A recent issue of McCall's American Patchwork and Quilting magazine suggested using a flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth to create a design wall. Now why didn't I think of that?! I've been needing to come up with some type of inexpensive solution for quite a while now. I had tried using a flannel sheet, but it wasn't stiff enough, and the quilts blocks would easily fall off. But, this works perfectly! And, I had two 60x84" tablecloths on hand - exactly what I needed!
What's the advantage of a design wall? Well, you can always lay out your quilt blocks on the floor, but few people have enough floor space to do that, especially when it comes to a large bed quilt. The nice thing about this approach is that you can mount your blocks, then leave the design wall up for as long as necessary. No more crawling around on the floor or stepping on the fabric to reach a center block. And, you'll get a much less distorted sense of what your quilt will look like if you can look at it straight on vs. viewing it at an angle on the floor.
The magazine suggested to simply put duct tape on the vinyl side of the tablecloth, then cut slits for the hooks and hang it with "Command" hooks. I chose to stitch buttonholes in case I would want to use the tablecloth for its normal intended use in the future. However, after stitching the buttonholes, I'm thinking they knew what they were talking about; the needle holes caused the vinyl to tear, even though had I reinforced the flannel side with non-fusible interfacing before sewing the buttonholes. I think I'll still be able to manage, though.
These "Command" hooks are the greatest invention. I HATE putting holes in my walls (I prefer options down the road vs. being locked into the holes I've created!), and these allow you to hang something without any damage to your walls. They come off easily when you no longer have need of them.
I mounted the hooks right up next to the ceiling.
I spaced the hooks and buttonholes so that I can hang two overlapped 60x84" tablecloths for large quilts,
or one 60x84" cloth for smaller projects.
The flannel backing works just like those flannelgraph story boards from Sunday School. Just be sure you get a decent quality tablecloth; the cheap, flimsy ones don't have much flannel backing to them anymore.
The beauty of this system is that I can simply remove the tablecloths when I'm done with the project, and no one is the wiser.
The hooks do show, but it's worth it to have such a great quilting aid!
(Sorry about the poor quality of these pictures! :( My quilt studio is in my basement, thus very little daylight.)