cheap ironing table

20170413_084318I feel like I’m the last person on the face of the earth who uses a standard ironing board for quilting.  Until this week, I was having a hard time justifying a reason to replace it. After all, it’s definitely still functional – I just have to move the fabric frequently.  And most of the time I’m working on pieces and not yardage.  And then there’s the cost.  That was the big one to overcome – I didn’t want to have to shell out big bucks to have a big table made.  I was picking up the house one day this week and please tell me this happens to other people – I had a folding table that had been left in a corner so long that it blended in and I’d forgotten it was even there.

20170413_092549Aha!  It’s 72″ x 30″ (182x36cm) so it’s definitely larger than what I currently have. And best of all – it’s free since I already own it!  I’d seen enough of these to know the next step was to cover it with batting and then the heat resistant cloth. I didn’t have the last item, but one quick look on America’s largest online retailer and I realized 3 yards was only $8.  Cool! In a matter of minutes, I had it taped to the underside (in case it doesn’t work or I change my mind).  I set it up – and it’s quite a bit lower than I had before.  I put some music books underneath each leg but I’ll probably want to put something taller than that at some point.  But for now…it works great!

20170413_093215And here’s a quick look at the project I’m working on full-time for now. It doesn’t look like much yet, does it?  That’s a dress shirt that I’m cutting up into 2″ finished squares.  A friend of ours passed away in February unexpectedly.  His wife is also a quilter and she’s pretty much the greatest thing since sliced bread.  I asked her a few days after he passed away if she would like me to make a quilt out of his button down shirts.  Yes!  I went by her house a few weeks ago and we went through all of them and I brought a large stack home. I’m taking my time to maximize getting the most possible number of squares from each shirt. Eventually this will become a triple chain Irish quilt.

IMG_20170413_165807I finally sat down yesterday and drew out some feather examples to at least show how I make them.  There are lots of different ways to make them; this is just what’s easiest for me.  In this first example, I started in the bottom left-hand corner and drew a curvy line up to the right.  I like a bit of a curve because it forgives more mistakes but you can use a ruler, etc. and make it straight if you prefer.  I sew to the top, then make the very top center feather, and I sew back down. Rarely do I hit the original line exactly, which is okay because eventually there will be 4 lines.

IMG_20170413_165820The feathers are really a series of C’s.  The bottom of each feather is a C, and the top of the feather is a C and then there’s a hook which connects those 2.  Personally, that’s why I prefer on the first one to quilt that initial bottom C in; you’ll see lots of examples where other people make the first one bowed out instead of in but I like it this way.  I’m left-handed so I start on the left side of the stem. I quilt the bottom half of the first feather, curve up, and then back around in that C to the stem again.  Then for the second feather, I start at the stem, trace over the top half of the previous feather and continue up and over and back into the stem again for the second feather.

IMG_20170413_165834And so on.  Where the line curves is where you may want to adjust some feathers to make them larger or smaller. Generally when it curves away from that side, I’ll put in one or two smaller feathers, and then the one after that when it curves back again I’ll make it larger and fill up more space.  My preference on making feathers is to fill up the border, block, etc. and not necessarily to make them all the same size.  In fact, none of mine are ever the same size and I’m okay with that.  When I get the last one stitched at the top, I sew back down that stem again, and if I didn’t sew the 2nd line right on top of the 1st line, then I try to sew between them to fill the stem in – to make it look like I made it wider on purpose!

IMG_20170413_165901Now I’m at the bottom again and I follow that same pattern, just up the right side.  Now that I have this one finished in the last picture, I wish I had actually made those 2 smaller feathers on the left side a little longer, or at least made one of them longer because as it turns out, it didn’t fill the block.  I started to re-draw this before posting it, but thought it might be just as beneficial to show you an example of what didn’t work as well.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!


Here are a few more pictures of other ones I drew out including 2 where I started from the other corner.  I very nearly always start from the bottom or from the left whenever possible and not from the top or right if I can avoid it.

On the last quilt that I finished earlier this week, I did actually start from every side at some point to accommodate the flow of the pattern.  The reason why I try to start at a consistent place is to build up my experience faster from repeating it often so hopefully I’ll get better, faster.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. jay says:

    I like the feathers, they have a beautiful freehand look.

  2. Oh, no! You are definitely NOT the only one!! I surprise myself ANY time I go thru stuff!!
    I need to get some of the heat resistant fabric!!
    How wonderful to make your friend a quilt of memories!!

  3. Great post! Thanks for all the detail on the free motion quilting. It was a good idea to leave the “mistake” in there for us to learn from.

  4. Now I am the last person on the face of the earth to use a regular ironing board! I don’t have a lot more space for a larger one….will have to get creative!

  5. admcmasters says:

    I have absolutely surprised myself a few times by coming upon something I had stored behind a couch, under a bed, in the back of the closet until I had forgotten it. And everyone else has too if they will be honest with you. You may want to get a set of bed risers to put under your table. They are cheap, sturdy, and easy to obtain from the “nation;s largest online retailer.” Thanks for showing how to do the feathers. I think I could do a few if given the opportunity.

  6. Now that’s an ironing board!! I love it:). Waste not, want not is always the best answer! It’s very nice of you to make a quilt for your friend. She will cherish it.

  7. Hmmm! I have one of those tables folded in the garage…thanks!

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