Tutorial: Make a professional studio design wall

I created a tutorial for small design wall boards using Foam core that worked great in the small space of our condo. But, I wanted something larger and a little more professional grade for my new studio; and I wanted to be able to use either side of it.

Grey Design Wall Tutorial Banner


  • One FULL size set of solid-color flannel sheets*. I used these from Amazon.** NOTE: a friend told me last weekend that she tried this using the same sheets and when she washed them some of the grey washed out (like “tie-dye”); so I advise reading the reviews before buying them. I washed mine with no problem…
  • One 4′ x 8′ insulation foam board, 1″-thick (Purchased from our local home improvement store)
  • Sewing machine, tape measure, pinking shears (or scissors) for cutting fabric, seam ripper, thread, pins.

*You can use flannel yardage, but it will either need to be pieced, or you need to find extra wide flannel.  The only source I found was here, but it’s a little darker grey than I wanted, and roughly the same cost as the sheet set.

**note: many designers recommend grey for a design wall, as it is a “true neutral” as opposed to white or black.  It’s really your preference; I wanted grey.


1. Wash, dry, and press your flannel sheets.

2. From the fitted sheet, cut one rectangle 49.25″ x 98.75″ using pinking shears.  If you use scissors, you will want to zigzag stitch or serge around the edges first to avoid fraying.  The width of my board was really 47.5″, and the thickness was a true inch, so my fabric width was cut 47.5″ + 1″ + .75″ = 49.25 (the 1″ is for .5″ extending over each side, and the .75″ is for two .3875 {3/8}” seam allowances) The length has an extra 1″ for bottom side.

3. Before cutting the flat sheet, I had to remove the seam for the top fold, and the side seams. If your sheet is large enough, you can avoid removing the side seams and just cut them off.  If you are using flannel yardage, you can skip this step.

Design Wall from a flannel Sheet

4. Cut a rectangle from the flat sheet, that measures 49.25″ x 98.75″, using pinking shears.

5. Align your two large rectangles, right sides together, and pin every 6-8″ along edge.

6.  Sew along three sides, using a 3/8″ seam allowance, and reinforcing your corners (needle pivot point):

Sewing diagram

7. Turn right side out, and with the help of an extra set of hands, slide the flannel “sleeve” you just made onto your insulation board (it should fit nice and snug):

Sleeve Shot

8. Once you have the top and side edges fit the way you want it (seams should be along sides of your insulation board; adjust if the seams have twisted onto flat side of the foam board) pull the sleeve as taut as you can, and safety pin both layers of flannel together along the bottom edge of the board.

9. To finish, either hand sew the opening at the bottom closed like I did, or if you prefer a short-cut, use a stapler to close the bottom edge (It will never show!)

My design wall is free-standing, and reversible. Why reversible? If I have something lined up on it that I don’t want to take down, I can flip it around and use the other side for a different project without disturbing the first layout. This is how it looks in my studio:

Design Wall

If you do not want to be able to move it, or prefer to have it attached to the wall, you could use screws to attach it to the wall, like Katie did (I also love her dual design wall roll-up!) or use 4 pieces of mitered molding to hold the board in place (like a picture frame) and screw the molding into the wall instead of the board.

Angela has a great tutorial using quilt batting to cover a board and even includes how to make a cut out for an outlet.

If you want something that takes a little less time and money, consider the quick-and-dirty design wall how-tos here on the Martingale Blog.

Do you have a design wall, or do you use the floor–like I did for YEARS?

If you do have one, what do you use for a design wall?


9 thoughts on “Tutorial: Make a professional studio design wall

  1. Wow, yours looks really nice in the grey! I have a design wall, it’s huge, and it’s in my living room. It’s covered in batting and we used Angela’s tutorial, at least for the cut-out for the outlet. I love love love it, but I will consider using grey flannel sheets in my next home.

  2. Wow, nice job! I have one that I bought at the AQS show last year. But it’s the small small for baby quilts because the large size wouldn’t have fit in my sewing studio. Maybe some day I’ll be able to get the larger one. I still have to put my design wall away when I’m not using it because it takes up too much space. I really like your idea. I just might have to make one like that when I move into a bigger house.

  3. I like the gray!
    I think you need to have an open house and show off your sewing room to us all. 🙂
    I have a cheap fuzzy backed table cloth tacked up on the wall.
    I can’t wait for the quilt show!

  4. Really nice instructions, Doris! Of course a design wall is mandatory in a dedicated sewing room. Mine is two of those insulation sheets that are duct-taped together, then covered with white flannel purchased extra wide, by the yard. The flannel is also duct-taped to the back of the insulation. Love your idea of making a flannel sleeve though. If I wanted to do that, I’d have to make two of them and place them side by side. Gray flannel is an interesting idea too. You’ve come up with some great food for thought. Thanks!

  5. Love your design wall. Looks very clean and professional. Looking at your picture, did you add material between the foam core and flannel top. If so, what did you use?

    I am thinking of using it for double duty. As a design wall and then to aid in blocking my quilts once they are finished. Of course the boards would need to be layed flat for that application. Have you used yours to block quilts?

    • Linda, thank you. I did not use anything between the board and the flannel, it’s just sewn so it fits tightly around it. I have used it to block smaller quilts (thought about making a second one because it would then work great to lay flat side-by-side to block larger quilts).

  6. How dose flannel work is it better than the commercial Fons and Porter design wall? Do the quilt blocks stay for long period of time to the flannel or am I better off with the Fons and Porter product?

  7. Love this idea. The wall in the photo looks wider than 4 feet. Is it two boards together each wrapped as you described with flannel sheets?

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