Years ago I never thought about the angle at which quilts would be viewed. I simply laid the pieces on the floor or on the bed, rearranged the blocks to what looked OK, and sewed them together. Today, however, I realize that how quilts are viewed during construction compared with after they are made may be totally different. The perspective is totally different when looking at a quilt on an angle on the floor or bed versus straight on when on the wall. As a result, I have found that using a design wall is essential to audition and make choices on the patch colors in a block, block placement, fabric colors, border and binding choices. In fact, seeing the quilt take shape on a design has even changed some of the choices previously made because they simply didn’t contribute to the quilt as I once thought they would.
What is a design wall?
A design wall is simply a vertical space that is large enough to audition anything from block
patches to a quilt. It can be any size that meets the quilter’s needs. Some design walls are inexpensive or an easy DIY project, others are more costly. My small design “wall” is a 18″x24″ foam core board with a flannel pillowcase over it. I use it to audition block patches and to layer block patches for sewing. It is close to my sewing machine, keeps the patches organized, making it easy to pick up the patches when stitching them together. My other design wall is larger and attached to a wall in my studio.
Design Wall Options
- Flannel backed table cloth. Very inexpensive and easy to tack up on any wall surface. Flannel backed table cloths can be purchased in a range of sizes. The largest size, however, would not be big enough for a large quilt.
- Flannel covered insulating board. This is a relatively easy DIY project made from 2’x8’ or 4’x8’ insulation board available from a home improvement store. It is light weight, yet strong enough to lean or fasten on a wall. Use this link for instructions to make this project. http://christaquilts.com/2013/11/11/a-new-design-wall/ Instructions for other similar projects are also available online.
- Portable design walls. Offered in different sizes, this design wall is made of a light weight frame with flannel stretched across it. This type of design wall would be ideal if it needed to be used at a class, moved from one room to another, or had no permanent location. http://www.cherylannsdesignwall.com/
- Mounted retractable roller design wall. When delivering a Longarm system a couple of years ago, I discovered this unique product at our customer’s studio. Mounted on a wall or over a closet, this design wall pulls down, like a shade, offering space to audition a quilt. The beauty of his product is that it takes up very little space and can easily be rolled up out of view or allowing access to whatever is behind the design wall. It can even be rolled up with the patches or blocks still on it as illustrated in the photo. This would make an ideal design wall in a small sewing area where a larger fixed design wall would not be possible. http://www.design-a-way.com/
Regardless of how much quilting you do, the design wall is an important “tool” that allows you to visualize the finished quilt helping you make good design choices. Besides having a design wall, make sure you also have good lighting.
For those on Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/explore/quilt-design-wall/