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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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″.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Note that we also added screws along each side (even in the middle joint).
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.
To gain access to the outlet, I cut an “X” in the batting across the face of the 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.
After stapling the batting the the plywood, we trimmed any excess batting around the edges.
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!
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!
Back to School Blog Hop Schedule
- Sept 15 – Geeky Bobbin – Press for Success! – https://geekybobbin.com
- Sept 16 – Katie Mae Quilts – Storage Solutions From The School Supplies Section – https://katiemaequilts.com/blog
- Sept 17 – Quilting Jetgirl – Make A Design Wall You Can Use Your Hera Marker Against – https://quiltingjetgirl.com/
- Sept 18 – Karen Bolan – How to Get Perfect Tension – https://www.karenbolan.com
- Sept 19 – Devoted Quilter – How To Trim HSTs Without A Specialty Ruler – https://www.devotedquilter.com
- Sept 20 – Sarah Ruiz – Calculating Quilt Backing and Binding Fabric Requirements – saroy.net
- Sept 21 – Andy Knowlton – How To Sew Quilt Blocks With Partial Seams – https://www.abrightcorner.com/
- Sept 22 – Lisa Ruble – Curved Piecing Doesn’t Have To Be Scary (Or Perfect!) – quiltyzest.com
- Sept 23 – Sarah Goer Quilts – Tips for Piecing Precise Points – https://www.sarahgoerquilts.com
- Sept 24 – Faith and Fabric – Spinning Intersections On Four Patch Blocks – The Easy Way! – https://faithandfabricdesign.com
- Sept 25 – Judit Hajdu – Draw String Bag – For Lunch Or Gym – quiltfox-design.com
- Sept 26 – Sugar Sand Quilt Co. – The Care And Feeding Of The Wild Longarm Quilter – https://sugarsandquilts.com/
- Sept 27 – Hilary Jordan – Quick & Easy Pattern Matching Technique for Quilt Backings – https://byhilaryjordan.com/
- Sept 28 – True Blue Quilts – Sketch Then Stitch…Better FMQ Through Doodling – www.truebluequilts.com
- Sept 29 – Sunflower Quilting – A Quilting Tip – www.sunflowerstitcheries.com
- Sept 30 – Slightly Biased Quilts – Perfect Hand Binding Tips – www.slightlybiasedquilts.com
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!