Friday, August 19, 2022

Alpaca Wool Pressing Mat

When Gail of QuiltingGail emailed me to ask if I would be interested in testing and reviewing a Canadian-made wool pressing mat, my hand flew up so fast I smacked myself in the jaw. I'd been hearing about wool mats for well over a year, and the hype intrigued me: did they really 'up' the pressing game? Well, if you follow me on Instagram @mmmquilts (one of these days I'll figure out how to get the Insta logo back on my sidebar), then you know I am very much in love with my Prairie Spirit Alpacas mat and use it every time I'm pressing, whether it's pressing fabric prior to cutting, setting seams, or pressing binding. It's a dynamite mat.
One of the first things that impressed me besides the fact that these mats are 100% Canadian, was that this was how it arrived when I took it out of the envelope. No wasteful plastic wrap, just this pretty reusable ribbon and a small paper card. Plastic-free products are totally do-able!

100% Canadian. Since Covid, buying local and buying products made within one's country have become much more important to consumers. These mats are from alpacas who live on a farm in Millarville, Alberta, in the foothills of the Rockies southwest of Calgary. Look at the photo at the end of this post. Talk about idyllic country. And yes, I have been there, many many times. We spent many years camping in the foothills, and I've been through Millarville on more than one occasion. The mats are made in Mississauga, Ontario, an Alberta/Ontario connection, just like my own family!

The second thing that struck me was the thickness and solid feel of the mat. It has weight!

One of the negative aspects of a wool mat from what I've heard is the wet wool smell when you press with a spray bottle or steam. Well, first of all, I don't have any aversion to wool; I love the smell, the feel, and wear it with no problem. When I lived in Alberta, that meant I wore it a lot, be it sweaters, mittens, scarves and tuques. I've used steam on this mat, I've used my spray bottle of water a lot, and I don't find that it smells at all unless I stick my nose nearly onto the mat. Then I get a faint whiff of wet wool but it very very mild.

What about 'upping' the pressing game?

In a word: yes!
Notice how these large pieces lie crisp and flat

This collage shows you small HSTs, binding, medium-sized multiple-patch units and improv scrappy piecing.

What do the above photos all have in common? The seams lie flat. Usually with small HSTs (the above are 1.5" unfinished), the raw edges start to curl. Not with this mat! It really is amazing, which is why I took photos of several different tests over the past two months. You'll notice my large Rowenta iron as well as my small Dritz one. Great results with either one.

I've said all along that any products I promote or am an affiliate for I have used and am happy to use them. I was sent this mat for free, but I am not an affiliate, just a very happy tester. I have used it every time I sew over the past two months, and I have exactly zero complaints. 

Carmen sells several other products, from alpaca yarn, to kits for sweaters, scarves and mittens, to roving, socks and more.

Be sure to visit her shop. I hear the socks are fabulous, so a pair of them is in order for me for that dreaded season which shall not be named.

Be sure to give them a follow on Instagram! Click the photo to be taken to their feed.

Carmen and Gail have put together a PDF with a little information about the mats, as well as the care of and reason for using a wool mat. If you click this link, you can view the document.

This 30-second video will certainly give you the feels you need for a spirits uplift!


  1. A very thorough review — I love wool too! And you’re spot on about buying things local.

  2. Sounds good & we have many Alpaca farms here in southern Oz, so may do a little research over here. I once (many moons ago), did a weekend retreat/course on Alpacas when we had visions of a small holding & I found they don't smell as much as sheep fleece, hence their wool being more fibreish (is that a word?). Thanks for sharing this & I'll let you know if I can find any here. Take care & hugs.

  3. Great review! Now if only I wasn't allergic to wool...

  4. Once I get settled a bit more, I really want to look into getting a wool / Alpaca mat to up my game as well. I love that it's local for you!!!

  5. I loved that picture when I saw it on your IG post. Not just the cute alpacas, but that gorgeous mountain view behind them. I love my wool mat, too, although it's not alpaca wool.

  6. Yep and yep! I nodded my head all the way through this post. I bought a wool pressing mat about three years ago and it's really upped my pressing capabilities. All my blocks are FLAT now, and that has made me notice how many Instagrammers post pictures of UNflat blocks. The mat smell, what little there is, doesn't bother me either. I'm happy for you to have a pressing mat. It's a great addition to every sewing room.

  7. I purchased a mat from this very vendor after you received yours. I LOVE it and everything gets ironed/pressed with it now. It works wonders on starched yardage (I starch all my quilting fabrics before cutting into them), and really helps my end results lay flat. It has even been used to iron garment yardage. I do find it smells like a wet sheep when used with steam, but I don't mind at all.

  8. I have a (NZ) wool pressing mat and really love mine too, for the same reasons. A great review. Love those Alpaca photos!