A couple of years ago, I started searching around to buy a good blocking board. Unfortunately, the only ones I could find had to be shipped from the States and were extortionately priced.
This urged me to find a way to make my own blocking board which turned out to cost virtually nothing. Since then, I have made a couple of them in various sizes and shown a few crocheting friends how to make them too.
Today, I'm going to share how to make your own blocking board and why blocking is so important.
You will need :
A pair of scissors
A staple gun
A piece of white polystyrene insulation board
A piece of 2mm chipboard/hardboard
(I used the type with one side white for extra neatness)
A piece of 1cm square cotton gingham fabric
(a light colour works best)
A plant sprayer filled with cold water
4 packs of Stainless Steel Pins
(must be stainless steel to avoid rusting)
To make your blocking board, cut a piece of white polystyrene insulation board to the size you would like your blocking board to be. I bought mine from a local DIY store and they were 1m x 60cm so I kept mine un-cut. Cut the chipboard/hardboard to exactly the same size as the polystyrene. Most DIY stores will cut this for you for free of charge.
Cut your fabric large enough to be able to wrap around the polystyrene with around 5cm on the back.
Next, place your fabric face down on the floor, place your insulation board on top of it trying to carefully ensure it lies straight with the squares on the fabric. Then place the hardboard on top of the insulation board.
Now, carefully wrap and staple the fabric onto the back side of the chipboard, encasing and sandwiching the polystyrene between the fabric and the chipboard. As you staple, gently stretch the fabric, all the time making sure it lies straight and fold the rough edges under before each staple goes in.
Why is blocking so important?
Blocking 'fixes' your work. It stretches out the stitches to make the work more 'open', so that the individual stitches and pattern can be seen, fixing the shape of your piece. When using several pieces the same shape (like granny squares) blocking helps to ensure that each and every piece is exactly the same size. It sharpens the corners to make them more pointed and flattens the piece. Blocking only needs to be done once, as when the project is complete, even when washed it will return to this blocked size/shape naturally.
Here is a visual example of what blocking does :
Blocking is a little time consuming, so I generally 'block on the go'. This means that when I have a pile of 10-15 pieces finished, I block them and allow them to dry whilst I crochet the next lot.
I really do think blocking is worth the time and effort as when a project is complete it drapes beautifully and lies flat with no lumps or bumps. It really makes the difference between a project looking 'homemade' and having that slightly more 'professional handmade' finish.
My oldest blocking board is now about 2 years old, very well used and still going strong. I'm not sure how long the polystyrene will hold up, but it is easy and cheap enough to replace should it start to deteriorate.
As you can see from the photos I have a light pink and a dark pink blocking board, I tend to find that the lighter colour is easiest to work on.
My blocking board is now 3.5 years old and still going strong! I've since made another one which I can but-up against this one for larger projects.
Because they are sturdy on the back, they can be stood up against a window or wall (out of the way and not taking up floor space), I tend to stand mine in my greenhouse on a warm day for super fast drying or close to a radiator on a cold day!
I have a couple of friends who have made these who have cats, they find them perfect for standing against a wall, as if they block anything on the floor or a table the cat sits on it! I guess this would also help for anyone with little people in the house, the blocking could be left high up out of reach (ontop of a piece of furniture).
The ability to vertical block also helps with drying time as any extra water drains quickly from the board. I tend to give my board a couple bumps on the ground to get rid of excess water before leaving it in a corner to dry.
The board stores perfectly under a bed, sofa or down the side of a wardrobe when not in use!
Tip : Buy LOTS of Stainless Steel pins, you'll need them!
Tip : In summer, instead of using a plant sprayer, I have a 'mist head' on my hose pipe. I simply take my blocking board into the garden and mist it with the hose pipe. This cuts down in time dramatically as it's sprayed in seconds!
Let me know if you make your own blocking board, I'd love to hear from you!