Friday, September 20, 2013

Sew Many Design Walls!

I had the following question from Sheri come in --- and I felt the best way to get the best answers was to post her question to our Quiltville Friends facebook page!

((Click LIKE on our page and share in our fun chatter!))

She asked: 
"I was wondering about a design wall. I don't currently have one but I think that I would like to.
I am very limited on space. Can you maybe post and see if anyone has ideas for what to do or how to set it up. What fabric they may have used? 
Fleece, flannel, or what ever works or maybe doesn't work so well. I will be putting this together and hoping to make something "portable" since I am so limited on space. Thank you in advance. " Sheri in PA
Well, over the course of the day there are more than 111 comments on different things to do for a portable design wall. 
Lots of suggestions for the easy and inexpensive flannel backed table cloth idea ((Which I have also used in my sewing area at the cabin, and it works just fine)) to elaborate expensive ones you can buy online or at quilt shows.
I thought I could share a few of the best clips with you here, just in case these ideas may work for you.  I tried to find a way to copy/paste the whole thing, but – well – it’s not that easy!
Susan wrote:
I'm also thinking about buying a very wide window shade at Home Depot, adhering flannel to it with spray glue and hanging it above the closet doors. This way I can pull down the 'wall' when I need it, and I can also roll it back up with the pieces still on it to have access to the closet. One of these days....
And I thought that might be good until QuilterXin wrote:
I did that with a Wide shade, BUT, it doesn't work well rolling back up when you have the extra flannel backing tacked to it! Also, i must not have bought the correct/thin flannel b/c it doesn't hold the blocks of material as well as the plastic table cloth ones....
Okay, these two comments cancelled each other out!  If it is the thickness of the flannel that made the rolling shade not want to roll back up…..could you line the rolling shade with a flannel backed table cloth? Quilters and ideas….we will figure this out yet!
Foam insulation board was also a favorite in the discussion and that is what I used for my own design wall here ---but it can be big and bulky and take up a whole wall, and Sheri is limited on space…I suppose you can cut the foam board into any size you want, hinging them with duct tape so you can fold them and put them out of the way, but I thought this next idea was really cool:
Sandi bought pvc pipe and corners and for not much money she did this:
I have a couple. One that I slide around in a bigger room that is 6' x 6'. It is also collapsible. However, my second one is PVC pipe with the corner pieces. I used the 5' length and then I took a flannel sheet and made pockets on four sides and made it nice and tight. I can hang it on hooks or I can lean it anywhere I want to.
It cost me $11.00 to make the frame and a used white flannel sheet. It is also easy to pop apart since it is not glued together. You could make it smaller if you ask them at the hardware store to cut the PVC. You can also make it larger by using the longer pieces. Both works great and both can travel to retreats.
If you are limited on space, this might really work well for you because you can take it apart and put it back together when you need to and it will store easily in a small space in a closet.
Julie Young brought forth a great idea she’d heard:
I have seen people cover the back side of those folding cutting boards with felt or flannel then hang it by clipping on large binder clips and hanging the clip handles on to command hooks. It is a bit more stable, plus you can fold it and slip it under the bed or in the closet if needed.
This sounds VERY sturdy, and portable! 
I remember these folding cutting boards from growing up and learning to sew clothing – I didn’t even know they still made these…..because they fold accordion style, you could get them to also stand on their own by how you bent the folds.
And for the real do-it-yourself types…here is another project for you!  Wanda writes:
Here are the plans to the one I have. It is made from PVC pipe & either flannel or felt (your choice - I used flannel).   I love mine.

Image from Sewmanyways.blogspot.com
This portable design wall is 32” X 32” and the flannel is sewn like a pillowcase and just slides over the frame.  I believe you could make this any size you want.  Get busy!
Another great idea comes from Pauline who writes:
Bonnie, been wanting a reason to share this.

I bought several yard sticks from the paint store, doubled and glued so that the seams were braced. Drew a level line on the wall, screwed in heavy duty cup holders, also from the hardware store. Hung clips from Walmart (super cheap and made in America) When used as my design wall I hang a flannel sheet.



To start to  vertically sandwich and pin baste my quilt I remove the sheet, hang the backing, tape the edges to the wall with painters masking tape, add the batting, smooth out, add the quilt top, smooth and pin. Works great for me. My sewing room is in a 10 x 20 portable building so I can leave it up.


I shared a post with my “not so portable” design wall HERE.  This is at the bottom of the stairs and outside of my main studio because I didn’t have any free wall space IN the studio.  It works for me, and I like having it there!

If you would like to share what you’ve used as a portable and not so portable design wall, please feel free to leave your comments in the comments section below so others can read them!
It’s been a great day in Eugene..spent the morning shopping, and enjoyed lunch out…then came back to the hotel and slept for 3 hours straight.  I had been up and go go go go every day since Sunday when I first flew here and I think I needed a day to play catch up.
I’ll be sewing in the hotel room tonight!!

Click Here to like our Quiltville Friends Page on Facebook for more fun!


  1. I only have space for a small design wall. I got two 24" x 18" stretched artist canvas, laid them side by side, taped them together front and back with duct tape, and stapled flannel over all. I now have a 24" x 36" design wall that I can hang on the wall.

    Myrna in KY

  2. My DD#1 just moved out and started her job as a Nurse in Macon, GA. So here back at home I now have a room to make into my new quilting studio. This post is just in time to help me design a very versatile well thought out space. I am looking forward to having a real design wall. Thank you Ladies of Quiltville.

  3. My family room has a cathedral ceiling. I lay my blocks out on the family room floor, then run upstairs and look out over the bannister. Great exercise, too.

  4. My family room has a cathedral ceiling. I lay my blocks out on the family room floor, then run upstairs and look out over the bannister. Great exercise, too.

  5. I'd love to have a BIG design wall too. But I would have to get rid of some stuff! I used to use felt over a foam board that had been used for a science display, easy, stapled to the faom and folds. Recently I took the felt off, and stapled it to my sliding closet door. However I often end up w pieces on the floor too, as the design wall it only so big! The foam science project board was an easy inexpensive project, but storing it became a problem too. There are some pics on my blog.

  6. Anonymous9:15 AM EDT

    I use the foam insulation board that you can buy at hardware stores, but it is the THICK board - about 2 inches thick. It stands on its own without bowing - a problem I had with the thin stuff. I've had no problems with pins going through the board and into the wall, and I can slide it easily when I need to move it. I plan to make a second one so that I can arrange blocks for larger quilts. When I don't need that much design space, I'll slide one behind the other. Well worth the mid thirty dollar price of the insulation board.

  7. I have purchased the Vanishing Design Wall which is a roll up shade that mounts in a wooden box over a closet door. I love it! Only issue is when you roll it up with pieces attached they get a little wrinkled. Otherwise I am very happy with it

  8. When I was doing a makeover for my sewing room last year I decided I wanted something more than a piece of flannel backed plastic to hang on my wall so I had this bright idea to make a Design Wall Quilt.

    It looks like a quilt, especially when I have blocks on it, but acts as my design wall. I can take it down any time I need to take it with me and it adds to the finished look of my sewing room. The center is flannel and the rest is cotton.

    You can check out the the blog post and pictures if you're interested. http://bittybitsandpieces.blogspot.com/2012/04/sewing-room-makeover.html

  9. Very well said. These tips are really amazing. I appreciate it for sharing them.

    Plastic Pipe

  10. Hi i have read your post and i think it's usefull.Thanks for the sharing this website. it is very useful professional knowledge.

    Plastic Ducting

  11. Diana Hendricks12:00 AM EST

    I don't have space for a permanent design wall. I bought a $2 flannel backed vinyl tablecloth that I hang on my wall with push pins when needed. When I'm done I can take it down, fold it up to store or go for a picnic.

  12. I don't have space for a permanent design wall like most of you have mentioned, since my sewing room is actually my lanai. I was lucky to find one at Joann Fabrics that is temporary you hang with command hooks. It has flannel to hang the fabric and works great.


Did you know that ad space on this blog provides for all of the free patterns and free mysteries and challenges at no cost to you? Without ads, this blog would not be possible.

Thank you for understanding the many hours that go into this blog 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year. :)