up! I did the exact opposite and raised my sewing table to the height of my pressing station so I can stand while working– but my motivation (not interrupting workflow) was exactly the same!

Because I’m standing all the time, I did have to get some anti-fatigue mats (those squares of dense foam that lock together like puzzle pieces) to keep my feet happy. That was an unexpected bonus: I can now run my mess of cords under those mats to keep the shop safe and tidy. :)

Sandy Woerner

December 19, 2012 #

I’m so jealous, what I would give to have an actual sewing station set up, let alone a serger. It has always been my dream to have a designated area just for me. I can’t complain, at least I have what matters. Good job!!


December 19, 2012 #

Great idea but why don’t you swap your serger and sewing mschines around so that the one you use most is closer to the ironing board . Also how do you cope with the iron auto shut off or doesn’t yours do that?


December 20, 2012 #

Honestly, I did this pretty recently and hadn’t really considered swapping them. But I use my serger frequently enough these days that I kind of like having it next to the iron, since that’s the order things go in.

As for the auto shut off, I just deal with it. My iron heats up really quickly, so it’s not a huge huge deal to me. One without auto shut off is appealing, but I am super paranoid about leaving the iron on, so I put safety first.

ebony h.

December 19, 2012 #

Two things: 1. I must say that with all you have accomplished in life it is difficult to imagine you as the sort of woman who gets distracted on the walk to the ironing board!

2. You’ve mentioned several times that you rarely use your serger. I’m curious what your typical finishing method is and why your prefer this finish to that of a serger? I’ve been using (slightly dull & thus pretty frustrating) pinking shears for finishing but have been contemplating a serger. However, I’m worried about it making me “lazy” or otherwise inhibiting my desire to learn other finishing techniques. That said, I’ve tried a variety of finishes and still haven’t come close to making anything as quick and clean as a serged finished. Anyway, any thoughts on this would be lovely!


December 19, 2012 #

French seams! They’re so easy, they only take a little more work than other finishing methods, and they look fabulous. They don’t work for everything though, because they can be bulky and aren’t always a good choice for curves, but for straight seams in light-medium weight fabrics, they’re my absolute favourite.

There’s also the old turn-and stitch, which I’ll often use for the backs of zips, and Hong Kong (which I haven’t yet tried but have a project in mind to have a go on).


December 20, 2012 #

Ha, no way! I don’t know where I would be in life without daydreaming!

I actually have been using the serger more and more. It goes in waves, depending on the types of fabrics I’m sewing with and what I’m making. For example, a Negroni shirt doesn’t require a serger, because it has flat felled seams. If I’m sewing with light silks, I often do a French seam. Heavy twill, I might do bound seams. But I do turn to my serger these days for lots of things.


December 19, 2012 #

That’s a great idea. I don’t mind getting up to iron but I’m quite tall and my iron board is on it’s highest stand way to low for me. I never thought of lowering the board so I could sit.

Thanks for sharing, iI’m definitely going to try this.


December 19, 2012 #

I was also frustrated with the auto off feature on my standard size iron. I’ve been using my small Rowenta travel iron, which I got on sale at Joann’s for about $35. I realized it doesn’t have auto off and presses really nicely, esp for clothes which don’t tend to have yards and yards of material to press.


December 19, 2012 #

the great thing about entrepreneurship is that you can implement ”what works best for me”. i have tried to iron sitting down many times (i.e. during pregnancy or illnes) but was never satisfied with the efficiency. sarai, if it helps you, i say go for it!


December 19, 2012 #

I love doing this! I got the idea from my Mom since she sets up her sewing space just like that. It’s amazing how much more I get accomplished when I can just spin around and start pressing.


December 19, 2012 #

Oh my goodness I think this is the best tip ever! At the moment I have to run between my sewing room and the office which is upstairs every time I need to press a seam. Needless to say, with the kitchen in between, there is plenty of tea drinking going on while I sew! Haha


December 20, 2012 #

ive recently set up my sewing space like this too.i purchased the prym mini steam iron & the mini table top ironing board from ikea – what a difference it makes! merry christmas


December 20, 2012 #

Re: the cords – you could install a little cafe rod at the top of the back legs of the work table & make a little curtain to hide the cords.


December 20, 2012 #

Hmm, interesting idea. I was thinking of sewing or knitting a little tube for them, just to gather and neaten them a bit.


December 20, 2012 #

A tube that closes with some Velcro works great, and is prettier than cords. Also, when you want to reconfigure again, it’s a snap (or a Velcro rip!) to change around. It would also let you move the cords through them more efficiently; the cord to my iron gets moved ALL OVER during use.

In my office, I have a power strip stuck to the underside of my desk, and the myriad of cords are Velcroed nearby. Only the power strip cord is visible. This might work, too.

Natasha E

December 20, 2012 #

I have one of those fold up pressing stations so when I have a lot of pressing to do I set it up on a folding station and watch TV


December 21, 2012 #

When I reorganized my sewing room/yarn lair I made sure that I could put my iron right next to my machine. I have to swivel around in my chair and can press seams. Since all ironing in the house takes place there, it isn’t a big deal.

Now that I’ve got a tendon injury in my foot and am on crutches, not using my left foot at all, it was a god send when I was finishing up all the handmade gifts. I could easily work for a few hours with minimal up and down time.


December 21, 2012 #

I live in a forties-era house with a built-in ironing board cupboard, so when we moved in I got rid of my stand-alone ironing board. When I’m sewing, I pull our piano bench from the living room in, cover it with a wool blanket, and use that for ironing. This is fine for smaller items and it definitely cuts my time down! I do still have to use the kitchen-ironing board for anything larger than a skirt.


December 29, 2012 #

I love your website. your tips are wonderful and encouraging. About seven months ago I purchased a “Pin and Press” table. It was a little spending and I have a very small sewing area. I put it parallel to my sewing table and it works like a charm. It is the exact height of my sewing table. I highly recommend purchasing one if you do not have a large sewing room. I also keep several used dryer sheets so I can clean my iron plate. I never have a dirty iron plate after starting to use this tip.


September 7, 2013 #

Love your comment about staring into space, or getting distracted when going to iron.
I make home interiors for a living, and this is a problem!
As for a large table, I have a duel table, padded and covered with canvas or has been covered with various print fabrics for fun. But this one is large enough to iron and still hae a place set up with rotary mat for,cutting, and underneath hash a shelf for storage. Once you get rid of your ironing board, you will never go,back