Learn how to make a quilt design wall! Choose the best materials to use and learn how to hang a design wall for quilting in your sewing space.
I don’t know about you, but playing with quilt blocks, fabrics, and colors is one of my very favorite things to do. Up until recently, I would do this either on our cutting table (which is large, but not that large!), or – more often – on the floor. Which is, in case you didn’t know, quite a hassle. I don’t know if it’s because we’re getting old(er) haha, but doing gymnastics over a quilt layout on the floor is not my idea of fun.
So we decided it was time we upgraded our sewing room and got ourselves a design wall for quilting! I honestly don’t know how we haven’t thought about that sooner. But I think we just thought it was a bigger investment than it is.
And I’m guessing many of you might have the same preconceived notion. That’s why I’ve decided to put together a quilt design wall guide. To show you just how easy (and cheap!) it is to make one and to convince you you need one in your life like yesterday.
What is a quilt design wall?
A quilt design wall is a space that is specifically dedicated to laying out and arranging quilt blocks or quilt designs. It is usually a large, flat (vertical like most walls haha) surface that is covered with a special fabric or batting that allows quilt blocks to stick to it. Quilt design walls can be made from a variety of materials – we’ll get to that in a minute.
I know what you’re thinking. Do I really need a design wall? I am getting pretty good at laying out all my blocks all over the living room floor and then walking on my tiptoes around them trying to assess my layout. (Is that just me?)
Well, I am here to tell you that a quilt design wall is a game changer. It makes experimenting with different layouts and color combinations so much easier. With a design wall, you see what you’re making before you stitch the blocks together. You can easily rearrange blocks, swap out colors, and try different patterns until you find the perfect combination. The design wall is also great to check for symmetry and balance in the overall design.
Have I convinced you yet? Even if I haven’t keep on reading, because once you see how easy it is to make a design wall you’ll be converted.
What is the best material for a quilt design wall?
There are several materials that can be used for a design wall for quilting. What you’ll end up using depends largely on the space you have available and how you’ll attach it to the wall (or door or whatever surface you are using).
Here are some commonly used materials for quilt design walls:
- Flannel – Flannel fabric is a popular choice for quilt design walls because it has a slight “tooth” to it, which allows quilt blocks to stick to it without slipping. It also has a soft texture that won’t damage delicate quilt blocks.
- Felt – Felt is another popular choice for quilt design walls because it is thick and has a slightly sticky surface that holds quilt blocks in place. It is also durable and can withstand repeated use.
- Batting – It’s easy to see why many quilters choose batting for their design wall. It’s just something we always have at hand, right? And we all know how quilting cotton sticks to batting (even when you don’t want it).
- Insulation foam board – If you’d prefer pinning your blocks to the design wall, an insulation foam board is a great option. It’s sturdy and lightweight making it perfect for a design wall. It is also relatively inexpensive and can be cut to the desired size. If you want, you can still cover the foam board with your preferred material (you can follow this quilt design wall tutorial).
- Vinyl tablecloth with flannel backing – many quilters opt for a flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth (hanged flannel side out!). These tablecloths tend to be pretty easy to hang and the flannel side provides a great surface to stick your quilt blocks to.
Whatever material you choose, I suggest you go with a neutral solid color. As a quilter, I get how you might be tempted to turn your design wall into wall art, but assessing your blocks and colors might be impossible against a non-solid background.
How to attach a quilting design wall?
There are different ways to attach your chosen quilt design wall material. When choosing the best way to attach your design wall for quilting, consider:
- the size (and therefore) weight and thickness of the chosen material;
- the surface you’ll be attaching the material to (i.e. are you attaching it to a wall, a wooden door, etc.);
- how permanent (or not permanent) you want the solution to be.
I’m sure any handyman will give you a whole lot more options for attaching a quilting design wall in a heartbeat. But here are some of the most common I’ve seen quilters use:
- Adhesive strips (also commonly known as Command Strips) – Command Strips are adhesive strips that can be used to attach lightweight design wall material to a wall. Simply attach the strips to the back of the chosen material and then press onto the surface you want to attach it to. This method is great for temporary design walls or if you don’t want to damage the walls. (I’d still do a test on a hidden spot, to see if you can later take it off without damaging the walls.)
- Self adhesive velcro tape – Velcro can be used to attach a design wall to a wall or other surface. Attach one side of the Velcro to the back of the design wall material and the other side to the wall or surface.
- Nails or screws – For a permanent design wall, you can attach it to the wall using nails or screws.
- Strong adhesive tape – while it may not be the prettiest option, it does the job. Simply tape your design wall to the wall with a strong enough tape (painter’s tape won’t do the trick here).
- Curtain rod and rings – if you’re limited on space consider installing a curtain rod (or even taking advantage of one you have installed over your windows) and using curtain rings with clips to hang the design wall material. This way you can put the design wall away when you’re not using it.
As I’ve said, it’s hard to say which solution will work best for you. Whatever you choose, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure you get the best results.
What is a good size for a quilting design wall?
When planning your design wall I’d say make it a bit larger than what your largest quilts are. If you plan to lay out entire quilt tops (which you will, I promise!) you want to have enough space for all the pieces. So take the dimensions of the largest quilts you make and add some extra inches for seam allowances between blocks etc.
We wanted to make the most use of the surface we had available. So ours came out at about 64’’ by 70’’.
How to Make a Quilt Design Wall
The process of making a quilt design wall will depend quite a lot on what material you’ll be using and the surface you’ll be attaching the design wall to. In this tutorial, I’ll take you through the steps we took to make the design wall in our studio. We used a large wooden sliding door as the base and batting as the actual design wall material.
Steps to Make a Quilt Design Wall:
Choose a location and measure: Pick a spot in your home or workspace where you can dedicate a wall to your quilt design. This should be a space that is easily accessible and well-lit. Measure the dimensions of the available surface.
Measure and cut batting: cut a piece of batting to fit the dimensions of your wall. Iron the batting, if needed. (For other design wall material options, please read the tips above.)
Hang the batting: using nails and a hammer, attach the batting to the surface. Start at the top of the wall and work your way down, smoothing out any wrinkles or bumps as you go. (For other design wall hanging options, please read the tips above.)
And that’s it! Your quilt design wall is ready for your next project. I told you it was easy!
I can’t tell you how much easier it is to arrange blocks and assess different combinations now that we have the design wall. We can’t imagine quilting life without it, it’s that good!
Do you have a design wall in your sewing space? Do you use it frequently? I am 100% sure you do, but I would love to hear all about your experience! Share in the comments below!