Years back, I never used a design wall.  I might sketch out a design on graph paper or in my sketchbook, but then I pretty much just went with it and constructed as close to what I’d drawn as I could.  It certainly is possible to get a good result from that… but it’s kind of hit or miss.  It’s much more effective to use a design wall.

Your design wall can simply be a piece of batting that you pin up on a wall anywhere you have some space to step back from it (preferably at least 8-12 feet or 3-4 meters) and be able to look at your design as it progresses.


First try- lower left seems a bit heavy with the
dark backgrounds

The change for me came when I started taking a Design series – classes for quilters that taught you the basic fundamentals of design.  Our teacher always said “Make visual decisions Visually.”  In other words, you have to actually look at something to see if it’s going to work, rather than just thinking it will work.

Tonight it was time to put my Salsa blocks all together.  So, up they went on the design wall.  I arranged them, then stepped back and took a look (and a picture).

I then rearranged them several times, each time checking to see how I liked the arrangement.

I like having the two red backgrounds on opposite corners

Looking through a reducing glass or at a photograph can also help you get a sense of how well the design will work from afar.

After determining the placement of the blocks, I then had to decide which fabic I was going to use for the sashing.  To do this, I pinned different pieces of fabric up and put the blocks on top, stepped back and looked at the overall effect.

The green fabric to the right is bold and seemed like a good prospect, but when I tried out the black with red/yellow/orange batik, I think I found a winner!

Salsa blocks with sashing complete

Next step will adding batting/backing and freemotion quilting of the sashing.


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One of the best places to learn FreeMotion Quilting: Leah Day’s FreeMotion Quilting Project

11 replies
  1. QuiltSwissy
    QuiltSwissy says:

    Fabulous choice. How does it fee to be this close to a finish?

    And you are right. I could not work without a design wall. I have foam board tacked up on my wall. I really need to cover it with batting, put it works OK with a lot of pins!!!!

  2. Sally
    Sally says:

    So life-like yet artistic with their individual design backgrounds. Really lovely. I also like your choice of sashing. Now to chop them up and MAKE the salsa!! (figuratively speaking, of course LOL!!)

  3. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Christina, I really love this piece. I saw the chili pepper earlier and loved the stitch work in it. It sounds like you and I do our designing the same way – design walls, photos, reducing glass.
    I made a portable design wall (Here's how: that I take to classes and workshops and then my husband picked up some pvc pipe at home deport and made me a great big design wall for my studio. I usually use it horizontally, but can rotate it vertically if I'm working on something longer. What's great about it is that I can lean it backwards just a little bit and it really helps prevent the pieces falling off.
    I wrote a how-to post in December here:

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