My quilting buddy Lori didn't have a design wall although she is very blessed in terms of space available for her quilting. On a visit to South Dakota a few years ago I decided to remedy that lack. We do get ourselves into trouble on a regular basis but this was one of the more successful (and completed) projects.
Here is a picture taken shortly after the wall was finished. Click to enlarge. Note the screws with washers at the top edge securing the sheets to the wall. Here is a link to a more recent image.
A visit to your friendly local big box building supply store will yield the materials you need fairly inexpensively. One or more sheets of expanded polystyrene a minimum of 1-1/2" thick should cost you less than $15 each. Because the sheets are a bulky 4' x 8' you will have to consider how you are going to get them home, they are very light so you will want to put something on top to make sure they do not fly out of the back of a pickup. Do NOT ask how I know this.
What kind of board?
Foam sheets come in many types, the two most common are Styrofoam™ sheets and expanded polystyrene sheets. EPS is the generic industry name for a white rigid material made by expanding polystyrene beads with steam and bonding the beads together under pressure in a block or shape mold. This is much less expensive than the trademarked Styrofoam™ product and perfectly satisfactory for this project.
Lori had plenty of available wall space. Because she owns her home and wasn't worried about holes in the panel-board wall we simply screwed the foam to the wall using drywall screws with a washer between the screw head and the foam to make sure we didn't punch clear through. She recycles old blunt sewing machine needles to pin up her blocks.
If you are in a rental or reluctant to make holes you will need to buy the magical 3M Command poster hanging strips which can be removed or replaced without damaging the wall behind. Stick them in a grid pattern to the back of your foam sheet. Six should do the job as it is very lightweight.
We made Lori's design wall with three sheets hung vertically. One sheet hung horizontally with the top edge at a height you can just reach would have worked very well too.
Fancying it up
Expanded polystyrene sheets come in blue and plain white. Ours are white and we left them nekkid. Depending on your budget you can leave it plain as we did or cover it with:
- all your Works in Progress
- a pretty thrift store sheet
- a new cheapo twin flat sheet, or
- 1-2/3 yards of wide quilt backing fabric
Y'all come back!