Monday, July 20, 2009

How to make a portable ironing station

Spring cleaning season may be over, but organizing is a year-long battle. I’m finally starting to get my sewing room/office into a shape I like, so this post is the first in a series on furniture hacks, storage ideas, vintage sewing space eye candy, and other stuff on creating a craft space. I love seeing these types of posts on other people’s blogs, so I hope you’ll get some ideas here too!

portable ironing station

When I started quilting, an iron and a board to use it on (now deceased) were all I needed. But the tools quickly accumulated—spray starch, pressing cloths, water bottles, iron cleaner, and so on. Never mind that I now use three different irons for distinct purposes. The sensible place to store such things is near where one irons, but one doesn’t always iron in a place with ample storage. This book points out that a conventional ironing board wastes space compared to, say, some cupboards with a pressing surface on top. Agreed, but the layout of my sewing room necessitates that the ironing board live in front of the design wall, so I want it portable enough to move easily when I’m laying out a big quilt on the wall. An Ikea hack keeps all my pressing accoutrements near my iron—and lets me easily move them to a secondary pressing surface near my sewing machine.

The base of my ironing trolley is Ikea’s Antonius laundry bag with stand, with casters added. The baskets on the stand fit spray bottles and other bits and bobs, and fabric waiting to be pressed goes in the laundry bag rather than into a big heap on my floor. I’m looking for a water bottle with some sort of nozzle that would fit in one of the baskets so I wouldn’t have to run to the sink so often when the iron runs out of steam.

iron plugs into power strip for easy access

Using a couple cable ties from Montera (a set of various cable clips and ties from Ikea; can’t find it on their site), I attached a power strip to one of the uprights so I can turn the iron on and off with a flick of a (lighted) switch rather than reaching awkwardly round furniture to unplug it. A couple self-stick nonslip pads on the back of the strip help keep it from sliding down. Someday I may come up with some more permanent hardware to mount the power strip, but this works for now. It helps to use a strip with a reasonably long cord so you can mount it on the front of the cart and still run the cord to the back.

ironing-board holder houses iron and pressing sheet

My primary iron lives in the in the iron rest on the ironing board, and the board is rarely put away, so this door-mounted rack for both iron and board wasn’t getting much use. I hung it from the end of the Antonius cart using a couple Bygel S-hooks, and now I keep my fusible-only iron there, along with a Teflon pressing sheet rolled up in the hooks meant to hold the ironing board. A cup (meant to hang on a rail; also apparently not on the Ikea site) facing the other way keeps the hooks from sliding together and gives a place for smaller stuff, like bias-tape makers and tubes of iron cleaner.

with removable pressing surface

As I mentioned, the whole thing unplugs, rolls over to my sewing machine, and becomes a secondary pressing surface at (more or less) sitting height by topping the unit with a mini ironing board. The corners of Antonius have holes for screws; after much fiddling about at the hardware store, I determined that they take size 10-32 screws. I put one in each hole, letting them stick out about ½" (you can see them sticking out two photos up). Then I measured the center-to-center distances between them (a 52.5cm × 23cm rectangle—it’s Ikea, so metric gives prettier numbers!) and made corresponding marks on the bottom of the ironing board. Mine was made from particle board, so I drilled holes big enough for the screw heads at each mark, about ¼" deep. Shake the sawdust out, line up the screw heads with the holes, and set it on the Antonius frame—it’s secure enough to iron on (using the mini iron I keep in the bottom basket) but still lifts off easily when it’s time to roll the trolley back to the main ironing board. I’m thinking about rigging up some hooks on the back of the unit to hang the mini ironing board from when it’s not in use; for now, I just stick it behind my sewing table.

I didn’t have any of this in mind when I bought the laundry stand, but now I use it with the mini board almost more than my real ironing board, since it means I can just swivel my chair from sewing to pressing.

Stay tuned for more sewing-oriented Ikea hacks!


Kacie R. said...

Wow, such a great idea and beautifully executed - it looks like you bought the whole system that way instead of piecing it together like you did. I'm excited to duplicate your efforts in my own sewing room! Yet another furniture miracle to look forward to when the Denver IKEA finally opens up. Thanks again!

casserole said...

WOW!! This is so cool! I wonder if it's a coincidence that we're heading to IKEA tomorrow. Is the universe trying to tell me that I need a portable ironing station??

I posted a link to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:


Kacie R. said...

Oops ... I failed to mention earlier that I also linked this up on the Quiltivate blog here.

Thanks yet again! :o)

Crystal said...

I am looking for the antonius laundry frame that is rectangular like yours, but I don't see it on the IKEA website or at the store. They only seem to have one that more square in width x depth.

Did you hack yours into that longer, rectangular shape?

Thanks for sharing such a great project!