Saturday, February 19, 2011

Quick, Easy and Inexpensive Design Wall

Lack of a decent design wall can be inhibiting to your quilting ambitions. The sheer cost of the fancy 'made for the purpose' and portable ones is even more depressing.

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.

Design considerations

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
If you are using sheets, remove the hems. You do not want bulk behind your foam sheet, between it and the wall. Fold the fabric neatly to the back and trim off excess from the folds, it is not going anywhere so raveling will not be a problem. You can use thumbtacks to make sure the front stays smooth while you are fiddling with the back. Use short strips of duct tape to secure the fabric to the back of the foam sheet before mounting it on the wall.

Y'all come back!

1 comment:

  1. my design wall is perfect. I always have something pinned to it. My sewing machine is directly in front of the wall, so I can look up and *see" what I'm doing. Next trip Henrietta--we need to move a TV to that wall. Hard to watch tv with my back to it. Hmm--better not. Too distracting. Ask me about my latest star block.........