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Victorian Ironing Boards


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I have a modern ironing board that I would like to convert to a Victorian era ironing board but I am having a little trouble figuring out how to do it.

The ironing board I have has a cushion cover on it and the pictures I have seen on Google of antique Victorian boards do not have any cover on them at all. It's just a plain wood board with some painted decorations on top.

So my question is, did all Victorian ironing boards not have a cover? I've only been able to find two pictures so before I remove the cover on this mini board, I want to make sure I'm not messing up...:) I prefer not having the cover on it, to make it look old and different, so I'm hoping this is true of Victorian boards.

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You piqued my interest; humorously enough when I googled "victorian ironing boards" this chat forum was the first hit. Great google-ability Greenleaf!

Anyway, this link suggests they may have covered their boards a white wool or red flannel ironing sheet. However, I would think this would just be drapped on the board, and not a modern style cover that clung to the board.

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Anyway, this link suggests they may have covered their boards a white wool or red flannel ironing sheet.

This link is a fabulous one. It is loaded with great info for historical accuracy.

Thanks for posting it.

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A lot of people back then didn't even have ironing boards and did their ironing on the kitchen table. They did cover them with a sheet or something similar. I remember my grandmother's wooden ironing board. She was "old" by the time that she taught me to sew on her treadle machine(which I still have).

Anyway, she always covered it with an old flannel sheet just the way the generations before her did. She fastened them on with the new fangled safety pins...Very modern. I don't have her ironing board, but I do have one of her old cast iron, irons. I can't imagine using an iron that you had to have a wadded up towel just to protect your hand while in use... And to boot, heating it up on the stove. Scary!

I just went and looked for history of ironing boards...Interesting page. I am going to look at a lot of the other information included. http://www.oldandinteresting.com/history-ironing-boards.aspx Oops, I see that this is the same one that Kathryn recommended. Anyway, here it is again...LOL

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Thanks for info! I took off the padding on mines and stained it a dark color, it was like raw wood before. I wish I could find more detailed pictures of the designs on top of the boards but I'll just make my own.

I also painted the iron charcoal since the page everyone suggested talked about the Mrs. Potts patented irons. I think its going to turn out pretty all right once I'm done. Now I'll have to find a piece of flannel I can place over it.

I'll take pictures once its all finished.

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From what I've read, the ironing board as we know it, with the folding legs, evolved some time in the 1890's. Someone had invented at least one board with folding legs before that, but they didn't look anything like the ones we're accustomed to.

I doubt they decorated them, but if the housewife who owned one was artistic, and had free time, she might have painted a decoration on the board just for the heck of it.

I don't think there were any fitted ironing board covers before the invention of standardized metal ironing boards. Before the invention of the cheap folding ironing board, people would have made their own boards, or paid someone to cut and sand a board for them, so they'd have been all different shapes and sizes. They'd have just laid down some felt padding or a blanket, with maybe a piece of sheeting over it.

There were also irons that you filled with hot coals so you didn't have to heat the iron on the stove. Actually, you'd have at least 2 "sad" irons, so you could iron with one, while the other one was heating. They didn't stay hot all that long, you'd have to keep rotating them. The reason they were called sad irons was because of the kind of iron that was used to make them, it was extra heavy. The advantage of the coal filled iron was that you didn't have to leave them on the stove to heat for a long time. The coals would keep the metal hot longer.

I've got miniature coal irons on order. Actually, have had them on order for over a month now, but they still haven't come in yet.

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I cringe at my mother's stories of her mother starching and ironing bedsheets,pillowcases,dish towels,and underwear,not to mention starching my uncle's jeans so stiffly they would stand up on their own.....yikes! She has Grandma's old irons on display in her china cabinet now. Give me my good old electric clothes dryer and a damp cloth any day and it takes out enough wrinkles to suite my uber-casual style!

But good for the Victorians that they had such inventive things as an iron that held coals in it to keep it hot!

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starching my uncle's jeans so stiffly they would stand up on their own

OMG!!!!!! Early in our marriage DH said to me, "Don't you starch the jeans?" :yikes:

Further in the discussion, I recall asking, "Wouldn't starched underwear be uncomfortable?" DH didn't know, as he wore briefs.

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The only sets of DH's skivvies that were starched and ironed were the ones for his inspections. Nothing like the aroma of toasting laundry starch! Now when I drag out the ironing board it's to block needlework.

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Well,Judith,it was a good long time ago-my uncle would've been 83 this week,had he lived past age 23 (car accident). I used to think Mom was teasing about this when I was little,but she said he wanted them just as stiff as Grandma could get them and she sure did it!lol I will have to ask Mom if Grandma did or didn't have an ironing board,but I know she heated the irons on their wood stove,as my mother grew up without electricity. Imagine that-yikes! (Well,I know some of you can.)

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No, Wolfie is Gina, a dollmaker whose work has been featured in the past in Miniature Collector magazine. Due to the real life issues we all have to deal with from time to time she is probably filling backorders. And she's Kathie's and my age.

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