Monday, 16 April 2012

How to Make a Design Wall in Ten Minutes, for Two Dollars

Lots of quilters have a sticky wall on which to arrange their fabric blocks. After using the ones at my local quilt shop, I can see many advantages to having this kind of setup. It gives you a chance to see your full quilt laid out before you sew it together so you can come up with the best possible arrangement. It also saves time because you always know exactly where each piece goes and how it interacts with its neighbours.

I've seen many examples of quilt design walls. The ones at the quilt shop are made of fabric covered plywood. Soundboard wrapped in batting is really popular as well. For my sewing room, I wanted something equivalent that was cheap, removable, and took up very little space. My solution was a vinyl tablecloth with a flannel back.

You can usually find these at the dollar store for a dollar or two. I picked this one because it was bright and modern, but it doesn't actually matter what's on the front of it, since the part you will be using is the back. The one important thing to remember when you are looking for this type of tablecloth is that they come in two shapes, round or rectangular. For this, you need a rectangular one (or two, depending on the size of wall you want to cover).

I started out with this blank wall in front of my sewing machine:

Using thumb tacks all the way around, I attached the table cloth horizontally to cover the area between the ceiling and the table. The vinyl front of the table cloth is facing the wall and the flannel back is facing outwards. I found out the hard way that you want to use flat push pins for this, not the type that stick out. If they stick out, they will eventually get caught in your clothing and tear a hole in your drywall. Bad.

If I had wanted a bigger sticky area, I could have turned the table cloth the other way and attached a second one next to it with the sides overlapping. This size is enough for me at the moment.

Now that I had a design wall, I started testing. Fabric sticks really well to the tablecloth, no pins needed. Static holds everything solidly where you put it, with no chance of detaching. I think this actually works better than the set up at the quilt shop.

Here it is with all of the blocks of my current project arranged and ready to be sewn together! Every time I sew a block, I can stick it back up on the wall in its place. I no longer have to stop and try to figure out what goes where at every step.

I am super happy with this solution, and it has been great to watch the quilt come together piece by piece instead of just having a bigger and bigger pile of rectangles on the table. If I ever want to upgrade for a bigger quilt, all I'll need to do is add on another table cloth.


  1. You can't beat that for 2 bucks!!

  2. Behold the power of STATIC! I love this idea, and may just have to give it a try!

  3. How simple and yet effective! Due to call into the $2 shop tomorrow any way... Thanks for the tip!

  4. Great tip. I'm going to have to try this sometime.