Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric... Welcome to the Patriotic Quilter where I like to share all things quilty as well as red, white, and blue! Please feel free to look around and enjoy yourself! I would love to hear from you.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Design Wall

While working on my quilting room, the overall theme is cheap!  I'm not going to sugar-coat it and say that I'm doing it "on a budget" or "as inexpensively as possible."  Nope.  I don't want to spend much money at all.  Don't you love it when you watch a design show that is supposed to be "budget friendly" and their budget is $1000...  or more?  Yeah, not my idea of budget-- hence "cheap."

Remember that we are renting and I'm only going to be living in this house for two years (plus or minus six months, probably) and I don't know what sort of studio I will have in the future.  This one is huge, but I'm sure I won't have that much space in the next one.  I also (for once) don't have to share with a guest room or office, so the space seems so much larger!

One of my requirements is to have a design wall.  You can have a design wall easily without spending too much money at all.  You can go to a home improvement store and purchase diffent sorts of 4x8 sheets of foam insulation, wall board, etc., then cover them and install.  I discovered years ago that I didn't have to buy anything.  After all, I just moved in, right?

If you have ever moved the one thing you have plenty of are empty boxes.  I take some of them, trim off the flaps on the top and bottom and then cut one edge open so I have a long piece of cardboard.

In the past when I've used boxes for a design wall, I pieced the strips into one larger piece, re-enforcing the creases by taping the flaps that I had cut off over them.  But also in the past, I was making a smaller design wall--usually behind/above my sewing desk.  In this house, I have the wall space for a large design wall and so I was dragging my feet with this project, not enamoured with the idea of dealing with piecing all that cardboard and trying to deal with a cumbersome mass.

Then this week I was wandering around in blog world and saw a photo of a design wall.  It was done in panels.  I wish I remembered where I saw it because I would gladly share a link, but at any rate, panels seemed to be the solution.  Finally I could proceed.  I would wrap batting around the cardboard.  I went to my local fabric store--the one named after me, ha ha!  Although I had a coupon on my smart phone (do you not just LOVE that ability?) I discovered that all packaged bats were 50% off!  How lucky was that?  I first grabbed a queen-sized Warm and Natural, but then I saw a different, cheaper brand that would save me $10 (yes, it was regularly $20 less than the W&N) so I decided to get it, instead.  When I paid, the total was under $12. 

I began working with the panels on the floor.  Ugh!  After the first was done, I set up a line of folding tables so I didn't have to crawl around the floor.  Experience has taught me two things:  1.  Do use some tape to stretch the batting out first.  Even if you think you are keeping things smooth, it is easy for some sagging or wrinkling to occur.  It isn't dissimilar to layering a quilt in this respect.  2.  I "dry fit" the cardboard onto the batting and when I saw that it fit fine, I took the cardboard strip outside and sprayed it with adhesive.  In my case, I had spray baste for fabric on hand, so I used that.  That bit of tackiness really helps keep the normally slippery cardboard in place while you finish.

So again, in this photo, you can see that I taped out the batting and sprayed the "nice side" of the cardboard and placed it tacky side down on the batting.

Next, I trimmed down any excess batting and then wrapped it around the edge of the cardboard and taped it with masking tape.  In the past I've used duck tape, but I wanted it to be lighter (and cheaper, yes!) so I used the masking tape and it worked great.  I folded the corners in neatly and as flatly as possible.  I continued in this process making 4 strips of batting-covered cardboard.

In my head, I visualized the panels running vertically down the wall, however I was home alone installing this and wanted to complete it before my husband got home because I began my Schnibble and needed a design wall NOW and didn't want to wait.  My concern was keeping everything nice and straight and level.  I got the idea that I could put the strips horizontally, starting at the bottom where it is easier to reach.  One trick that I use constantly when hanging pictures or quilts on the wall is to use a long level to see that my line is straight and then run a piece of blue tape along it, marking a level guide line that is easy to remove later.  So the next step entailed marking a long line for the bottom of the design wall area and another for the left vertical edge.  Then it was pretty easy to place the first strip along both edges and I used saome small nails to tack it up.  The strip is really pretty light and doesn't require any heavy hardware to install at all.  I wish I had taken pictures at this point, but I was too busy getting it all up. 

The next strip was easier, because I just had to line up the left edge with the vertical tape strip and then run it along the top of the previous strip.  I did the third strip the same way.  And then I realized that I wouldn't need the fourth.  The top of the design wall was already over head high for me, and I didn't want anything so high that I couldn't reach it!

Here is the result.  In real life, it is all nice and straight--the angle of the photo makes it look skewed.  In retrospect, I sort of wish I had sprung for the W&N as the batting I used is a little translucent, however, I figure that it will usually be full of quilt blocks and pieces, so that shouldn't be a problem.

I hope you realize that as long as you have an empty wall, you shouldn't let expense keep you from having one!  This whole thing cost me less than $15! (batting plus masking tape.)


  1. Excellent use of packing boxes! Fantastic design wall! I love "cheap"... and "free" too!

  2. Love, love, love your design wall!!! I'm a frugal (read "cheap") person too and don't like to spend money on anything EXCEPT fabric!! I will definately be following your idea when I move into my next home in a couple of months!

  3. Brilliant idea I may be using that one when I have decorated. Thank you x

  4. Wonderful and creative idea for a design wall! Unfortunately for me, I would have to spend way more than $15 to buy a big wall first! LOL!

  5. I think I need one of these. Thanks for showing me how to make it!

  6. Thanks for the tips on creating a design wall! I do need to make one!!


  7. Was just reading a blog on that the other day too. Fortunately I pinned it since I want something similar myself. Here's the one I saw:

  8. Great use of what you had on hand! I love my fabric design wall and would be lost without it. It is just not the same laying blocks out on a bed or the floor...