achievement unlocked: pressboard


well, here’s another little thing i made. jared & i have been using a small portable ironing board for the last several years (which can be seen tucked behind my cutting table in this photo). it’s kind of gross & small & warped from ramona sitting in it & pretending it’s a boat. using it to press yardage for garments is a pain in the ass. after i got my cutting table, it occurred to me i could make a larger pressboard!

so i did. i got a square of plywood from the hardware store, two feet square. this leaves some room along the side of the cutting table for the iron & whatever other things i have laying around. i covered it with a thrift store towel & covered that with quilting cotton. i tucked the raw edges of the quilting cotton under & used my staple gun to hold everything in place. voila!

i will mention that i considered actually buying terry cloth rather than using a towel. because i was at the fabric store before i went to goodwill, & i wasn’t sure how much terry cloth i would need & was worried the goodwill wouldn’t have any towels. i’m glad i resisted the urge, because terry cloth is surprisingly expensive, especially considering that the options at the fabric store were pretty low quality. i bought two large beach towels at the goodwill, very thick & fluffy, & only used about two-thirds of one. so this is a very economical project.

i’ve been using it for about a week now & i love it! it slides in next to my cutting table when not in use, & i made sure to purchase fairly lightweight plywood, so moving it around is no big deal. pressing on it is truly a pleasure.

i also bought a new iron. nothing fancy, just a black & decker, but it too is a joy to use. it’s a bit heavier than our old iron, which i like, & it has an automatic shut-off feature so i don’t have to stress about plugging & unplugging ten million times in the middle of a project (because you really have to press more than you sew to get a good outcome).

when i made that lady skater dress out of sweatshirt fleece last weekend, i mentioned that i melted one of the cuffs. well, i forgot about it, & two days later, jared went to press one of his oxford shirts for work & put a big black melted polyester mark on his collar. oops. he was pretty mad. i told him i’d clean the iron & try to get the mark off his shirt.

if this ever happens to you, here’s how to proceed: dampen the mark on the shirt & then freeze it. (i set a bag of frozen peas on it.) when it’s good & cold, scrape the mark off with the dull edge of a butter knife. this worked perfectly on a cotton button-down, but obviously would potentially destroy more delicate fabrics.

then i heated up the iron a bit & scraped off what black melted gunk i could with a wooden spatula. then i scrubbed it with a paste of water & baking soda. & then i scrubbed it some more with nail polish remover. (wait until the iron is 100% cold before taking nail polish remover to it.)

maybe this will work for you. i did get a lot of the gunk off this way, & my test pressing went well. i thought it was fixed. but when jared ironed his shirt the next morning, he got another black mess on it. back to the frozen peas.

i didn’t want to just continue this cycle forever, so i splashed out the $25 on a new iron. & from now on, i will always use a press cloth if i am not 100% certain of the fiber content of my fabrics.

i’m not sure what my next project will be. i feel like every project i do leads me down a rabbit hole to another new idea. last week i ordered some really cool-looking black-on-black ponte de roma i’m planning to use to make vogue 1411, some pants with really interesting seamlines. i feel somewhat hypocritical about this, because i recently went on a tear about how undignified it is to wear elastic-waist pants out of the house. but these looks really cool! not at all like the pants of a first grade teacher from 1983!

when i told jared about the fabric i was using, he said, “…& that was the last thing she sewed before she abandoned her family to follow cinderella on the ‘long cold winter’ tour.” har-di-har-har.

i also bought some black silk jersey, with the idea of making a t-shirt. but it’s really drape-y & sheer, so…there goes that idea. i was at a loss as to what to do with it, & then suddenly it was 85 degrees in lawrence (ugh–all the spider crickets are hatching) & i realized: a camisole & tap pants! perfect. i can also wear tap pants under big skirts so i have some modesty if my skirt blows up. why did this not occur to me a year ago?!

& i have some boiled wool with which i want to make a gored skirt, & some fuzzy glittery wool with which i hope to make a renfrew, adjusted to actually fit me. & i want to make a faux-moto jacket out of some leftover sweatshirt knit. & these are just garment projects (that are mainly wildly inappropriate for the weather)! i also have a whole list of quilt-y projects on board too.

jared is going off to a conference this week, so it’s going to be just me & ramona for five days. so it’s a real question mark how much sewing i will be getting done. i’ll probably just spend a lot of time collapsed on the couch with a book while she’s sleeping. she’s getting over another cold, which has been pretty tough on us. she screamed & cried hysterically for maybe 45 minutes today instead of eating lunch. i tried putting her in her crib several times & she shrieked & thrashed like she was being murdered. i gave her some water & sang some songs & tried again, & she snuggled up with her bunny & said, “want to be covered up? want the monkey blanket?” two minutes later she was asleep. who knows why she does these things? luckily, being a mom has led me to discover a seemingly bottomless well of patience i never knew i had. or maybe i just use all my patience with ramona & that’s why i am so hateful to the rest of the world.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

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