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Ironing boards and pressing tools

loomchick | Posted in General Discussion on

I’m in search of the “ideal” ironing board cover . . . I seem to get ones that don’t allow fabric to slide easily across the surface or quickly look dirty.

Also, why is it so difficult to find pressing tools (e.g., tailor boards, clappers, etc.)? I can find these items on the Internet, but I’m surprised that I can’t find them where I live (Seattle, WA) . . . Do that few people press items?


  1. MegVT | | #1

    I've got an ironing board cover made from the material used for race car driver's fireproof suits.  I got it from a vendor at the Vermont Quilt Festival a few years back.  It's waaay slippery - I know that some folks do not like how slippy it is.  It was about $38 and I almost didn't purchase it but I'm SO glad I did.  You may use less heat from your iron, and your pressing and ironing require less effort.  It's a miracle (well, almost!). 

    I don't remember the name of the vendor.  But, the VQF is this weekend, and surely that vendor will be there.  I'll make a mental note to get the information and post it for you.

    As for the pressing hams and other tools, don't JoAnn's fabric stores still carry that stuff?  I purchased mine at an Audrey Childress sewing show; who's daughter began a thread on this site yesterday!


    1. DONNAKAYE | | #3

      I intended to send this message to Loomchick but sent it to Meg instead:

      My mother, Audrey Childress, a Bishop Method instructor trainer, manufactured and marketed these items herself. Since she passed away in '96, they are no longer available to the general public. If I were to get enough interest, I would go back to manufacturing these products and marketing them again. I may have a few left in the warehouse that I can look for you.  The pressing "ham" (she preferred "cushion") and sleeve roll are smaller and a little softer than the ones you normally find at fabric stores and the like. She also marketed a birchwood point creaser/turner; a point presser/pounder; and a pants board, which you can use to work with pants. She also manufactured and marketed press cloths (cotton, wool and see-through), Fray Check, Need-L-Lube, and a few other items.  Anyone interested?

      Meg, what class of Audrey's did you attend where you got the merchandise?

      Donna Childress Brandt


      Edited 6/23/2005 2:39 pm ET by DONNAKAYE

      Edited 6/23/2005 3:04 pm ET by DONNAKAYE

      1. stitchwiz | | #4


        I was thrilled to see your post.  I am interested in several products that you may still have from your mothers old stock.  Would you consider putting together a list of your inventory and how much each item would cost?  or perhaps a photo inventory that we could view on a web page?

        I love using quality tools and equipment and I need to replace quite a few items due to a burglary - why couldn't they just leave things alone if they don't know what they are?  Sorrry, I'm rambling/venting - a lot of items that I have used for years are damaged beyond repair and I keep finding more things missing or broken as I go along. 

        I went to school in the Philadelphia area for 4 years in the early 70's and aquired a large assortment of tools while I lived there, your mother's name is familiar so I wouldn't be surprised if I had some of her products.  I just know I would recognize them if I saw them. 

        I live in Canada so I will be paying duty.  My sister lives on the east coast and would be happy to bring things up with her on a visit so that could cut down on shipping costs.   Since we are planning a family reunion this August, she will be coming at the end of July.

        Does that give you enough time?  If not, don't worry, I'll just pay to ship.  I am probably over eager because I'm excited at the prospect that it may be possible to replace what I had.

        Thank you for considering this.  I hope that there is enough interest to make all this worthwhile.

        Good Luck!

        1. edgy | | #5

          Nancy's Notions has the hams and I'm not sure what else -- probably a small pressing board like for sleeves or pants.nancy

        2. DONNAKAYE | | #9

          I will be looking into your request this week.  I've got to get in my warehouse to do that.  (Yes, mother's equipment and tools required a warehouse. My sewing studio is 15x30 and stuffed full as well.)  In the event I do not have any items left (which is quite likely), my husband is planning on making some prototypes of the products since the old vendors are no longer available to me or out of business. I will try my best to see that you are first on the list to get the prototypes if you wish. As for a photo, I will go to my brother's house nearby and have  him take photos as soon as I get a chance. In my real life I am a court reporter and it sometimes gets in the way of my sewing mania.....Donna


          1. stitchwiz | | #10

            Thank you for your reply.  I also have another very busy life.  In my case, I am very actively involved with little theatre.  Our little theatre group owns our own theatre which we try to keep busy most of the year.  I'm the Box Office Admin as well as wearing many other hats on a volunteer basis, of course.   Our Wardrobe Mistress is a very feisty, opinionated, 70+ gal who has forgotten more about costuming than all the rest of us put together know.  She has decided that I'm "ok" to fill in for her when she leaves the country for 2 months this summer.  I never have enough time in a day as it is, and now I have Wardrobe to contend with too...How did I ever have time to help run our family business?...

            There is no real rush for me to replace everything immediately because we have just purchased a "new" 125 year old home.  We won't take possession until Sept and we have some intensive renovations to do before we move in.  With our daughter getting married in Oct, (dress done) I don't anticipate getting into any other major projects for a while.  Sewing will be on the back burner, at home anyway.

            The sewing equipment etc that was damaged was in a locked steel building along with most of our family possessions while we were looking for our new home.  It used to fill my 26x32 sewing room to overflowing. I have been making do with bare bones basics for a while.  We went through everything and repacked it, so I have a good idea of what I need.  It was very hard letting go of so much.  I decided to find the positive in all of this - I can buy exactly what I want this time, both in my sewing life as well as my personal life.

            Thank you for keeping me posted...try and enjoy the process...

      2. MegVT | | #6

        O, my, that class was about 24 years ago.  Audrey taught a garment construction method and fitting class.  It was a lecture type class, not a hands-on class.  She covered pants fitting; I remember specifically that she (and a man who was with her, I think) had redrafted a pants pattern so that the back seam was on the straight of grain.  She spoke about pressing (versus ironing) and the tools to do a proper job.  I don't remember what the class was called, though.

        1. DONNAKAYE | | #7

          Yes!  The gentleman was Mr. Ray.  I still have the pants slopers that they copyrighted.  I am considering having them re-printed and market them again....Will write more later....Donna


  2. Tess | | #2

    About the slick ironing board cover, I have used fabric from hot air balloons as a pressing cloth. I don't know that it would work as an ironing board cover, because it is water repellant so steam would not go through it.

    The stuff is so slick that you can spray paint on it, and when the paint is dry you can pick it up—not that it is very useful, but it's interesting. It takes heat from the iron well (remember, it has to stand up to the heat of flying the balloons!), and is easy to wipe clean. The material looks like rip-stop nylon, but has some more hi-tech coating than your average rip-stop.

    If you are interested, let me know.


  3. MegVT | | #8

    OK, I've gotten home from visiting VQF and white-gloving.  I picked up a flier about these great ironing board covers:

    Miracle Ironing Board Cover

    MeasureMatic Incorporated

    995 West K Street

    Benecia, CA  94510


    There's no telelphone number on the paper.  Covers are available to fit many different styles of ironing boards.  I bet the website shows what they've got, too.

    By the way, the quilt I entered into the Quilt Festival won a yellow/3rd place ribbon.  Not bad for a first try at entering this particular show!


  4. DONNAKAYE | | #11

    I ran across a softer tailor's "ham" in JoAnn's the other day, so it seems they have begun to carry those, for anyone who might be interested.  They also have a little collapsible "sleeve board."  For those of you who have written to me about the pants board my mother, Audrey Childress, marketed, it looks similar to that but bigger (and not collapsible) to accommodate pants....

    Donna Childress Brandt


    1. Sandy | | #12

      Hello all.  I am new to the discussion board and usually just lurk and gain from all the wonderful discussions.  Discussion regarding tools prompted me to write.  I recently acquired a 1940's era sleeve pressing board--handmade no less.  It cost $1 at an estate sale--no one knew what it was!

      I have recently retired and am getting back to sewing after being away for 20+ years.  So much has changed!  Thanks for sharing all your knowledge.


      1. DONNAKAYE | | #13

        Welcome back!  If there are any projects you are currently planning, please don't hesitate to ask.  My mother was a Certified Master Teacher Trainer in the Bishop Method of Clothing Construction for 40-plus years, and I can usually find notes and instructions for just about anything you will want to construct. Happy to help!

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