how to make a design board for quilting

how to make a design board for quilting

Design boards are a great way to get your ideas out of your head and onto paper. They can be made for almost anything, especially when you’re in the design phase of creating something. You may need them for designing home décor projects, web layouts, or any other project that requires creative visualization such as quilting!

I typically lay out my quilt blocks and fabrics on the carpet to test 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 figuring 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.

Below you’ll see two 4′ x 8′ design boards, which create a great workspace when placed side by side. When working on a smaller quilt, I can 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!

Design Board

Here is what you need to make your design board

  • 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!

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