Tutorial: Sewing and Quilting Design Wall

It’s well documented here that I have a great, although small, sewing room. Adding a design wall has been on my list for a while and I was inspired to get it done after seeing my friend Mona’s modular design tiles.

She sent me to The Quilting Edge’s tutorial on her design wall which I used as my starting point. This tutorial is great and I only made af we modifications.


1. Gather materials and plan. I planned my design wall to maximize a small section of wall I had available. Mine was 34″ wide x 70″ tall. I wanted one continuous piece so I started with a 4′ x 8′ piece of foam insulation. You can cut multiple pieces from this for your space or use the precut foam insulation squares. When you decide your finished dimensions, you’ll need both kinds of batting with that dimension, plus at least 4″ on each side.

2. Cut out foam board. Using a metal straight edge, tape measure, and box cutter, I cut out a 34″ x 70″ piece of foam insulation. The best approach was to first score the foam with the box cutter down 1/8″ to 1/4″ into the foam using the straightedge. When the piece was fully marked, I went back and gently sawed through the whole thickness of foam with the box cutter.  It isn’t as hard as it looks, the foam is pretty forgiving and remember that if it isn’t totally straight, we’re going to have layers of batting wrapped around each edge that will smooth everything out.

3. Attach the high loft batting. This is where I deviates from The Quilted Edges’ tutorial. I wanted a bit more loft in my wall since I was using thin Warm and Natural on top so I added a layer of high loft poly batting. I used The Quilted Edges’ method of cutting a piece to size, attaching to the foam with spray adhesive, and then using duct tape to secure the batting to the back. This worked very well and I had a secure high loft batting layer.

4. Attach the top batting layer. Next, I attached the top batting layer using the same method. I used the spray adhesive on the low loft batting and glued the top batting right to that layer. I secured the back with duct tape.

Design Wall 02

After using spray adhesive on the front surface, duct tape easily secures the edges of the batting on the back.

5. Hang up your design board and start sewing!  As recommended in the tutorial, I used Command Medium Picture Hanging Sawtooth hooks to hold up my design wall.  The wall has very little weight and I used 4 hooks, 1 in each corner.

Design Wall 01

New design wall in action

Possible modifications and improvements
– Run your batting through the dryer to loosen up any creases or bumps.  I didn’t do that and wish I had.
– Consider using black batting for a different look for your sewing room.

Since making my design board I helped my mom make one for her renovated sewing room.  The great part about this tutorial and using the 4′ x 8′ piece of foam insulation, you can cut it down to fit any area of wall you have.  In my case, it was tall and skinny while my mom needed a wide, short board.

– Stephanie, HoustonDIY


Paving Stones for Über Beginners

I am admittedly not a green thumb or very good with most things yard and garden related. I did yard work as a kid under duress but am now learning to appreciate all things green and natural since I bought a house. Included in my yard and garden category of work is really anything on my property that doesn’t involve sipping a sangria in my Adirondack.

As my blog tagline indicates, living in a big city brings along with it a few hurdles for DIY. In my case – space. I have a three-story house with good square footage, but a very small footprint. My builder generously left no room for anything but the house on my plot, which limits the mount of grass to mow (only 1200 sq ft!), but also severely limits any outdoor storage possibilities. Case in point, and the focus of this post, nowhere to store my lovely City of Houston issued trash and recycling cans.

Unlike some of my neighbors, I am against the idea of storing them in my garage – gross. Being a corner unit, I had only one option. The picture below shows my dilemma.

Before picture of paver project

How do I get my cans in between our houses?

The only feasible solution was to take out the bush and store my cans between our houses. With only a few inches to spare between downspouts and hose bibs, it was going to be tight. Another challenge was the uneven drop off of the driveway. This would require beginner hardscaping! I had professionals do the heavy lifting on my patio – which turned out great – and figured I could handle his small project.

After taking out the bush, the challenge was to create a gentle slope of dirt that I could compact enough to support rolling my cans up and down. Since the area over which I had to make the transition was small, the gentle slope couldn’t be that gentle after all.

After shaping the base with a manual compactor, I sprinkled baking soda on the dirt to prevent weeds for growing. Then, I laid down my Lowe’s pavers in two rows. I adjusted as I went and they fit pretty well. Finally, I added sand to fill in the cracks between the pads and hopefully add some stability to the ramp. It’s not pretty, but I’m not as uncomfortable at the idea of hardscaping anymore.

Completed paver project

Success! Only one plant had to be sacrificed.


Tutorial: Silhouette Cameo Fabric Cover

Silouette Cameo Cover

DIY Tutorial: How to make a Silhouette Cameo Cover

I am happy to be a member of the Houston Modern Quilt Guild.  We recently had a Denyse Schmidt fabric giveaway and I decided to use my fat eighths and fat quarters to make a cover for my Silhouette Cameo.  The colors were outside of my usual “cool colors only” rule, but I really like the blend of grey, red, and orange in just the right combinations.

Supplies Needed:
Sewing machine
General Sewing supplies (thread, scissors, seam ripper, etc.)
Fabric for outside and lining of cover, <0.5 yards of each
Premade binding tape to match

1.  (Optional)  Piece patchwork design for main body and sides.  I wanted to use as many of the fabrics as possible, so I decided to piece the main body of the cover in a modified chevron pattern by cutting and assembling 2″ x 4″ (finished) rectangles.  I chose the order of fabrics I wanted to create my pattern and cut out 10 rectangles each 2.5″ x 4.5″ from each fabric.  I arranged the pieces to make the modified chevron as seen in the photo below.  Then, I assembled the piece using as much chain piecing as possible.  Based on the size of my Cameo, I needed a main piece made from 12 or 13 rows of fabric with 9 to 10 pieces per row.  If you’re not piecing the main piece, just jump to the next step.

Pieced Cameo Cover Patchwork

Pieced chevron pattern made from Denyse Schmidt fabrics

2.  Choose your fabrics.  Choose a fabric for the outside and inside of the cover.  You’ll need an main body and two side pieces for both the outside and lining.  For my cover, I pieced the outside main body (step 1) and used some scraps from that to piece the outside side pieces. For the lining, I pieced together some of the fat eights I had remaining to make a really scrappy overall look.

3.  Create your patter pieces.  The main body is made from a ~15 inch by 21.5 inch rectangle, including 0.5 inch seam allowance.  Cut out a pattern piece from printer paper if you are patchwork piecing the main body to make it easier to center the design you want.  If you making a solid cover, simply cut a rectangle of the needed size from your fabric.  For the side piece, start with a rectangle that is 7.25 inches by 5.5 inches cut out of printer paper.  Looking at the rectangle with the 7.25 inch length oriented from left to right, make a mark 3.75 inch up on the left side (mark A) and 1.5 inch up on the right side (mark B).  On the top, make a mark 2.25 inch from the left side (mark C).  Connect the mark A and C and cut the pattern, removing a triangle in the upper left corner of the rectangle.  Connect mark C and B with a concave curved line mimicking the slope of the front of your Cameo.  This is a gentle curve that when cut away with produce a pattern piece that matches the side of your Cameo, including 0.5 inch seam allowance.

4.  Cut out your pieces.  Cut two pieces of the main body shape and four pieces of the side shape.  Depending on your design, make sure you cut a “left” and “right” of the fabric you want for both the outside and lining fabric.  Sandwich the main body piece with right sides out and quilt a design of your choosing with a even feed foot, if you have one.  I didn’t include any batting since my cover is primarily a dust cover and will keep it’s shape either way.  Repeat for the two side pieces, making sure right sides are out.

5.  Assemble the cover.  With right sides together, pin the left side piece to the left edge of the main body piece.  Start pinning at the back of the cover, easing the pieces together around the curve.  There may be extra fabric at the front edge.  Mimic this seam on the right edge, attaching the right side piece starting from the back of the cover.  If there is extra fabric on the front edge, trim the fabric edge straight across.  For an enhanced look, I included black piping in these two seams.

6.  Bind the edge to finish.  Starting in the middle of the back edge, apply premade binding to the raw edge around the bottom of the cover using whatever technique you prefer.  I like using a binding foot for this type of application that has few twists and turns.  After binding, your cover is ready to use!

Finished Cameo Cover

Finished Cameo Cover

Finished Cameo Cover, inside view

Finished Cameo Cover, inside view

– Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Homemade Pegboard – Get Organized!

As part of my ongoing effort to get organized, I’ve been wanting to make a pegboard for my garage for a long time.  I finally had some time recently and I think it turned out pretty well.  This is a very basic woodworking project.  I didn’t use any power tools except for a drill and just hand sawed a few pieces.  It’s straightforward and an easy way to organize a garage, craft room, sewing room, or game room.  I made mine 2′ x 4′, but there are larger pegboard options available and your local home improvement store.  The directions would be the same, except for the changing dimensions.

Supplies Needed:

*  One 2′ x 4′ piece of hardwood pegboard (home improvement store, ~$15)
*  Two 2″ x 2″ x 8′ furring strips
—-  Cut one in half into two 4′ lengths
—-  Cut second in half; then cut one piece in half again to get two 2′ lengths (you’ll have an extra 4′ piece)
*  15 – 20″ long piece of scrap 1″ x 4″ or similar wood to make a french pleat
*  Box of 1.5″ wood screws (you’ll need ~20-30)
*  Power drill
*  Basic supplies – tape measure, level, pencil, etc.

The overall plan for the pegboard is to create a frame of furring around the outer edge behind the pegboard material.  The furring strips will be attached to the board and to each other to create a strong frame with the pegboard that is held away from the wall a sufficient amount to allow you to hang hooks through the holes without your wall getting in the way.

To start the construction, place the furring strips in a rectangle on the floor or a sturdy surface with the pegboard on top.  The assembly should look as it would on the wall.  For each furring strip, carefully align it to make sure everything is straight and aligned with the pegboard and drive screws from the front of the pegboard, through a hole and into the furring strip.  The head of the screw should not fit through the hole and should secure it to the frame of furring strips.  I put about 4 to 6 screws on each of the 4 sides.  Once all of the furring strips is attached to the pegboard, flip over the board and secure the furring strips to each other at the corners for added rigidity.

At this point, you should have your pegboard essentially assembled.  If you want to spray paint the whole thing, now is the time.  (I kept this one au naturel since it was for the garage, but am considering a white one for my craft room.  That’s for another weekend…)

The next step is to hang the pegboard on your wall of choice.  Feel free to hang this however you’d like, but I’d recommend a french pleat.  The whole assembly has some weight to it, so you’ll need something stronger than hooks or nails.  The french pleat is a good solution because it provides a hardy hanging surface.  This technique is frequently used hang headboards when they do not attach to the bed frame.

You can find a lot of tutorials in the blogosphere about french pleats.  They are pretty simple if you have a good picture.  Here’s my attempt of a descriptive photo:

Intro to a French Cleat

HoustonDIY’s introduction to a French Cleat

The key is find a piece of scrap wood that is ~1 – 1.5″ thick.  depending on the shape and weight of your pegboard, you can either create a long french cleat across the whole length of the piece you’re hanging, or you can use two pieces on each edge like I did.  I found a 1″ x ~18″ piece of scrap in my garage.  I first cut it in half on the short length to create two 1″ x ~9″ pieces.  Then, using a miter box or table saw, cut a 45 degree angle cut through the shorter length of each piece.  If you are using one large cleat, cut a 45 degree cut down the entire length of the piece, the long way.

Then, the method will be to attach one piece that you just cut to the wall and the other, matching piece attaches to your pegboard.  The key is to make sure the piece attached to the wall is oriented with the cut, angled edge upward and with the higher side away from the wall.  This creates a triangle shaped ridge at the top of the piece of wood on each side of where the peg board will go (or along the entire length, if using one large cleat).  Then, attached the matching piece of wood to your pegboard oriented downward with the longer side away from the pegboard.  Then, you can easily hang the pegboard by setting it onto of your french cleat.  This makes the item very secure but easy to hang and remove.  Make sure to attach the wall cleat to a stud with 2 to 4 screws.  If using a long cleat, attach at every stud with at least 2 screws.

I found making this DIY pegboard was an easy and fun way to get organized.  The key was to figure out what size I wanted and how to hang it.  Once I mastered the french cleat, and with some rigorous measuring to make sure it would be level, my pegboard was wonderful and put to use right away.  You can also cut the peg board to make the personalized pegboard that fits your space.  Happy DIY-ing!

DIY Pegboard

DIY pegboard proudly displayed in my garage