Make a Design Board

How to Make a Design Board

I typically lay out my quilt blocks and fabrics on the carpet in order to test out designs. But this method only seems to attract cats or general foot traffic until my blocks are so tossed about that I can’t remember what I was doing in the first place. Do you have this problem?

Enter, the design board! Also called a design wall, a design board is a helpful tool for quilters that works much like a felt or flannelgraph board. Cut fabric squares or quilt blocks will temporarily “stick” to it while you figure out an arrangement you like. The lightweight board can be nailed to a wall or you can slide it under the bed when you’re ready to take a break from your design.

Design Board

Here are two 4′ x 8′ design boards, which create a great workspace when placed side by side. When I’m working on a smaller quilt, I can opt to just use one of the boards. Also, each board easily comes off the wall if I need to move it to another room and work!

To make your own quilting design board, you’ll need:

– 1 Sheet foam insulation 4′ x 8′ (and about 1″ thick), from hardware store
– Packing tape or duct tape
– Box cutter
– Iron
– 4 clothespins or binder clips
– Nail and hammer (if mounting to wall)
– Queen-size batting or two batting scraps at least 54″ x 54″
(I used Warm & Natural, but any type of cotton, white batting would work)
- Staple gun (optional)

In order to get my foam insulation board home in the car, I cut it into 4 quadrants (one cut down the vertical center, and another cut down the horizontal center). This way, it easily fit in the back seat of my compact car! I knew I’d be taping it when I got home, so this was no big deal to me. You may choose to keep your board all in one piece if you can transport it home.

Tip: If you often work on large quilts, you might want to purchase two boards for an 8-foot x 8-foot workspace. Just make sure you have the available wall space for it!

If you cut your board, tape the sections back together with clear packing tape.

Here is what the board looks like all taped together. I decided this was bigger than I wanted to wrangle, so I untaped the vertical center and left it in two halves.

Next, cut a piece of quilt batting 3″ longer than the board on each side. Mine was 54″ x 54″.

Press your batting to make a smooth surface. You can iron right on top of your board.

Once your batting is smoothed out, stand your board upright and use clothespins to secure the batting tight onto one side of the board. Tape the edge of the batting to the board, one side at a time. Flip your board and pin the opposite side, pulling the batting taut. If you have a staple gun, you can use that to secure the batting. Duct tape would also work in a pinch.

Here is what the back of your design board should look like.

To hang your design board on the wall, use the point of your scissors to poke a hole into the back side of the foam board directly in the center and about 4″ down from the top. Hammer a nail into the wall and place the hole into the nail.  You could also attach your board to the wall with sticky mounting tape or adhesive velcro (if you want to be able to take it off and put it back on easily).

Place quilt blocks or fabric swatches on your design wall and arrange as desired. Your quilter’s design board is complete!

As always, if you are inspired to make this project or use any of our tutorials, we’d love to see them in the Craft Buds Flickr group!

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  13 comments for “Make a Design Board

  1. Linda Sandusky
    February 20, 2013 at 8:52 am

    hi lindsay….i have no wall space in my sewing room so i bought a flannel backed tablecloth at the dollar store….cut it in half…put grommets along the top…and hung it on nails on the back of the sewing room door…quick, easy & cheap!!

    • February 20, 2013 at 9:53 am

      Linda, that is so smart–and portable! Thanks for sharing your tip. :)

  2. February 20, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Looks great. Now I just have to talk the husband into letting me hang this up on the wall :)

  3. Christine Sherman
    February 20, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Love this. I been meaning to get to Lowe’s, these boards are very reasonable. Thanks for the reminder. And using clothes pins to hold in place is a great tip, thanks! This will be so much easier than going back and forth to another room to lay out my blocks on the spare bed :)

  4. Deb
    February 20, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Love seeing how these are made! Thanks for the specifics…

  5. February 21, 2013 at 7:49 am

    With six cats, I definitely have that problem, or my husband comes home from work and I yell – “don’t walk on my quilt!), the cats love to scratch at the blocks, toss them in the air and crawl under them! I can’t wait to make a design wall when I move!

  6. Sandy
    February 21, 2013 at 7:50 am

    What a great idea! My cats are constantly messing up my quilt designs :) Would it be okay if I pinned this to my Sewing board on Pinterest

    • February 21, 2013 at 9:18 am

      Absolutely! You may pin anything on the Craft Buds site. :)

  7. February 22, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    What a great idea! I’ve been looking for a lightweight, removable board, and this is just the ticket. Ironically, I just threw out a ton of this very purple insulation that I used to ship Stella (my grandmother’s treadle sewing machine) from Seattle to Florida. If I’d only been as clever as you! Off to Home Depot soon to pick up some more! At least it’s not expensive. Thanks for a great idea!

  8. Lana Elfstrom
    February 26, 2013 at 10:41 am

    I had a huge piece of white felt ( from a roll) that was left over from some Chtistmas crafting project and given to me by my mother in law. (Just imagine sewing hundreds of felt stockings to be filled and gifted to senior citizens!) I just used pushpins and hung it on my ONE wall in my studio that is unbroken by doors, or a closet or window. It is the perfect size. From the ceiling it reaches to only about 18 -24 inches off the floor and it is about 5 ‘ wide. VERY cheap and easy!!! The fabric sticks like a dream!

  9. Sue Walty
    October 31, 2014 at 8:07 am

    Do you think heavy duty Command strips could be used to hang board. They hold my quilt hangers

    • October 31, 2014 at 9:51 am

      Yes, definitely! Good idea. :)

  10. June @ QuiltQuest
    December 12, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Is there only the one nail to keep each board up? I’m a little unclear once you got to the hanging on the wall part… I’ve got two boards ready to hang, they are just leaning against the wall now… Thanks!

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