Design boards

One thing I realised while working on my Dear Jane quilt was that I needed a better way of laying out all of the many small pieces, especially for the complex hand-pieced blocks.

I have been following Lori Holt’s Bee in My Bonnet blog (her row-along is adorable) and noticed the mini design boards Lori uses. Using her tutorial as a starting point, I made my own.

Instead of using foam board as Lori does, I bought 6-millimetre foam (available from Clark Rubber in Australia). It is not as stiff as her foam board, but stiff enough for the job. I have used it in the past for making needle cases and block keepers.

For each board, I cut one 10-inch square of foam and two 10-inch squares from offcuts of quilt wadding.

Quilter's design board materials: foam and quilt wadding offcuts

To make a simple design board, you just need foam and quilt wadding offcuts.

I used a glue stick to hold the wadding in place on either side of the foam, and then I used my sewing machine’s walking foot and the longest stitch setting to tack the three layers together, close to the raw edges. I adjusted the foot pressure to allow for the thickness. My sewing was not too precise: I just needed the stitches to be close enough to the edge to be hidden by the binding.

From that point, I treated it as a rather fat quilt that needed binding. As the design boards will not have to withstand frequent washing, I just used 1½-inch single-thickness strips to bind them. Normally, I bind my quilts with 2½-inch strips cut on the bias.

Joining mitred quilt binding

Although I only used single-thickness binding, I mitred the joins as always to avoid bulk.

I ironed a rough ¼-inch hem on one long edge of the binding before sewing it on as I did not want the iron close to the foam later. I was worried the heat might make the foam melt!

I used a long machine stitch and my quarter-inch walking foot to sew the binding on. My machine did not like the thickness of the foam and skipped a few stitches. When that happened, I just sewed over the same spot again. Finally, I roughly hand-sewed the unfinished edge down.

A quarter-inch walking foot, tacking layers of foam and quilt wadding together to make a quilter’s design board

I used my quarter-inch walking foot to tack the layers together and to sew on the binding.

Binding a quilter's design board

The same method as binding a quilt was used, but with just a single thickness.

Before I started, I had thought about adding a hinge and ties, and joining the two boards together as a folder, but I discarded that idea early on.

My favourite thing? The way they sit nicely on the tiny easel I recently was given. (It was a former store display, but the store closed.)

Quilter's design board

Here is my finished design board, displaying the pieces of Dear Jane block M11 (wrong side facing). I made two the same, and the spare board sits to one side.


2 thoughts on “Design boards

  1. Great design board! I have something similar- I stapled batting to a canvas from the art shop. Its only small because that’s all I have room for, but it is invaluable!

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