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Make Your Own Design Wall!

January 6, 2014


As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had some type of sewing space in my house. My DH is retired from the Air Force and for 29 years we moved about every 3-4 years. When my kids were small there was very little extra space to allow for a dedicated area to sew. I often would set up my sewing machine at the kitchen table, make a huge mess with fabric scraps and  pattern pieces scattered all over the place, and then try to push everything aside to allow enough room to eat at the kitchen table. After dinner, everything would be returned to the previous chaos until that sewing project was completed. At that point everything would be cleaned up, machine  and ironing board put away until the next sewing project.

Eventually we moved to a house that had a downstairs family room which allowed me to take over a corner of the family room. This allowed me a little more freedom as I was able to leave the sewing machine set up between projects which also meant that I got more sewing done because it wasn’t as hard to haul everything out to start a new project. I became so used to having my own space that I continued to commandeer a corner in the basement of the next house. With the next move we ended up in a house with no basement and no room in the family room for me to have my own little corner. By this time my three kiddos each had their own room so I convinced the girls that it would be a great idea if they would share a room and I took over one of the bedrooms for my ever growing sewing supplies. I can’t begin to tell you how many fights I had to referee over them sharing a room, I think there were a few months of actual masking tape down the middle of the room so that neither of them stepped in the other’s space (but that’s another story in itself)!

When the girls were in high school we lived in yet another house that had no extra room for me so I ended up taking over the dining room for my space. This actually was not the best solution because it was in the main living area and one of the first things people saw when they came to the house. Because of that, I had to clean up quite a bit when I finished sewing for the day to keep everything looking presentable. Several moves later I now have a dedicated sewing studio of my own! It’s the bonus room over the garage. I can start a project, leave everything as messy as I want, start another project, etc. etc, and I am the only one who has to deal with the mess.

We’ve lived in our current house for 11 years now. Ack! That’s like a lifetime for someone who was used to moving every three or four years, so occasionally I get a little itchy to move things around.

Recently I realized that the design wall I had been using for a few years just wasn’t hacking it anymore. I had a sheet of styrofoam insulation from the local hardware store which I covered with flannel. It leaned against the wall and was stored behind a large chair which manages to stay covered with piles of fabric. Whenever I needed to use it I hauled it out from behind the chair and propped it against the storage cabinets at the end of the room.

Eventually I began to want a larger design wall, something a little more permanent so that I wouldn’t have to move things around whenever I needed to use it. I decided that the only way to accomplish this was to move all the shelves and storage cabinets to another wall so that it would “free up” the wall I needed.

Since my original design wall wasn’t quite large enough I added another covered sheet of foam insulation next to the original one. It wasn’t until they were covered and nailed to the wall that I realized that the color of the insulation makes a difference. The original one was pink and the recently purchased one was blue. You can see a little difference in the color now that they are side by side but I’ve gotten used to it. When I use this wall to take photos of quilts I crop out the background anyway so it really doesn’t matter.

If you have been yearning for your own design wall, here are a few pointers…

Depending on how large a wall you want, you will need one or two styrofoam insulation sheets from your local hardware store. Measure your wall to determine the finished size of your design wall area. Since I rearranged my room to accommodate a large wall I used two styrofoam sheets.

To cover the styrofoam I purchased some heavy duty flannel. It wasn’t large enough to cover the styrofoam so I sewed two widths of the flannel together and made sure to allow enough fabric (about 6 inches) to be able to fold over to the back side of the styrofoam board. After sewing your flannel together be sure to press the seams open.


You may need a helper at this point. Lay your flannel out on the floor or use a large table with the wrong side of the flannel facing up. Then lay your styrofoam sheet over the flannel. Make sure the fabric is flat and begin turning the fabric to the back of the styrofoam board. Staple a couple of staples on one side and then pull the fabric slightly from the opposite side and staple. Continue alternating sides, stapling as you go until you have secured each side. Next, staple the top and bottom the same way.


Since the styrofoam isn’t strong enough to hold the staples in place for an extended period of time, use some type of wide tape (I used duct tape but packing tape will also work) to tape over the edge of the fabric and staples. Tape all four sides.


I used two pieces of styrofoam and wanted to keep them aligned so I added additional tape to make a “hinge” between the two boards.


Now you simply need to attach the finished design wall to your wall. I rested the bottom of the design wall onto the baseboard and used small nails and nailed through the styrofoam right into the wall.


If you are limited on wall space, you could always make a design wall like this, hinge it together with tape and store it somewhere, maybe under a bed, until you actually need it.

Once you begin to use it, though you will love it enough that you will want it out all the time!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Alby Halsey permalink
    January 6, 2014 6:00 pm

    You made it sound very easy to do, I will go out and get what is needed in the morning.

    Thank you for your idea.

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