Making an over-the-door design wall

The unseasonal heat-wave has abated somewhat today, so I am back in the 3rd floor Ice Bear Quilts Studio, to do something other than let the hot air out at night, for the first time in two weeks! I am sewing section 7 of my reproduction Gypsy Wife, but I also had another little project that I wanted to get done: my over-the-door design wall.

If you have been following my Gypsy Wife posts, you may remember that I had run out of room on my design wall, so had hung a bit of flannel over my studio door (it opens in to the studio) to get a bit of extra space. This temporary foray into an extra mini design wall worked so well that I decide to purpose sew one for use on the door. Here’s how I made it (so that you can too!).


The door of the Ice Bear Quilts studio (with Ice Bear keyring)

The first thing to do, of course, is to measure the available space on the door for your design wall. I wanted to maximise the width as much as possible, but also make sure that the design wall wouldn’t catch in the hinge side of the door when I closed it, and wouldn’t hang over the handle and latch. I concluded that a design wall 27″ wide (3/4 of a yard) would be a good fit, as it would hang free of the handle, and also a couple of inches clear of the side of the door. I decided to go with the selvedge-to-selvedge width of the flannel as the length of the design wall: 44″, then I could make it seamless (less work!).

The piece of flannel I had in my stash was smaller than that, so I purchased 3/4 of a yard of white flannel. A design wall doesn’t have to be white, of course, but my door is white and my other design wall is white, and one doesn’t get any show-through with light fabrics, so I think white is a good choice.


White flannel for the design wall

I wanted to attach my design wall to the door with elastic, looping the elastic around the back of the door, by slipping it over the top of the door. I hunted through my elastic supply, and found a long piece of white 3/4″ waistband elastic. I stretched it around the back of the door to the front to make sure it was long enough, and it was. I didn’t have to cut it at all. Un-stretched it is several inches shorter than the distance needed: that way it is stretched and under tension when in use, so holds the design wall firmly in place. Being waistband elastic is won’t curl and is nice and sturdy.


3/4″ waistband elastic to hold the design wall in place

I sewed a smallish zig-zag stitch 1/8″ from the edge of the flannel along both raw edges (the sides of the finished wall) to combat possible future fraying and to stabilise the edges against stretching. I deliberately didn’t fold the sides under and hem them, as I wanted the wall to hang as flatly as possible, and didn’t want the bulk of a seam.


Zig-zag stay-stitching along the sides

Then I turned the selvedge edge at the bottom of the flannel under by 1″ and hemmed it in place. Here I did want to fold the fabric over and hem it, for the extra weight and stability. My flannel had a fuzzy and a less fuzzy side: I was careful to make sure that the fuzzy side was on the front!


The bottom edge folded up and hemmed (view is wrong-side of wall)

Then I turned the top edge under 1″ towards the back in the same way, and pressed it to set the fold. Before stitching it down, I inserted the elastic between the two layers of fabric, slipping it in to 3/4″ in from the edge. I sewed the elastic to the flannel with a few rows of zig-zag stitch, to make sure it was firmly anchored (as this part of the design wall takes most of the strain).


The elastic inserted 3/4″ between the two flannel layers en sewn in place

Making sure that I didn’t have a twist in the elastic, I inserted the loose end in the other side of the folded over top hem, and repeated the zig-zaging. Then I stitched twice across the top of the design wall, from side to side, about 1/4″ down from the top and 1/4″ apart, to make sure the top of the design wall could take the strain.


Design wall from the front: elastic secured and hem sewn down with two rows of stitching.

So from the back the top of the design wall (before hanging!) looked like this:


Back view of the finished top of the design wall. The odd quilting book in the background…

Then I slipped it over the top of the door: Luckily I am tall enough to be able to do this without standing on anything extra, so I can take it on and off easily if I want too. I had to pull the elastic quite hard to get it on, but it is tight enough to hang securely.


Close up of the elastic passing around the top of the door

Then I slid it a little to get it positioned where I wanted it. And that was that!


The design wall hanging on the door

The advantages of this purpose made over-the-door design wall compared to my temporary over-the-door design wall are huge: there is nothing hanging over the top of the door to collect dust, the door can open and close normally, the design wall can’t fall off (even if it should sag, it can’t slip down further than the highest hinge), it hangs nice and flat, it is easy to take on and off and it looks discrete and neat. One could make it even easier to put on and off (and adjustable for different door widths, say at a retreat…) by adding some kind of plastic buckle half-way along the elastic on the back, but I only want to use it here, so didn’t need to do that.

The fabric clings well to the flannel, but bigger areas of patchwork can be given a bit of extra security with a couple of pins, so there is no risk of a large piece becoming detached as the door opens and closes.


The design wall with sections 1 & 2 of my Gypsy Wife

I am very happy with this, and it was easy and quick to do. Should anyone make one of these for themselves, I would love to hear about it.

Happy Quilting!

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