Essential pressing tools for quilting projects

The right pressing tools are essential for achieving crisp, professional results in your quilting projects. Here are some of my favorite pressing tools used for quilting.

iron and ironing board near window with fabric

Pressing is an important part of patchwork quilting, but the selection of tools we might need is often lower than our list of “must-have” quilting notions.

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Maybe because they’re not as exciting as some other types of sewing equipment and gadgets, but that doesn’t mean they should be overlooked or always relegated to the bottom of this list.

I invited Amy Ball to share some of her favorite pressing tools that she uses when quilting. In addition to Amy’s favorites, I’m also sharing a few of my own!

Best irons for quilting

Amy:

I don’t have a smart one (although I’d love one), but I’ve always preferred “full” sized irons to mini DIY irons.

For me, the most important features of my quilting iron are that it is nice and hot (but not too hot!), not too heavy (because then your arm doesn’t hurt after a lot of pressing!) and automatic adjustment . off (because I have trouble leaving it on even when I’m not using it!).

Melissa:

I’ve been through so many irons over the years. Right away, my favorite is my Oliso. I have arthritis, and it waxes and wanes on its own, which is a big help to me. This is my second Oliso, as my first burned unexpectedly.

iron on cutting mat with sewing notions

Most of the time it gets hot quickly, but mine has been leaking lately. To be honest, I’ve never had an iron that didn’t leak. I’m not sure this exists. Leaks are minimal and don’t happen often. I keep a towel handy in case of a leak. Just a note: the iron in the photo is not plugged in; I would never place a hot iron anywhere other than an ironing board.

I have a friend who just bought a Iron Chi and I love that !

Mini iron

Melissa:

I like to keep a mini iron on the table near my sewing machine. I don’t do all of my block pressing with this iron, as I’ve found it’s not as precise when working with larger seams.

However, I like to keep it nearby when creating half square triangles or creating blocks using the point and flip method. I also like to use it for basic paper piecing.

Olisio mini iron on cutting mat

I have the mini Oliso. I like everything except it doesn’t have an automatic shut-off. I believe they are developing a newer mini iron that has an auto shut-off, so check before you buy!

A felted wool pressing mat

I would highly recommend spending the extra money and getting a 100% wool rug; they are thicker and of better quality, which means they are more effective and last longer.

mini iron on wool rug

Wool pressing mat are a fantastic tool because the textured surface helps prevent the fabric from moving when you press, the felted wool absorbs heat so both sides of your quilt are pressed at the same time, and the seams and stitches sink into the soft surface for a cleaner pressing finish.

Pressing Spray

Amy:

Like wool rug, these make the pressing process easier because they relax the fabric, which helps smooth out wrinkles and create a cleaner seam.

There are many different brands, but I only use Flatter (from Soak). It’s starch-free and the scents are all clean and fresh; I find that most other brands have a pretty strong chemical-based scent (for me, anyway!), and I would prefer something a little lighter on my quilting tops and patchwork projects.

Sewing roller

close up of sewing roller

It’s a great little tool and, if I’m honest, much more effective than I originally thought. I would never only Use a sewing roller on a project, but it can be a great substitute for an iron if necessary. Seam rollers are especially useful for basic paper piecing.

Tailor’s clap

aerial shot of a wool pressing mat and a tailor's clapperboard

A tailor’s clapper is a wooden tool designed to help secure seams and create clean folds. It is used by placing it over the seam immediately after pressing to retain heat and moisture, resulting in cleaner seams.

Good ironing board

After many years of quilting, I finally invested in a very good ironing board (a reliable brand), and I love it. I’m tall and can lift it high enough to use it comfortably. It’s also a bit wider than a standard ironing board, which I love. It was an investment, but one I think was worth it considering the number of hours I spend per day pressing.

Do you have a favorite pressing tool that we didn’t include on our list? If so, let us know in the comments section.

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