General Tutorials

Make A Design Wall You Can Use Your Hera Marker Against

Welcome to Day 3 of the Back to School Blog Hop. Hello and if this is your first time visiting my blog, welcome! I’m Yvonne and my blog and business name is Quilting Jetgirl which is a blend between my current profession (I am a quilt pattern designer and technical editor for the quilting industry) and my former professional career as an aerospace engineer. I think you might pick up on some of that engineering background today as I share about the why and how to make a design wall that you can use your Hera marker against.

Pulsar - Marking Quilting Lines

Pulsar – Marking Quilting Lines on My Design Wall

In December 2020, my husband and I moved into a 512 square foot cottage. The previous (and original) owner was in his 90s and when he moved, he left a lot of items he no longer needed behind. In order to make the most out of the space we had, we repurposed his custom built wooden bookshelves to make a divider between the kitchen and living room. The bookshelves became our temporary kitchen pantry and I stapled some batting on the backside of the bookshelves to create a design wall. I discovered that with the hard wood behind my design wall, I could mark all of my quilting lines using my Hera marker while the quilt top was on the design wall. Later, when we were able to finish the renovations to the cottage, I was back to using the floor which was much more uncomfortable and hard on my back.

Sesen - Hera Marker

Sesen – Using a Hera Marker to Mark Quilting Lines on My Design Wall

I *love* using a Hera marker to mark reference quilting lines. If you have struggled to see Hera marker lines as you quilt or if are looking for more information about using a Hera marker, I have another Tips post (Tips for Using a Hera Marker) that shows how to set up your lighting at your machine so you can see the marked lines as you quilt.

In July 2022, my husband and I moved again. In our new space, I have a dedicated sewing studio. I have been so excited getting the space set up just the way I want, and the final step for me this week was to build out a custom design wall that I can use my Hera marker against, and I’ll talk you through the steps we took so you can consider if it’s the right choice for you, too!

Step 1 Evaluate Room

Step 1 – Evaluate Location for Design Wall

The first thing to consider is where you can position a design wall in your space. In my studio, my design wall is on the North wall just to the right of my fabric stash. When my studio door is open, a portion of the design wall will be tucked behind the door. Due to the size of my room, I can accommodate having a permanent design wall, meaning that I am going to mount my design wall directly to the wall. If your space is more limited, it might make more sense to have portable boards that can be tucked out of the way. The most important thing to consider when you are evaluating the location for a design wall in your space, is the common size for materials: 4ft wide by 8ft tall. Also keep in mind that the standard sizes can be cut down smaller. For instance, my ceiling height doesn’t allow for the full 8 feet in height.

2 Consider and Measure Obstructions (Outlets, Light Switches, etc.)

Step 2 – Consider and Measure Obstructions (Outlets, Light Switches, etc.)

When planning out the positioning of my design wall, we were happy to find it was going to be possible to fit two 4ft wide boards along the wall, and we were really happy to find that we could put the joint between the two pieces on one side of the outlet on the wall. The positioning of the outlet meant we could cut a hole for the outlet on the edge of the right-hand board. This is much easier than if we needed to cut the hole in the middle of a board.

Step 3 - Take Lots of Measurements

Step 3 – Take Lots of Measurements

In addition to taking a lot of measurements, snapping pictures of those measurements can be really helpful to refer back to later. I was really grateful to have the photograph of the height of the outlet above the baseboard, for instance, because I initially marked the location 1″ too low. Thankfully we referred back to this photo before cutting!

Step 3 - Take Lots of Measurements

Step 3 – Take Lots of Measurements

The baseboards in my studio are very nice, so my plan included placing my design wall on top of the baseboard. In order to make sure that my design wall would fit, I took 5 or 6 measurements of the height of the room above the baseboard along the length of the wall.

Step 3 - Take Lots of Measurements

Step 3 – Take Lots of Measurements

I found that the height of the wall varied by about 1/4″. On the far right, the wall was only about 83 1/2″ tall. On the far left, it was about 83 3/4″ tall. To make sure the design wall fit, I chose to make my wall 83″ tall. 83″ is one inch shorter than 7 feet, so that meant I’d be cutting 13″ off the edge of my design wall material.

Step 4 - Collect Materials

Step 4 – Collect Materials

I chose to purchase 2 sheets of 4ft by 8ft thin (12mm) cabinet grade plywood as the base for my design wall. I wanted the plywood to have a nice finish so there would be no roughness or splinters, but I didn’t need for it to be very thick because I plan to mount the plywood directly to my wall. In this way, I can press with my Hera Marker as firmly as I want against the design wall without fear of scoring a softer surface (like drywall or foam insulation) that many other design walls are made out of.

If you need your design wall to be portable, something that can be tucked out of the way and then leaned against your wall when needed, I would still opt for cabinet grade plywood, but I would balance the thickness of the wood with the weight you can handle moving around. The thicker the plywood, the more sturdy your design wall will be if it needs to lean against your wall, but the heavier it will be to move.

In addition, note I removed the outlet cover to use as a template.

Step 5 - Mark Cutting Lines

Step 5 – Mark Cutting Lines

Once your materials are gathered, mark any areas that need to be cut on your base material. In my case, I needed to cut each of my two boards down from 8ft (96″) to 83″.

Step 5 - Mark Cutting Lines

Step 5 – Mark Cutting Lines

On the lower left hand edge of the right hand design wall board, I used the outlet cover as a template and then offset those lines by about 1/8″ to allow for a little wiggle room in the positioning of the outlet.

Step 6 - Cut and Sand

Step 6 – Cut and Sand

Using the tools available to you, cut along any marked lines. We used a jigsaw to cut out the outlet hole and then we used sandpaper to smooth out and round the edges. Note that most hardware stores will cut plywood to specified sizes for you if you know what you need. I don’t think they would be able to cut holes for outlet covers or light switches for you, but if you need your plywood cut down in height like I did, you can get that done before you leave the hardware store.

Step 7 - Mark Studs

Step 7 – Mark Studs

After a quick test fit to confirm that the boards would fit along the wall, using a stud detector, we marked the location of studs in the wall along the ceiling using masking tape.

Step 8 - Install First Board

Step 8 – Install First Board

Because the location of the outlet was the most important for the right hand board, we began by positioning the right hand board. When we were happy with the location of the board left to right by the outlet, we put one screw in about the center of the board into a stud at the top edge. By only using a single screw, it allowed us to nudge the board just a little bit as we fit the second board on the left next.

Step 9 - Install Second Board

Step 9 – Install Second Board

Once the left hand board was butted firmly against the right, we were able to add screws around the entire perimeter of the boards. Using the pieces of tape on the ceiling as a reference, we were able to firmly screw the boards to studs.

Step 10 - Design Wall Boards Installed

Step 10 – Design Wall Boards Installed

Note that we also added screws along each side (even in the middle joint).

Step 11 - Staple Batting to Boards

Step 11 – Staple Batting to Boards

With the boards in place, we used staples to position slightly stretched batting across the boards.

If you are making a portable design wall, I would consider wrapping the batting around to the back of the plywood and securing it on the back side of the boards.

Step 12 - Cut Batting around Outlet

Step 12 – Cut Batting around Outlet

To gain access to the outlet, I cut an “X” in the batting across the face of the outlet.

Step 12 - Cut Batting around Outlet

Step 12 – Cut Batting around Outlet

And I simply tucked the excess batting underneath to expose the outlet. I may opt to trim these triangles off fully in the future.

Step 13 - Enjoy Design Wall

Step 13 – Enjoy Design Wall!

After stapling the batting the the plywood, we trimmed any excess batting around the edges.

Bonus: Batting Roll Storage

Bonus: Batting Roll Storage

The final touch we added to my studio this week was a quick storage solution for a roll of batting. We simply mounted two closet hanger tube brackets to studs in the wall under my fabric stash shelving. Then, we cut a piece of conduit to length and added 1″ rubber feet tips to either end of the conduit. I’ll be able to pull what I need off of the roll of batting quickly and easily!

Bonus: Batting Roll Storage Detail

Bonus: Batting Roll Storage Detail

For more details about my new sewing studio, you can visit my previous blog posts:

I hope this tutorial helps you feel confident making your own design wall that you can use with a Hera marker using materials you can find at your local hardware store. Be sure to follow along with the rest of the Back to School blog hop, which is full of great tips and tricks to take your quilting up a notch. Happy quilting!

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Thank You!

Thank you so much for visiting today; I just love getting to connect with the quilting community. If you would like to continue to follow along with me on my quilting journey, you can email subscribe to follow my blog using the menu on the right hand side of this page or follow me using any of the options linked to below. Happy quilting!

11 thoughts on “Make A Design Wall You Can Use Your Hera Marker Against

  1. Cindy Pieters says:

    Your sewing room has really come together nicely. Great tips for your design wall and to be able to use a hera marker on it is a wonderful bonus.

  2. Patty says:

    Love your new sewing space and such a great solution for the batting.

  3. Thank you, Yvonne, for this helpful post. This would definitely be easier than crawling around on the floor!

  4. aquilterstable says:

    Very nice review of what you did for your design wall – thank you! I can defintely see what having a hard surface would be helpful for the way you mark your quilts. I really like your batting ‘storage’ also – I would find that solution very handy.

  5. Rochelle Summers says:

    Another great post, Yvonne. I loved seeing the different steps. You make it look so easy. I also like the storage for your roll of batting. I particularly like the little detail of the rubber feet on the ends of the rod. They will certainly protect the wall and your hands.

  6. Jasmine @ Quilt Kisses says:

    Your design wall looks great! It makes sense to have a board behind it for the Hera marker. I think it is exciting for you to have a dedicated studio space again.

  7. Sheri says:

    Thank you for the post! I started looking at materials on the Home Depot website. Do you think even thinner plywood would work? They have some that are 5.2 mm. Thanks again!

    1. Great question! Thinner plywood would definitely work if:

      1) you plan to mount it directly to the wall (I think 5.2mm might be too thin for a stand alone / portable design wall), and
      2) it is still cabinet grade / nicely finished.

      1. Sheri says:

        Perfect! Thank you!

  8. Wonderful way to make a design wall. I love what you did and love the batting roll, too. This is a lovely working space.

  9. Such fun to start with a blank slate so to speak and create this wonderful dedicated space!

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)