Mission! Complete: Pressing Equipment

Nerdy Husband and I share a love of excursions, any excuse to get out of the house is always welcomed. Generally these excursions fall under some common categories you will be familiar with, such as “Lovey-Dovey-Couple-Stuff” (movies, dinners and the like) and “Boring-Everyday-Stuff” (food shopping, going to work etc) but by far our favourite excursion types are “Adventures!” and “Missions!”. These are pronounced with the exclamation mark on the end and while sometimes planned and sometimes spontaneous they don’t always pan out as expected.

Adventures! are pretty obvious: we go out for the day somewhere we haven’t been before or for a long time, not difficult when you have been living elsewhere for 6 years, and explore. We had several Adventures! these holidays, my favourite being our walk on the eastern side of Wellington Harbour from Eastbourne towards Pencarrow Head.

As you can see it was an amazing day. We didn’t quite make it as far as the lighthouse but next time we will take our bikes and get there for sure. We returned to Days Bay for the obligatory Fish and Chips lunch on the beach.

Now on the other hand Missions! are a bit more random and generally involve some sort of DIY. They have a higher failure rate than Adventures! but we enjoy them all the same. We do pull off some good ones occasionally though, evidence A and evidence B, of two recent sewing related Missions!

Near the end of our holidays I decided it was time for another me-initiated Mission! and I knew Nerdy Husband would enjoy this one since it would involve multiple power tools.

But first some background: I don’t tend to make official New Years Resolutions, why add all that pressure to the year ahead? (I will be looking back on my 2011 Sewing Year as I did last year for our mutual amusement soon – we’ll see how my 2011 “resolutions” went). This year I do want to spend more effort in the finishing of my garments in order to finally crack that elusive rtw look, which we all know is the antithesis of the “home-made” look. A big part of achieving this is good pressing, something I am pretty good at but I still need a bit of help in the form of some sewing gadgets and I love a good sewing gadget!

The first of these new gadgets was to be a sleeve board. I discovered while making my Gok coat the difficulty of pressing long sleeve seams without one means I am always creating two outer creases that can be hard to remove later on. A rolled up towel will only suffice for so long therefore a sleeve board has been on the menu since then.

The other item I am not so sure about but since I was going to the effort of making a sleeve board I figured I would make one of these at the same time.

It’s this:

Weird looking huh? It’s called a Pressing Board. You know those odd times when you can’t quite get to an area to press? Or when you are pressing a curved seam on your flat ironing board and it just doesn’t work? That’s what one of these is for and there has been the odd time when I’ve thought I could really use it.

So, let’s get on with it:

Pressing Equipment Tutorial


  • Length of timber

I am using 1800 x 300 x 18mm (180 x 30 x 1.8cm or about 71 x 12 x 3/4 inches) thick Hardy Panel MDF acquired from Bunnings Warehouse . I should really be using a 25mm thick hard wood but since this is my first attempt I am going for cheap and then if it all works out and I use these items enough I will remake in a more suitable material – Total $11.18*

Take along your template pieces to test out which sized board is good for you, I ended up only using 2/3 of this board so the real cost is actually $7.45

  • Felt Ironing Board Underlay

From my “favourite” store: Spotlight, $14.99 but I got a 20% discount so only paid $12.00

  • Fabric for covering the sleeve board

I used scraps of Ikea Canvas from this skirt project: FREE PATTERN ALERT! Ikea canvas is an excellent hard wearing choice for ironing board and chair covers.

  • Elastic or cord to secure the cover
  • 8 Wood Screws

I used a brass 8G x 50mm – about $10

  • Handy Husband (or similar) preferably who enjoys power tools (this shouldn’t be a difficult find)
  • Jigsaw with wood blade (or coping saw but that will take you ages and be quite painful!)

  • Power/detail/palm/mouse sander (or old fashion sand paper and sanding block, see note re: Jigsaw)

  • Drill & drill bits, counter sink bit
  • Screwdriver
  • Eye protection and dust mask

You should always protect your eyes when using any kind of power tool (even if you wear glasses normally) and to prevent breathing in any dusk while cutting and sanding wear an appropriate dust mask over your mouth and nose

*These prices are in NZD$


For the Pressing Board I started to make my own based on one I saw in a shop but then I found this pattern: CT-MMB-214. Download it and print it out at 200%.

For the Sleeve Board I started from scratch based on images online, it is 8 A4 pages that you need to print (no scaling) and tape together. The last page contains a 10cm x 10cm scaled square for you to check your printers settings, I suggest you print this page first and adjust your printer accordingly.

thecuriouskiwi_sleeve board template

This is how I made my original pattern, old school, but don’t worry, I got AutoCAD working and you’ll find a much prettier pattern in the link above.

Method (to the madness):

Print out your patterns and transfer the outlines to your board. Because I was making it up as I went along I drew my sleeve board directly onto my timber using my trusty high-school compass set and a really long ruler. For the pressing board I used carbon paper underneath and drew over the top but you could also just scribble on the back with a heavy pencil (4B?) then draw over the top to transfer the lead to your timber.

Keep in mind that holes marked on the pressing board pattern are for 1 inch/25mm/2.5cm thick board so you should adjust these to suit if your board is thinner like mine.

Now, grab your jigsaw or coping saw and cut them all out.

Remember to wear your eye protection and dust mask for all cutting and sanding.

Some of the curves and vertices are quite tight and you may need to approach them in different ways and from several angles to get the final shape.

Helpful-powertool-Husband did an excellent job of following my lines, I suspect he was also very good at colouring in when he was younger, so I did not need to do very much corrective sanding. Mostly I just took of the sharpness of edges and the slight burning that can appear on the tighter curves due to the heat of the blade.

Sanding was the part of this Mission! that I was dreading, I hate hand sanding! But lucky for me power tools and the like materialise in Nerdy Husband’s garage in much the same way as fabric and patterns appear in my sewing room, by magic. Ours is not to question how, instead we acquire them for our own purposes.

Once you have taken off all the sharp edges and have the pieces to your liking it’s time to mark your drill holes.

To limit the risk of splitting the wood and also to make sure we can keep the screws straight we are going to drill pilot holes first and then hand screw our pieces together. You should also counter sink the holes so that the screw head will sit flush with the wood.

If you don’t have a specialised counter-sinking bit you can also use a drill bit that is the same size as your screw head and just drill and very shallow hole on top of your pilot hole.

Drilling the pilot holes – use a bit slightly smaller than your actual screw diameter

Pilot holes and counter-sinking done

Assemble your sleeve board by attaching the upper board to the support and then attach the lower board next. Assemble your pressing board as per the pdf instructions. Scroll down to the next two images to see the finished products for more guidance.


The pressing board is complete now, except that as I write this I realise I was supposed to bring the two pointy ends to a real point, on all 3 sides, like in this image. Ok, I’ll do that next weekend 😉 You can use this board on either side and at either end to achieve the perfect press. You can also press tighter curves on the support piece.

You use both sides of the sleeve board also, the pointy side for sleeves and the squarer side for trousers, but it still needs a little bit more work. Next we will cut the felt and make a cover for both sides.

To cut out the felt I drew around both sides of my sleeve board, then I added 2cm to allow for the thickness of the wood because I want the felt to wrap over the edge.

Do the same to make your cover but this time add 8cm all around.

If you are wondering how I got 8cm, well, I just made it up, but you might need to adjust this number if your wood is a different thickness to mine so here is what I based it on:

  • Thickness of the board: 2cm (rounded up)
  • Thickness of the felt: 0.5cm
  • Elastic/drawstring casing: 1cm + 1cm
  • A bit to wrap underneath: 3.5cm (I could have said 4cm but I like a nice round total)
2 + 0.5 + 1 + 1 + 3.5 = 8cm

Next we create the casing to thread our elastic or cord through so we can gather the cover over our felt and timber. It’s pretty simple, simply fold the outside edge, all the way around, over by 1cm, then repeat.

Press and pin and then stitch close to the inside edge of the fold, remember to leave a small opening at one end so you can thread in your elastic or cord.

Now take your elastic or cord the thread it through using a bodkin or safety pin. I am using cord because the Ikea canvas is too thick for elastic.

Actually what I am really using is called “fancy twine”, funny, but it’s strong and this puppy is going to need some serious gathering if I want it to sit flat and tight to my board.

Place your sleeve board centred on top of your felt, then onto your cover.

If you are using elastic you will need to stitch one end in place then stretch your elastic to get the right fit before stitching the other end secure. It might take you a couple of goes to get the right fit so secure the free end with a safety pin as you test it to save you unpicking it 5 times 😉

For using cord just start pulling and gathering the cover over the board until you are happy with the fit, then tie off and cut the ends, tuck them under out of sight.

Repeat for the other side 🙂

In the end I think my canvas choice was a little too thick for such a small object so I had to give it some help to achieve a better fit. But, hey, first attempt right? I am really happy with how they turned out! 🙂

If you make one too based on my tutorial please link back here and let me know how it went, I’d love to see your versions.

Approximate cost:

Timber: $7.45
Felt: $12.00
Screws $10.00
Fabric $0.00 (scraps)
Cord $0.00 (scraps)
Husband’s help: Roast chicken dinner

Total: $29.45

IMPORTANT: This work is my creation and my intellectual property, protected under a Creative Commons license. You may not use it for any commercial purposes, claim it as your own, or resell it.

Creative Commons License
The Curious Kiwi Sleeve Board Template by thecuriouskiwi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

51 thoughts on “Mission! Complete: Pressing Equipment

  1. Thank you so much for the detail in making this! I tried to click on the pattern you have listed but it is no longer available. Is there anyway that you could send me a copy of the pattern to my email address? I had one of these for years but when I closed up my home to take care of my daddy it seems to have disappeared. Thank you so much in advance for your help!

  2. Thanks so much for your detailed post and for the patterns. My hubby and I are working on these now and using MDF board. I’ve been sewing 40 yrs. without these helpers!!! Looking forward to using them both. Thanks again.

  3. I’m so jealous 🙂

    My husband has nothing materializing anywhere, because he’s a computer programmer. I would have to do all the woodwork myself (I actually would if I had the tools, which I don’t).

    Thanks for the detailed information, perhaps I can find a friend’s husband who has stuff materializing 🙂

  4. Great job on both of these. Strange question, did you ever make a cover for the Tailor Pressing Board? I picked up one at an estate sale, and the cover could really use being replaced. I also picked up the sleeve one like yours at the same time, that covers was totally shot.

  5. Olá! Gostei muito deste poste! Vou produzir também os acessórios de passadoria de acordo com os moldes desta publicação! Estou muito feliz pois desejava um post como esse há muito tempo!! Muito obrigado por compartilhar suas ideias! Parabéns pelo trabalho!

  6. Hi Curious kiwi, thank you so much for this free sleeve ironing board pattern, my husband and I made it together and I have already used it in 3 projects, I don’t know how I have made all these garments over the years without it!

  7. Thanks so much for the sleeve board tutorial…a few years ago I bought an old sleeve board that was in great shape but, it was missing a cover… I was very happy to find your instructions…Thanks again! 🙂

  8. This is just what I’ve been looking for, thanks!

    I’m curious to know how your MDF board fared with the steam. Did you end up remaking in some hard wood like you said you would if it went according to plan?

    • Hi Kate 🙂 Actually I have not remade this yet. To be honest I don’t use it a lot so it’s held up well enough. I use the sleeve board the most and what I need to make now is a clapper which I think I will make out of pine or other dense timber to give it some good weight.

  9. Pingback: pressing matters | thornberry

  10. Thanks for posting this. I found this through a search for making my own sleeve board which led me to Burda then to you. I’m definitely going to give this a try.

  11. HOLAAA! No se por donde empezar para agradecer este excelente trabajo hace mucho tiempo eh estado buscando hacer este instrumento pero no se como ¡ pero ahora ya no hay pretexto; me estoy animando a usar las herramientas de mi marido jijiji¡¡¡ de verdad mil gracias por compartir este excelente tutorial muchas bendiciones ¡ Saludos desde Mexico!

    atte: Veronica

  12. Thank you so much for all the information and the pattern for the sleeve board. My husband just finished making me a sleeve board and I’ve got it covered and ready for use.

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  15. ‘But lucky for me power tools and the like materialise in Nerdy Husband’s garage in much the same way as fabric and patterns appear in my sewing room, by magic. Ours is not to question how, instead we acquire them for our own purposes.’

    The same thing happens in our house – only car parts and cars materialise as well!

    Great tutorial I will have to give it a go!

    • Thanks Claire, it was a fun project. You make an excellent point too, I didn’t know that MDF dust could be carcinogenic but we did wear eye protection and masks so we wouldn’t breath any in but I forgot to write it in my post, I will edit it in now.

  16. This reminds me that my woodworking-enthusiast dad made my mother a tailoring board like yours, probably before I was born (so 40 years or so ago). I don’t know where he got the pattern for all those shapes. I can appreciate how useful one would be, but I refuse to buy one since I plan on eventually (but not too soon I hope!) inheriting hers.

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