Top of my Christmas wish list was a wool pressing mat. I hesitated however because I just wasn’t sure if I needed one. The price for wool isn’t cheap and I wanted to make sure this mat delivered the goods.
Well, we got them in the shop and one was placed in a classroom so I tried it out. Here is my Sewing Machine block before pressing on the wool mat.
And here is my block after.
Notice how it smoothed out all those gathers around the embroidery? Look how nice and flat it is now! And that’s without using any starch. Pretty impressive.
Always in Stitches (the quilt store where I work) has wool pressing mats in two sizes—8” and 17” square. They are expensive and it’s tempting to get the less expensive one but I decided if I got one it should be large enough to press an entire block so I got the 17” instead.
Online, some have reported that wool pressing mats smell but mine doesn’t. I mean I can smell wool like a wool sweater but it’s not overpowering or even noticeable after a few minutes. I’d stay away from the real cheap ones though because maybe they smell because the wool isn’t that clean.
The mat is firm (I love a firm ironing surface, don’t you?) and holds my block in place so I can get a good pressing. In addition, it holds heat like crazy so I’m really pressing my block from both sides at once. So cool!
If you get a wool pressing mat of your own, here are a few tips for using it:
Keep it clean. I would not spray starch on a block while it’s on the wool mat, because the wool fibers will absorb the starch. So I spray on my ironing board, then move the block to the mat.
Rinse in cool water If you have dirtied your wool mat, rinse it in cool water and hang it to let it air dry.
Watch out below First, do not put the wool pressing mat on your cutting mat. If you use steam, the steam will travel through the wool fibers and wet whatever’s underneath, so it’ll soak your cutting mat. Even if you don’t use steam, the heat may travel through the fibers and warp the cutting mat (you also know not to leave your cutting mat in your car on a hot day, don’t you?) My mat is 1/2” thick and the density seems to keep most of the heat from traveling through but still, I don’t want any heat on my cutting mat so I’m not going to use it there.
I planned to use the pressing mat on my ironing board because that seems the most convenient place, but it’s bigger than my ironing board and I don’t want it to warp so I’m using on a nearby table. I don’t use steam in my iron and instead simply squirt the block with my mister before ironing, but if I use steam I suppose I’ll put a towel under the mat to absorb the water and protect my table from getting soaked.
Block it out It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize you can pin your block to the mat to square it up if needed. Or any kind of fiber work, such as embroidery. How cool is that?
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