Monday, March 3, 2014

Design Boards

I saw some design boards on a group on Facebook.  I have been meaning to make something similar to take the place of my rotating cutting mat that I set next to my machine to set up my blocks for piecing.  This is where I set all sorts of things; my scissors, my seam ripper (devil!) and bits.  Today I finally got my act together and made them.  I figured I would share my process.
I am using this piece of foam-core board as my foundation.  It is lightweight and inexpensive.  First, I measured my rotating mat and found I could make two. 

Two is always better than one!
I used my rotary cutter to trim the pieces.  I wouldn't do this with a new blade, but this blade totally needs to be changed, so I had no problem using it for something other than fabric.  Cut size is 14" square.
The next step is to cut batting to fit.  I went with a piece that is 1/2" larger on all sides. (15" x 15")
Then, I cut the fabric at 3/4" larger than the batting on all sides.  (16.5" x 16.5" but you should check my math.  Heck, don't use my math, use your ruler.)
I used hot glue to attach my batting and fabric to my boards.  Use what you are comfortable with.  If you do something else, I would love to hear about your method.  First, I tacked down each corner and let it cool.
Then, I put a bead of glue along the edge and pulled the batting over the edge to that line.  Careful, they don't call it HOT glue for nothing.
I wanted to pull the batting tight over the edge, so I did one side, then the opposite side.  Call them left and right or top and bottom, it doesn't matter as long as they are opposing.  I started in the center and moved out to the corners, tugging a little to keep the batting tight over the surface of the board.  I did the miters on the corners last since they can take a little of pulling and prodding to look even close to nice.  Ultimately, these will be covered up with tape, so it isn't a big deal.
I used my seam ripper (devil!) to make them a little tidier.  Shown here with the fabric layer, but it is the same method.
Once you have all the batting glued down, it is time to repeat it with the fabric layer.

I'm not going to go through all the steps, but I thought it was important to share this shot.  I put the bead of glue just along the edge of the batting.  This made sure I was attaching the fabric to the board and not to the batting.  I want the fabric to be stretched a little and be held taut and I don't think that will happen if you are trying to glue the fabric to the batting.
I used some 2" masking tape to cover up all the raw edges on the back.  This will keep those frayed edges from fraying any more or the fabric from getting caught.  Again, I did opposing sides first.  This was mostly just my preference, but I did find it easy to line up the second set.  I'm sure I could have done something else that would have been prettier, but this will do the job.

I trimmed the corners like a miter, but not a perfect one.  I just wanted it to be neat and I figured it would be easier to overlap the ends cut on a diagonal (even a not precise one) than trying to get right angles to line up perfectly.  Do what you think looks good or you are comfortable with.
When I was done, I had two at 14" x 14" and one at 12" x 12" that I had to tape together from the leftovers.
I can now use my rotating mat instead of using it to hold up my squares and scissors.  

Please, let me know if you use this tutorial to make your own design boards.  I don't have a design wall, so this is going to be handy for auditioning at least a few blocks.


  1. Great idea and nice job. I have a flannel-backed tablecloth hanging on the wall that acts as my design wall. Unfortunately, I have a cutting table and a chair blocking easy access. I still use it but it's not very handy. Your boards look interesting but I would need an easel-type stand since I don't have wall space near my machine. Food for thought...

  2. Very nice problem solving there! Good for you. :)

  3. I use my portable design wall to bring items over to the sewing table, but this smaller board is excellent for holding a block and being really stackable and portable. Thanks a lot!
    LeeAnna Paylor Not Afraid of Color!


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