August 20, 2010

Portable Design Wall Tutorial

I’ve been cleaning, purging and organizing my studio to make room for all of my new quilting *stuff*. As I was sifting through the menagerie of things in the large closet, I came across an old fabric board. It is one of those accordion folded pieces of corrugated cardboard that can be used for measuring fabric. My mother-in-law had left it behind when she moved out of the house and I just stuck in the closet where it was forgotten about.

I was almost ready to put it in the cardboard recycling bin when I had a flash of genius (at least I thought so). You see, I’ve been wanting to put up a design wall for quite a while now, but haven’t really been too inclined to go pick up the lumber I thought would be necessary to frame it. I was making it overly complicated, I’m sure, but that’s just how my mind works. So on this particular day as I was feely woozy from the heat and tired from all the clean-out *stuff* I came up with a plan for how to turn that old, yellowed piece of cardboard into a design wall.


What you will need:
- Cardboard cutting board
- Felt (or other clingy material)
- Super 77 Spray Adhesive (only the strongest will do for this project)
- Fabric Scissors
- Hanging hardware of your preference


Step One: Spread your cutting board out on a flat surface, preferably OUTSIDE. I cannot stress this enough. Super 77 is M-E-S-S-Y. So unless you want everything in your house sticky and wreaking of heinous fumes, take it outside. I used my driveway.

Step Two: Spray the board liberally with adhesive. This is no time to hold back. Make sure you have even coverage as well.

Step Three: Carefully lay your felt on the board. Using firm pressure, smooth the fabric removing all wrinkles from the center outward.


Step Four: Once you have smoothed the felt completely, it is time to turn the board over. Using your scissors clip the corners as shown above.

Step Five: With the board still upside down, spray adhesive liberally onto the felt that is hanging over the edge, then wrap the felt around to the backside. Again, don’t skimp on the adhesive here.


Step Six: Finally, hang your design board

The greatest advantage to this design wall is that it is portable. You can still fold it up and take it with you. Perfect for quilting retreats or when you head out for a day of sewing with a good friend.

I was able to make this entire project using items I already had on hand. The only thing I had to purchase were the hooks for the wall. Speaking of which, here is a close-up of how I am hanging mine.


I used a curtain grommet machine to make the holes and then I inserted large metal grommets. To hang it, I purchased 3M Command hooks, which just add to the portability. Anytime I want to take this along with me, I can take the hooks as well and not have to worry about hanging it and causing damage to the walls.

One last thing to note. I noticed that the acrylic felt I used was pretty smooth, so to increase it’s cling-ability, I plan to rub it gently with a Scotch-Brite pad to make it a little more fuzzy.

Good luck making your very own Portable Design Wall. If you make one, please let me know, I would love to see how everyone else makes use of this tutorial.

Happy Crafting!!

Edited to add: There are several ways to hang this, so don't think that if you don't have a big grommet setting machine you can't make this work. Binder clips would make for a cute, industrial look. A few skirt hangers that have the pinch clips would give it a home-spun flavor. Make holes with a larger craft needle and string a fine gauge wire through the holes... there are lots of possibilities if you just use your imagination. Have fun!


  1. Looks great! What a wonderful idea. I will be all over this and will be making one for my sewing room. Love the fact you can fold and put away if needed. It was indeed a stroke of genius.

  2. Royce mentioned your blog so I had to check it out. Great design wall! Years ago I had one of those cardboard mats. Love the idea, especially the portability for quilt aways. For now I use binder clips on flannel on my wall, but may want to change to your method. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Great design wall idea, I too got your information from Royce, and am glad I did.
    Thanks for sharing, I will keep checking in on you and Royce as I know you are great friends.

  4. Thanks Royce!!

    BJ & Cottonwood Quilter - thanks for stopping by my blog and for your kind comments!

  5. Hi Stefanie! Royce sent me here and I just had to see your design. I also have one of those folding boards and do plan to make a design wall. Thanks for the detail instructions and close ups of your hooks. I love the portability of that, as well.

    Thanks, Royce!

    Diana Bracy

  6. I've got an old cardboard cutting board folded up behind a bed or something, can't wait to dig it out and get this made! Hopefully it will be ready and done before my December retreat. Oh, and since I don't have a shower curtain grommet thingy, I am just going to hang it using jumbo binder clips with the command hooks!!


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