Easy Design Wall Tutorial


A few weeks ago I moved my sewing “stuff” into a new space. In the process I rehung my design wall so I wanted to show you how quickly, easily and inexpensively it was made.

A design wall is indispensable. I use it every single day. Before I had it, it was hard for me to imagine why I needed one. Now I can’t imagine life without one.

I use it mostly for auditions. Don’t let that word scare you. It just means “to try something out.” I audition fabrics. I audition units like Flying Geese or Nine Patches. I audition blocks, sections and especially borders.

It’s impossible to see how something is going to look unless you can put it up on a vertical surface and stand back from it. Once you begin doing this, your creative decisions become easier and you become more confident. Your quilts improve!

There are just four things you’ll need to make a design wall similar to this.

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Foamcore, also known as foam board

#1. Large sheet(s) of 1/2″-thick foamcore, also known as foam board. I bought three and they were 40″ x 60″ but they come larger and smaller, too. (More on that below.)

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Another view of foamcore. It comes in various thicknesses. The 1/2″ thickness works great for a design wall.

I found them at an art supply store, but don’t let that scare you off—it’s just lightweight paper-covered styrofoam. It’s inexpensive.

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I used the back of a gray cotton knit, similar to a lightweight sweatshirt.

#2. Gray (not white, black or tan) flannel or stretchy cotton knit, large enough to cover foamcore plus about 6″ extra length and width. I found a wide gray print that was the perfect color on the back. The pink flowers on the front don’t matter at all! Prewash the fabric to remove any sizing (so things will “stick” to it more effectively).

#3. Duct tape

#4. Tiny finishing nails about 1.5″ long (they don’t have much of a head)

Decide how large your design wall can be. I recommend making it as large as you can, within reason. There’s no need to make it higher than you can reach. Make it only as wide as the widest quilt you’ll make. If you’re unsure, go big. If you have limited space, just make it as large as you have room for. You’ll still use it and love it.

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Foamcore pieces can be joined with duct tape on both front and back.

Buy enough foamcore to fill the space you’ve chosen. You can patch together several pieces to get the size you need by butting them up and using duct tape on both sides to secure. I bought three pieces that were 40″ x 60″. Two went side by side and the third was cut up and added to the bottom. My finished size is about 80″ x 80″. (I can’t reach the top but since I learned that the hard way, you don’t have to.)

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Lay the foamcore on the floor and spread the gray material on top, right side up. Pin the fabric to the sides of the foamcore with straight pins, stretching as needed to cover it.

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Push straight pins into the sides of the foamcore to secure the fabric before taping it to the back.

Pull the gray fabric to the back of the foamcore and use duct tape to secure it. It doesn’t have to be pretty—it probably won’t be. Remove the pins if necessary (depends on how stretchy your fabric is).

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Position the design wall where you want it and attach to the wall with the finishing nails. The heads will kind of disappear into the fabric because they’re so small.

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It doesn’t take many nails because the foamcore is very lightweight. I used four or five on each side.

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Stand back and enjoy the view!

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Have you created a design wall for your sewing space? Have you purchased one? Tell us about it, or just tell us how you think it would advance your creativity to have one. We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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