Removable Quilt Design Wall

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Our slowish week’s end continued into the weekend, I’m happy to say. I got a chance to work on the value quilt, which I am also calling my stash quilt, because I’ve dug through every bit of it for this one. As I was beginning to put the quilt top together, it was clear that I was going to have a tough time making sure I was placing all the squares the correct way. There is no room in my small studio to lay out the squares, and the dining room table would be too temporary, making me feel rushed. I have always wished I had the room for a full sized quilt design wall, but there is no real wall space in our house to make that happen. But necessity being the mother of invention, I came up with the idea to make a temporary design wall, one that can be easily put up when needed, and easily taken down when not. (For those unaware of what a quilt design wall even is, it is essentially a wall of solid flannel or a similar fabric. Quilting fabric sticks to it temporarily. As you complete a quilt square, you can place it up on the design wall, and the flannel just sort of grabs it and hangs on. Its great to piece quilt squares together, move them around, etc. Here’s a large one in Denyse Schmidt’s studio to give you an idea.)

I bought 4 yards of 45″ cream flannel, cut it into four 1yd pieces. I sewed two of the pieces together, selvege to selvege, then did the same with the other 2 yards, then I sewed those 2 larger pieces together length wise, forming a large rectangle of flannel measuring approximately 88″ x 72″. (These dimensions fit my wall well, if you have the luxury of working with a bigger wall, you may want to add more fabric.) On one of the 72″ pieces, I folded and pressed a 1/4″ towards the wrong side, then folded and pressed a 2″ hem, which I then stitched close to the fold’s edge all the way across. I then applied 10 evenly spaced grommets (I used large ones because that’s what I had, but you could use a small size, these kits are sold at sewing stores, I’m sure mine came from Joann’s). The part to realize is that you will have to hammer in small tacks (could be tiny, because what they are supporting is not heavy) across the very top of the wall you’ll plan to hang this from (you could paint them to match your wall color if you wanted to, so that aren’t as visible, but if you’re planning to use this design wall in a basement or workroom, it wouldn’t matter so much). Use the grommets to hang the flannel on the tacks, against the wall, and you’re done. Now you have a space to play with your quilt squares, and you won’t have to clean the floor or clear table dishes to do it.

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Things make so much more sense when you can stand back and look at them fully, don’t they? Once I had all these squares up, it was easy to see where the color values of the lights and darks were working best and where I needed to move things around. I don’t think I could have seen this easily on the floor. Since this picture was taken, the blocks have been all pieced together and my quilt design wall has been taken down, folded, and put away until next time.

I don’t know why I chose summer to work on a quilt. Well, I don’t think I chose it, I went with being inspired and just decided to do it, not giving much thought to it being summer (and all the steam ironing I would be doing). If you’ve never made a quilt, but have thought about trying it, I hope you do. There is a “zone” I get into when I’m in the midst of seeing a quilt come together. Each part of the process (picking the fabrics, planning the squares, finding the backing, sandwiching the layers, basting, quilting, binding, etc) brings such an escape for me. As I sew each piece to the other makes it feel more solid, more real. I am planning to machine quilt this one myself, so the next steps are to choose the backing fabric (solid? not solid?), then baste the layers together. My goal is to not let this one sit idle too long. I usually have one quilt in me a year, I’m really hoping this year I have two.

I should get busy.