Design Wall – A Photo Tutorial

I’m still waiting for the full Molli Sparkles exposé to hit fine book stores everywhere. Of course it will be an A3 coffee table book, full of glossy, unauthorised photos showing me at late night cocktail parties, early dawn sewing sessions, and surrounded by scantily clad Glitterati at all angles. I keep calling the paps to let them know I’m primed for my hidden camera shots (ya know, hair and makeup a mess, but composed enough still to look fabulously important). Yet, each week when I exit the botox clinic with pout poised, hands raised to cheeks and eyes slightly ajar, expecting an onslaught of flashes, I’m met with nothing! Nothing. Don’t they know who I am? Ugh.

All this to say, there’s no better way to tell a story than with pictures. So when building my design wall, I tried to capture each step with a photo so that I could share a brief tutorial on how I made mine. You might not have all of these materials available to you, but it should give you some guidance or inspiration that you can customise for your own space. As for its usefulness: it’s only been three days with mine, and it’s already changed my creative life.

1. I bought six pieces of multi-use foam board from Bunnings, which is a DIY, hardware, and garden retailer. If you’re in the US, have a look at Home Depot.

2. This is the brand, size, and material information. Each piece cost $12.50 AUD for a total of $75.00 AUD. (Approximately $58.00 USD).

3. I laid them all out on the floor to even them up and understand the total size. This design wall was going to be 1.8m wide x 2.4m high. (That’s about 6′ x 8′).

4. I used Scotch Tough Duct tape for my initial tapings. At Bunnings it is about $17.00 AUD ($13.00 USD).

5. I kept adding tape to both sides until the entire structure was stable. And, until I ran out of tape.

6. I started preparing my Kaffe Fassett Design Wall Fabric (see next image). I purchased this while in Singapore at a going out of business sale for about $11.00 AUD ($7.50 USD). They had six metres left, so I bought all of it. However, I only used about five metres, so $55.00 AUD ($42.00 USD).

7. This fabric is still widely available, and here’s all the details that you’ll need to track it down. It is a flannel, so it is extremely soft, and fabric sticky.

8. I knew I would need to sew two runs of the fabric to get the width I needed. I tried using glue basting to line up all the grid lines when sewing the pieces together. It didn’t work. I think the fabric just soaked up the glue instead.

9. So I used a lot of pins, and still had to sew it, rip it out, and sew it again.

10. I cut off the extra seam material and added it to my selvage scrap bin.

11. Once sewn together and face down on the floor, I knew it had to be ironed.

12. Ironing didn’t seem to help a lot. I centred the fabric seam line to the centre of my foam boards.

13. I made a dash back to Bunnings to pick up more tape. This time I bought generic PVC duct tape that cost $3.50 AUD ($2.70 USD). I folded the fabric around the foam boards as if I were wrapping a present. Then I smothered it in tape. I am still dubious about using the generic tape, but so far so good! I made a concerted effort to ensure the lines were even on all sides, as well as the fabric being pulled as taut as possible.

14. I hung the whole thing on the wall using six pairs of these 3M Command Brand picture hanging strips which cost $10.00 AUD ($7.50 USD).

15. Voilà, a design wall! Final cost $143.50 AUD ($110.00 USD). The paps really need to get a shot of this impressive instant!


28 Responses

  1. That fabric must be the best ever for a design wall. Have you not had one before? This will revolutionise your displays!!! I bought 2 offcut sheets of foam, straightened the edge, and did a sort of pillowcase cover with with flannel on the side I use, made it very tight, then hand sewed the flap end closed. They stand, one in front of the other, in the width I had available. Yours is fabulous hanging there in all its glory, wide and tall, how soon will we get the pics of it in use?? How are your days with the heat? Just over here, ( in New Zealand, in case some of your readers do not know we are just separated by a ditch of sea water !!) 31C for the weekend days, 32C on Monday. Send over some cool please.

  2. Karen Seitz says:

    Fantastic! And I didn’t know design wall fabric existed, so thanks for that hot tip.

  3. Lisa says:

    Once again you have inspired me. Your wall is fab!!! I had used just plain washi tape to try and line things up but still not accurate. Once I get settled somewhere, I am definitely going to build one.

  4. Margo says:

    What a nice looking design wall!! I also made my own design wall but used fleece instead of flannel. I know everyone said to use flannel, but for some reason, my squares and blocks stay up better on fleece.

  5. Maria Porter says:

    Brilliant idea, Molli. My hubby made me a wall from really heavy timber; he concertinaed (is that ever a word) the three boards together and then I put some design wall fabric (purchased from Spotlight) over the boards. The fabric is held to the boards with bulldog clips. I don’t have the luxury of being able to keep the wall up all the time, so it is packed up (hence the concertina type boards), and kept in the pantry when not in use. I told my man that it needs to have wheels, as the three boards together are pretty heavy!

  6. Katie says:

    Looks great. I have a foam insulation design wall. I just recovered it this weekend with new flannel. For some strange reason I don’t understand I chose a white flannel with a tiny pink flower print. It looks like I threw a crib sheet up on the wall! lol It’ll do for now. 😀

  7. Debbie says:

    This is awesome! Mine is gray too – because I’d heard that Kaffe himself said gray was perfect. You’re going to love using that wall!

  8. Cathy says:

    Looks fab.
    I made one recently from some large cardboard boxes following a recent house move.
    Has totally transformed the design process.

  9. Carrolyn says:

    You contiue to inspire me……

  10. leanne says:

    I’m really interested to know how the fabric is with loose threads – I have a design wall that I think has some kind of poly in it and it holds onto loose threads like you wouldn’t believe !!

  11. Patty Fox says:

    Mine, constructed and adhered similarily, eventually fell down.

  12. Lace Faerie says:

    Yaooza! That looks awesome! I wrap my sliding closet doors (2 closed together is 6 feet), wrapped them in cream flannel sheets I found on clearance. I was shocked o realize they sun bleached to white as n only a couple ea even tho’ the room gets only bright indirect lgh!

  13. Deb says:

    Clever clogs!

  14. Amanda says:

    Top job Darls, I’ve been using fabric tape, from Bunnings, for awhile it’s so very sticky I once thought it would peel my skin off.

  15. Jess says:

    Immeasurably more stylish than my batting offcuts nailed to a plywood wall in my studio aka garage 😉 Having a design wall will change your life!

  16. Suz Kuhns says:

    been thinking of making a design wall – this is a huge help – and I just ordered the fabric from Hancock of Paducah (for $9.75 US)!

  17. Brenda Iwami says:

    Well done!

  18. Sue Kaiser says:

    Love this!!

  19. Linda says:

    I used foam insulation and the scotch duck tape came off after a few weeks. So I tried basting spray (spraying wall and flannel all over – ten times easier and has lasted for a long time. I like using three long pueces that I wrap individually. I can easily move it outside for pics.

  20. Kathleen says:

    Great job, and I bet it was some trick to get those lines to stay straight while pulling the fabric taut. I still use a flannel-backed vinyl table cloth. Works for me. The vintage type table cloths have the best flannel backing.

  21. Amy says:

    Great job. I love having a design wall. This is my third place where I’ve been able to do so, and it’s my largest – almost 8 x 12 feet. My husband helped put it up. We used three full-sized sheets of foam insulation board (approx. 3/4rds inch thick) and covered each board with a wide white flannel. Then we attached it to the wall with double-sided carpet tape and screwed the corners down to be safe. It’s large enough I can work on two projects at the same time, but is also perfect for larger quilts.

  22. Sue says:

    You have created a design wall dream! Thanks for a tutorial with an Australian supply list!

  23. This is SO great!! I imagine it is fairly easy to disassemble and move so I am going to check out our local DIY store and see if I can find something to use. Right now I’ve pinned a small (probably 1 x 1.5 or 2 meter) batting to the wall, and of course it’s too small. I use the floor frequently, which really is not ideal!

  24. Amy L says:

    It is a beauty to behold. Now we want to see it in action!

  25. grannyonabroomstick says:

    Oh Molly, me darlin’ Molly, you such a clever little dick !!!!

  26. Rochelle S says:

    Very cool. Thanks for the tute.

  27. Mania says:

    I made the wall Styrofoam with a thickness of 2 cm used in construction. He clipped it to the truss with a 1.5 cm thick wooden slats. On top was covered batting Termolin (80g / 180cm wide) hairy side at the top – meets the same function as your flannel from Kaffe Fassett, but no the grid. I am very happy with it!
    Greetings from Poland !

  28. Wow, this is looks so perfect! That grid surely makes arranging so much easier. As I can’t spend too much for my … (hobby) work, I was happy to find some advertising boards and coverd them with fleece blanket. Works like a dream and changed my life! My no-sewing friends were so amazed to realize that I just ‘throw’ the blocks on it and they don’t fell down! x Teje

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