Introduction: DIY Design Wall

About: Tinkerer with a garage, tools, and time to kill...

Ok Ok yes -- I'm entering a sewing contest with an instructable...that isn't a sewing project. But bear with me here..this is something that will go a long way to helping you crank out amazing sewing projects! (you quilters out there know what I'm talking about) So if I haven't offended your sensibilities with my blasphemous entry ;) please keep on reading and figure out what this project is all about!

So this project will outline a simple design wall that will make a great addition to your craft/sewing room. Commonly this is called a quilt design wall as it allows quilters lots of room to lay out quilting squares and easily arrange the components of a quilt before beginning to sew...but it could also come in handy when designing many different types of sewing projects. Essentially, the design wall is a large, flat area on a wall that is covered with flannel. The static cling from the flannel allows you to place textiles on the wall without them falling off (think back to the old days of flannel boards). This means that it is a great tool for visualizing how different fabrics look next to each other -- particularly for larger projects that would be otherwise difficult to lay out undisturbed.

This project takes a couple hours to assemble and uses readily available materials you could get a local home depot and fabric store.


Foam insulation boards (I used 2 4x8 boards -- 2" thick)

White flannel sheet (you can pick different colors but it has to be flannel for this to work)



Large washers

If your room dimensions require you to trim the foam boards then that can be done pretty easily with a circular saw or table saw.

You'll probably want a power drill for driving all the screws.

Step 1: The Foam Boards

I wanted my design wall to be a square 8'x8' so I used 2 4x8 insulation boards I purchased at Home Depot. The first trick was to tape them together. I laid them down side by side and taped them down the center on both the front and back.

Couple tips:

1) Use an appropriate tape color. I did the whole thing with green painter's tape and then realized i was going to use a white flannal sheet to cover the foam. That meant that the tape would be visible and that wasn't a great look...So I went back and re-did it with white tape

2) What do you think happens when you are trying to reach into the middle of a 8' by 8' piece of foam to put down a piece of tape and you end up putting your weight on the foam as you lean out? Yes, you leave a mark in the foam. If you aren't careful you can crush the foam and ruin the look of the design wall. So what to do? Well I used a piece of plywood that I put down on the foam and then knelt on. The wood spread out my weight and kept the foam from being crushed.

Step 2: The Flannel Sheet

With the foam taped together, I cleared a space on the floor and laid out the white flannel sheet I would be using. I tried to make sure it was spread out flat and wrinkle free and then I placed the foam in the middle of the sheet and began wrapping the edges of the sheet around the edges of the foam and on to the back.

Now here was a learning experience for me. I'm going to lay out what I tried and how it went wrong so you can benefit from that:

My original plan was to use my staple gun to tack the sheet to the back of the foam and work my way around the edges while i pulled the sheet nice and tight.

Well it turns out that staples dont hold on the foam very well and if you pull even a little on the sheet they all come right back out.

So I tried tape.

Turns out that tape doesn't hold on to foam very well. I got a little further but, again I wasn't able to pull hard enough on the sheet to make sure ot would be tight and smoothe across the front of the foam.

I then tried using tape AND staples.

Not sure why I bothered with that one... combining two failed ideas just yields a third failed idea.

Ok so how did it get this to work? Well what I finally did was to use...

Step 3: The Screws

Since I was having a hard time getting the flannel sheet to stick to the foam, I decided to just move on to mounting the foam and stretch the sheet at the same time. I started with the top by standing the foam up with the sheet draped partially over the top. I used a screw in each corner to pin the foam to the wall at the appropriate height and then proceeded to move down the length of the top of the foam putting in additional screws

I had 2" foam so i was using 2.5" screws. I would screw through the flannel, into the foam, and then through the sheet again (the material draped over the top of the foam) before finally having the screw go into the wood of the wall. In this way I was anchoring the foam to the wall as well as using the screws to pin the sheet in place.

Foam is a soft material, so it isn't about to resist a wood screw without some help. That is why each screw had a washer on it. You need a large washer to ensure the pressure from the screw is spread out enough so that when is is cinched down it doesn't just pull the head of the screw through the foam as well. I was using 1" diameter washers.

After the screws were in place along the top of the foam, I continued down the side of the foam. I would tuck the sheet behind the foam each time before screwing through the foam and work from top to bottom.

Here is a good tip to make sure you are able to keep the sheet tight along the from of the foam as you drive the screws: I would alternate sides, driving a screw on the right side and then moving the the left and placing a screw across from the on I'd just done. That meant that, along that line i could pull hard on the sheet and get any wrinkles out before tucking it behind the foam and screwing it down. Then I move down a bit and drive a screw before switching back to the right side and repeating the process there.

When I reached the bottom, the sheet was tight and I'd pulled all the wrinkles out so I could just go across the bottom of the foam screwing the sheet/foam to the wall.

Step 4: The Finished Product

That's it! Nice and easy right?

Now that you have the design wall finished you can start laying out designs for your next project. Been thinking of making a quilt and not having the space? Or are you just tired of having your table space cluttered by fabrics? Well that's all done now.

Don't you know anyway? ... work tables are sooooo last week. All the cool kids hang their fabrics on the wall now.

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