When I first started quilting, my amazing husband built me a pressing board. It was a piece of wood with a layer of foil to reflect the heat back, covered with three layers of batting, and then topped with fabric that we stapled around the back of the board. I have three of them in different sizes and use them for very different reasons. One I take on retreats, one I use for pressing backing and full quilts, and a medium one I leave up all the time next to my sewing machine. I loved them. I thought they were the bomdiggidy, until I first used a wool pressing mat.
My first wool pressing mat was 14" x 14". I was hooked immediately. In my transition from pottery to quilting, I dabbled in wool felting, so I understand wool. My understanding of wool did not disappoint when starting to use this mat.
My Favorite Benefit
It is portable! You can roll it up and throw it in your collapsible wagon for retreats and quilt camp. I mean...what ironing board can do that?
It Presses Both Sides of the Fabric
Wool retains heat and releases it quickly because of its insulating super powers. That means that, like putting foil under the batting in my pressing board, it helps to press both sides of the fabric.
It is Completely Flat
The wool pressing mat is completely flat. My pressing board began to have craters like my current mattress does. The places I press the most dip in. Over the last four years, I have had to replace the fabric and batting a number of times to "refresh it." This gets expensive. The wool, because of its properties will remain flat.
It's Square & Rectangle
An ironing board is not the shape of a quilt or quilt block. It drove me nuts that I could never equally press a strip of my fabric because of the point on the ironing board. They are made for garments, not quilts. This is why my husband build me a pressing board. The pressing mat fits this need wonderfully.
The wool fibers are textured and natural and will grab your fabric without snagging it. Your fabric won't slip all over your pressing mat.
It is an Investment
The cost of a board, foil, batting and fabric adds up. Especially after considering it needs to be refreshed and replaced over time, so the single purchase of the pressing mat balances out when all that additional expense is considered. The large wool pressing mat is one of the most important investments I have made for my studio. I also still love my small 14" square pressing mat for taking on retreats and keeping right next to my machine when paper piecing.
When I started with my 14" square pressing mat, I was disappointed I couldn't get one that would fit on my large 24" x 48" plastic folding table that held my large pressing board. That is NO longer the case. As of now, Jittery Wings carries an extra large wool pressing mat to fit this need. I can press an entire width of fabric on this mat.