mini block design boards {a tutorial}


I have admired studios, and craft rooms and sewing spaces of so many of my favourite bloggers, sewers and quilters for what seems like years now. And so with the new year I was determined to give mine the update {and clean out} both it and I deserved… {I’m telling myself it was deserved to justify it ok?!}.


A few months ago we updated the cupboard in this room, mainly because it was too easy for little hands to access all the baskets of notions and precut fabrics {and so my jelly rolls aren’t all cute little rolls anymore but rather mangled messes of fabric strips!} but also because my fabrics and supplies were out-growing the small cupboard I had {shamed to say… or not!}.


Part of this update was to give myself a design wall – not a whole wall {as I so dearly wished} due to space but components of a design wall to keep me motivated, and inspired and on track with projects. Am so determined this year not to have a million projects on the go at once – I work better without chaos in my life so same must go for the quilting and sewing projects. After some careful {or just-because} planning, and serious craft-room stalking I decided that I would love a design board {with batting} for quilt block planning and admiring {!}, and a mood board for fabric swatches, inspiration and all the other bits and pieces I tend to hoard, as well as photos and personal touches. I have decided to mount these above my sewing cabinet – it is after all where I spend a lot of my time, and focus a fair bit of my attention.


{yeah so these threads aren’t all neatly stacked like that anymore… rather stashed in one of the drawers of my new cupboard!}

This tutorial is part one of my design wall project, and is instruction for design boards using batting for all those quilt blocks and pre-cut fabric pieces. I managed to have {quite conveniently} two ikea frames that I bought {for about $5 each} back when I first did up my sewing room and office for two poster prints. These are the el-cheapo frames that have plastic instead of glass – super light and super-easy to refashion into my design boards. Added bonus is I can re-use the plastic ‘glass’ as template plastic… win-win girls!


– frame {I used ikea square frames due to quilt blocks ordinarily being square but any large frame would do}.
– paint
– brush {if hand-painting}
– quilt batting {enough to cover back of your frame with about an inch and a half overhang}
– staple gun


– Take your frame apart, carefully removing any glass. Discard paper insert. You will be working with the frame and the card/ply backing.

– Clean frame with cloth to remove any dust/grime. Lightly sand if varnished timber.

– Cut your quilt batting piece using the backing as a guide. You want about an inch to an inch and a half to overhang. This will be used later to attach to the underside of your frame back.


– Paint your frame using spray paint or brush giving it a couple of coats. I find that spray paint works best with these projects, making them nice and quick and giving an even coat. Unfortunately spray paint colours can be limited in Australia so it may be better to have a sample pot of your selected colour made up.


taubman’s deep watermelon {such a gorgeous colour}


keep your spray can at a distance of about a foot to ensure an even coverage – give it a couple of coats


if hand-painting use your first coat to get a good cover of paint. lightly sand once dry and add your second coat making sure to touch up any lighter {or missed} spots

– Using a staple gun, carefully secure your quilt batting to the frame back. If using ikea frames a heavy-duty office stapler may work fine. Start by securing the middle of one side, then pulling gently {not too taut to rip or damage the batting} and stapling the other side. Work your way around the frame back securing opposite sides.

– My husband has a theory on the corners – you fold the corner down and secure, then one side and secure, then the other. Just like a mitred corner on a quilt… secure your corners however you wish, but try to reduce bulk so it assembles nicely back in frame.


– Many hanging frames will have a piece attached the the back or that secures over the edge of the back like this one. Carefully trim your batting to expose the hanging piece, or carefully wedge back on ready for finishing.


– Once dry you can finish your design board by placing the covered frame back, back into the painted frame.
– Secure using frame clips
– Hang in place and add a quilt block or two!



and this one’s my keeping it real photo {that pile on the bottom right is fabric pulled for a ‘vintage’ baby quilt in an old traditional design}

Hope you enjoyed part one of the design wall tutorials – my mood board tutorial will be posted soon {just have to source a big enough frame – which requires a trip to town!}.


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    • says

      Thanks for your comment Missy – felt or flannel would work perfectly also – any texture for your fabric or blocks to bond to. Would make it much cheaper also. I used batting off cuts I had from larger pieces, but understand that not everyone has these lying around!
      Thanks for your suggestion and also for stopping by to say hi!

  1. says

    What an excellent idea. We have a really big frame that we bought from a garage sale for $5 for the funny picture inside, but, now that the novelty has worn off, we don’t hang it anymore. Since then I haven’t been able to figure out what to do with the frame. Now I know!

  2. says

    This is a great idea! I’ve always yearned for a design wall too, but unfortunately there just isn’t any spare wall space in my sewing room. I dream of one day having an extra large room to fulfil all my wants, but for now I’ll just have to make do! xx

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