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.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Design Boards

Hi Everyone,

I had a few questions on yesterday's posts featuring the design boards.  I linked back to a post I thought I had written about them, but I guess I was just talking about using the glue gun, so for today I am writing more about them.

The most important thing to know about them is that they are Lori Holt's idea and you can find a tutorial here for part one and here for part two on her blog or watch a video of her making them here on youtube.  I have to say that when I first saw this tutorial I didn't think it would be something that I would ever use, but I tried some because I had some foam core pieces laying around and discovered that they are really, really handy to have.

I pretty much followed her instructions except for a few changes.  First of all, they are made from sheets of foam core which measure 20" x 30."  You can buy foam core at your local craft store and you can use a coupon for it, etc. however, I have found it in the dollar store (specifically Dollar Tree) for $1 a sheet.  I wouldn't use dollar store foam core for archival projects, but I have no problems using it for these little design boards.

So the first step I take with my sheets of foam core is to decide what size to cut them.  I usually do two squares 15" x 15" because the sheet is 30" wide.  That leaves a narrow strip of excess that is 5 inches wide.  Also, a board that is 15" square is perfect for holding an exploded 12" block.  (I'm hoping that everyone knows that an exploded block is all the elements of a block placed in the correct position to be sewn.)  I have also cut some of the sheets into one 20" square and 2 10" squares.  You could even cut one sheet into 6 10" squares--it just depends on the size you think you may use.   To cut them, I measure and draw lines and then use my quilting rulers as an edge (as I would just like cutting fabric) but I use a box cutter to cut the foam core (with my cutting mat underneath.)  Next you cut scraps of quilt batting a little bit larger than your boards.  I like to press it nice and flat.  I have used scraps of Hobbs 80/20 Heirloom batting for these, but I find that I prefer something more like Warm and Natural or Quilter's Dream batting.  Those latter brands don't stretch or pill as much.

Lori says that she just uses some hot glue to glue the batting around the edges.  I prefer to spray the whole board with spray adhesive and then smooth on the batting.  Next, just trim the edges of the batting even with the edges of the board.  Are you all familiar with using spray adhesive?  This is a product that you don't want to use in the house AND you want to lay down newspaper to catch the overspray.  Also, don't have children around the area and try not to inhale the actual spray.  These are all tips that I have acquired personally--except for the inhaling part.  I also like to use the spray adhesive made for layering quilts--it isn't as powerful as the stronger stuff.  Back to the trimming--I discovered that I could lay a rotary-cutting ruler on top of the back of the foam core board with the edges even and use my BIG rotary cutter to trim the edges.  The normal 45mm cutter doesn't work because the center "hub" of the cutter runs into the ruler, but the taller, larger blade "hub" clears the top of the ruler.  It is easy enough, though just to use scissors--the edge will be covered so it won't show anyway.

Then follow her directions for making the "binding" and use your glue gun to attach it.  Use fabric that is cute! Don't forget the step where you zigzag stitch the folds in the binding--I didn't with my first one and it was difficult to glue on.  Once the binding is glued on, you are done!  You really won't believe how much you will use these!  The batting keeps all your parts from moving or getting lost, etc.  Lori is brilliant to have come up with these.  I made a bunch a while ago and I used them so much that I made another batch last month.

Have a great day!


  1. I remembered seeing these at Loris blog when I saw the stack of yours yesterday. Your tips are great. At some point ill wan these! Even just one. Spare a square? Teasing! You do remember that old Seinfield Show ... Don't ya?

  2. I think I may have to make some of these. I prefer to use the spray glue when layering my quilts too.xx

  3. Hubby's infusion meds come in a big box lined with foam core squares--------I think these would be perfect for design boards and I would be recycling. Two sizes, 12" and 15" square and 1" thick. I'll go watch Lori's video.

  4. You have me convinced...I'll have to try one or two of these. I make my blocks like you made the leaves in a previous post...laying them out one block at a time instead of chain piecing rows, etc. I always use a big square ruler to hold the "exploded" block, so I'm sure these would be useful!

  5. Thanks for the info. Like Michelle, I have used my big square ruler to hold blocks. These mini boards will be perfect. Supplies to make are already on my shopping list. Thanks.

  6. Thanks so much for giving the details on how to make the design boards. I've got a piece of foam core already so I'm going to give this a try.

  7. Thanks for sharing the link to Lori's tutorial and all of your tips as well. I like the idea of the spray adhesive. This will be a good Saturday project!

  8. I remember thinking those were awfully cute when I saw Lori's, you kinda jogged the memory! you used perfect binding. I like spray adhesive, too. We spray over a forty gallon trash can that we use for this type of craft spray projects, but you are right! Don't spray just anywhere, the over-spray is messy!

  9. I was hoping to make a pile of these as Chirstmas gifts but time ran out on me---it never occurred to me that I could use more than one for myself! I have some foam board stuff from a project I've decided not to do so there's no excuse really! Thanks for the extra tips and info :-)

  10. I've been wanting to make some of this design boards since Lori's tutorial came out. Thanks for your tips on making them. Now all I need to do is buy some foam board.