Quick & Easy Design Board Tutorial
I’m coming at you today with a fun tutorial for quick and easy design boards made with stuff you already have lying around. There are a ton of design board tutorials floating around the interwebs so if you’ve already made some that work for you then feel free to skip this one.
If you don’t have it in you to make your own, no judgement here. Just pick up a pre-made one from Fat Quarter Shop.
Moving along. Here is what you’ll need to get started:
Leftover cardboard box. I used a Thrive Market box since they are honestly the most sturdy boxes and they are made from recycled materials. Bonus for the hippy dippy’s like me 🙂 Honestly you can use whatever you have on hand. I made a larger board and a smaller one so just make sure to find a box or two that will finish at the size you’d like.
Batting scraps. I happened to have some scraps of Hobbs Natural Cotton Batting with Scrim so that’s what I used. Again, just use whatever cotton batting you have lying around in the sizes you’d like.
Duct Tape. I had some some solid red in my craft closet so that’s what I went with. There are tons of colors and even fun patterns out there now. If you’re truly aiming to avoid spending any money then use whatever you have. If not, I’ve seen cute printed rolls for less that $5.
Pencil or pen.
Scissors. For the love of all things holy do NOT use your fabric scissors.
Exacto knife or similar blade.
Ruler or straightedge.
That’s it my friends.
Now that we’ve gathered everything we need let’s get going.
Step 1: Using scissors or your exacto/utility knife open the box up so it lays flat.
Step 2: Using the knife and ruler cut down one side of your box to whatever size you’d like your finished design board to be.
I like to use one of the solid sides for stability. In reality you could make a huge board by using 2 sides of the box but I personally don’t like the finished look with the fold from the box in the middle.
Step 3: After you’ve cut up your box grab your scrap batting. Just make sure it’s slightly larger than your box.
Cut your batting down to the same size as your box. Because we are finishing the edges off with duct tape you want to have as much exposed cardboard for the tape to stick to. If you wrap the batting to the back side you will find that the tape won’t be as secure. The more paper/cardboard that is exposed the more surface area the tape will have to stick to.
Step 4: Grab your glue stick and cover the surface of ONE side of the board. This will help hold the batting in place while you finish the sides.
Stick the batting back down to the side with the glue. I use my hands to smooth everything out really nice and flat. Ya’ll know I’m a bit OCD so wrinkles don’t really work for me 😉
Step 5: Take the duct tape and scissors and cut one piece of duct tape that is slightly larger that one side of your design board.
It doesn’t matter which side you start with. I only cut one piece of tape at a time. It’s not the easiest material to work with so having more than one piece cut at a time makes a sticky mess more likely.
Step 6: Lay the tape on your work surface sticky side up. Then grab your design board and lay it batting side down on the tape, aiming to center it as much as possible. This isn’t a hard and fast rule. I just think it looks nice to have both sides somewhat even.
Step 7: Wrap the tape around the edge of the batting/cardboard and secure it down on the cardboard only side. Use your fingers to smooth it out as much as possible.
Try to leave some extra tape hanging off each of the ends. It will make it easier to finish the corners later.
You don’t need a ton of extra tape on the ends. Just an inch or two.
Do the same thing on the other side of the board so you have two of four side finished off.
Now I like to trim those overhanging edges off. I know it seems counter intuitive but I wait to trim until now so that I can get as close to the edges as possible.
Step 8: Grab your duct tape and using the same process as above cover the other two edges of your board. Again, leave some extra tape on the ends. Try not to seal the edges if possible. It helps when we go to wrap the corners.
Here you can see that I took my scissors and trimmed a triangular piece of the tape off the corner. This isn’t imperative so just decide if you want to bother or not.
Step 9: Fold your corner over and wrap the edge so there is no raw or exposed edges.
As you can see we’re not aiming for perfection here friends. Just do the best that you can. If you’re the type of person who needs the back side to look as good as the front then try folding and wrapping the edges like you would if you were wrapping a gift.
Just to show you that sometimes my outcome is less that perfect 🙂 Does it take away from the functionality of the design board? Not at all. I just won’t look at the backside 🙂 Probably a good rule of thumb in many of life’s situations!
Fold and wrap all four corners as best as you can.
Step 10: Run your fingers along all four sides to make sure the tape is as secure as possible. Sometimes you can even smooth out any wrinkles or bumps in the tape as you go.
Flip your board over and admire your handy work!!!
Because we used cotton batting your quilt blocks and fabric pieces will stick right to the board. It makes it easier to keep track of little pieces and even move things from your sewing machine to the ironing board and work surface without losing pieces along the way.
I made a second smaller design board to use with EPP (English Paper Piecing) or other tiny projects.
There you have it friends. A super quick and super easy method for making your own design boards using items you most likely have laying around at your house.
I did want to mention that you can just as easily use foam core board instead of cardboard. I just didn’t have any on hand and really wanted to see if I could make it work with what I had. In theory you could also use flannel instead of cotton batting. Personally I don’t think it’s quite as “sticky” as the batting but in a pinch it could work. You can even use leftover binding scraps and hot glue them on the edges instead of using duct tape. It will take some more time and effort but if you’re looking for something a little more polished it’s definitely an option.
Hopefully this was helpful and you enjoyed the process. I’ve already started using my boards and can see how helpful they will be for a quilt class or project.
Let me know if you have any questions or need clarification on any of the steps. I’m always more than happy to help if I am able.
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