A Wool Pressing Mat – Is it Worth It?
The more time we spend quilting, the more gadgets and tools we come across. It’s very tempting to jump on the latest trend, but if you are like us, you don’t have a never ending bank account. With this in mind, we are going to be reviewing and showing you an assortment of quilting tools throughout the year so you can decide what ones are best for you! Any specific tools you want us to test? Send us an email and we’ll look into it. We can’t guarantee we’ll test every tool but we will do our best.
Last year, wool pressing mats became very popular. While they’ve been around for a long time, they seemed to gain popularity very quickly during 2020. I had never even heard of one prior to a couple years ago. We’ve had one on our list of things to try for a while, but hadn’t gotten around to actually buying one. Luckily for us, my mom needed an idea for Missy for Christmas and a wool pressing mat was the perfect item! Now we have one and we can test if it actually makes a difference.
So, why a wool cutting mat and are they worth it? We’ll show you exactly what a wool pressing mat does, compare it to a regular ironing board, and give you tips on how to get one for less.
What is a Wool Pressing Mat?
First, what is a wool pressing mat? It is actually very simple. It’s a mat, usually square or rectangle made of 100% wool. You can get them in all sorts of sizes from a few inches to a few feet. There are lots of different brands, but ultimately they all simply include wool.
Why Use a Wool Pressing Mat?
So, why use a wool pressing mat? What does it do?
A wool pressing mat absorbs the heat as you press your quilt blocks. As it absorbs the heat, it then reflects it back onto your piece from the bottom side while you are adding heat from the top with the iron. Essentially, by using a wool pressing mat, you are ironing from both sides of the block at the same time. This allows for a flatter press and more precise seams.
Does a Wool Pressing Mat make a difference?
So, after all that, does it actually make a difference and is a wool pressing mat worth it? In the video, we put together 2 different blocks and pressed one set with our regular board and the second set we used the wool pressing mat. We opted for blocks that would end up with more bulk to really test the limits of the wool pressing mat so we could see what the differences would be.
Our conclusion? Yes! The wool pressing mat is a tool that is absolutely worth it. The block that we pressed on the wool mat laid flatter and smoother from the beginning. The more seams we added, the bigger difference we noticed.
What Size of Wool Pressing Mat do I Need?
There is a huge assortment of different wool pressing mats available and it can be hard to determine what size you might need. To decide, you first need to ask yourself how you intend to use it. Oftentimes, quilters will buy a wool pressing mat to use as a portable pressing surface (just keep in mind you’ll want to place it on a heat resistant surface as the heat goes through the mat). If you want one for this use, a smaller mat will usually suffice.
If you are looking for a mat to use in your studio or on your regular ironing board for all your quilt pressing purposes (which we highly recommend), you’ll want the biggest wool pressing mat you can afford. That leads us to the next questions.
Where Can I Get a Wool Pressing Mat for Cheap?
A large wool pressing mat marketed to quilters is not going to be cheap. With all the other things we spend our money on, it can often stretch the budget a little too much to try and buy a large mat for bigger blocks or entire quilt tops. As we were researching options and trying to find the right one, we came across a recommendation of using a saddle pads! Saddle pads are 100% wool mats that are used between the saddle and the horse. They are usually about 2-3 feet and cost a fraction of the price of a smaller wool mat made specifically for quilters. When we were looking at the reviews on the mats, we noticed that the majority of the reviews were from quilters! We figured this was a good testament to the versatility of this mat and are so glad we bought one. The large size means that almost our entire ironing board is covered and we aren’t limited on block size. It makes it much easier to press an entire quilt as well. The saddle pad cost less than $30 and could easily be cut into smaller pieces if you are looking for a smaller size or want to share with a quilting friend. You can find them many places, we got this one: Wool Saddle Pad.
How to Use a Wool Pressing Mat
You use a wool pressing mat just as you would your ironing board or other ironing surface. You do need to be mindful of what you are ironing on as the mat will transfer heat to the surface it is placed on. We like to simply put it on top of our ironing board for now and will be building an ironing surface later that more closely matches the large size.
When you press your pieces, follow the same steps as you would without the mat. You can use steam as well. We have heard complaints of a slight odor when using steam on your mat. Some brands tend to smell more than others. This is due to the nature of the natural fibers and shouldn’t be a lasting issue with your quilt.
If you have been considering a wool pressing mat, we definitely say go for it! If you are struggling to get nice points and flat seams, they can make a noticeable difference and just might be the help you need! They aren’t a miracle tool, but a wool pressing mat is a definite positive addition to your quilting space and an item we are sure will get lots of use!
Kimie and Missy