One of the projects that has been on my mental "to-do" list for months, verging on ages now, has been to make myself some attractive fabric covered pin boards/inspiration boards. I wanted one for my office, as the very industrial and dull bulletin board I had there was overflowing (it was very small) and ideally at least one more for home above my sewing machine/station and possibly another one for the home office so that I could move some of the fridge clutter of notes/reminders/phone numbers somewhere useful but out of the way of daily clutter. That last one, which is less an inspiration board and more an organizer, is yet to be completed, but on the very last day of the holidays -- new year's day in fact -- I set about ticking this project off my list so that I could start the year with one less acitivity on my mind.
Here's the thing, and perhaps you share it too, despite having read all kinds of references to how to make these things online (the comments on this post at Apartment Therapy were particularly useful), I always felt like there must be some trick to this beyond what I was reading. That is, could it really be as simple as: cut out materials, glue together, hang? Answer: yes. However, it was because I couldn't quite believe that, that I never took the initiative to get going. Silly me.
I wondered for a while about what sort of material to use to form the base of the board. I had heard a number of folks talk about using old bulletin boards and just covering them with fabric, which made sense, but I didn't have any the size I wanted and buying new ones seemed pricey and a bit of a waste frankly. I then thought about wood -- as lordisa knows we've got a fair bit of that around these parts -- but wood would be a bit too hard to stick pins in and too heavy to hang on a wall. That post at Apartment Therapy recomended Homasote, which is a brand name for a paper composite material (considered a "green building material FYI) that is sold in 4x8 ft sheets at hardware stores for about $10 a sheet, which seemed like a fine idea to me. So, I went off to the dreaded Home Depot over the holidays, after checking that my small local hardware store didn't carry it, and after a bit of searching found it. A tip: don't ask for Homasote, no one there seemed to know what that was. Once I described it as "this sound board stuff, made out of pressed paper..." they caught on immediately. But that could have just been the holiday staff at my location. The bonus to getting the stuff at Home Depot is that they'll cut it for you on their very big and rather exacting cutting machine, so I gave them my dimensions and had them turn it into three smaller pieces to make my three boards.
After bringing it home, I still wasn't convinced that the task would be as easy as I had read, but really it was, but because I would have found this very useful, I'll share with you my step-by-step guide:
1. Get your base material. In my case, this paperboard stuff. See above for tips on getting other folks to cut it for you.
2. Choose your fabric. This was tricky. I had originally thought of using Amy Butler's Coriander print, but in the end decided it would be too busy in a large board (mine are about 30 x 60 inches) once I put a bunch of stuff on it. I then tossed around some ivory upholstery fabric I had, which in the end won out for my sewing board, but settled on a brown quilting cotton with little off white dots (I forget the fabric name now, and I threw out the selvedge edge that had it sorry) on it. Strangely enough, my final choice looks kind of like a cork board in colouring, but being a fabric lover, I do appreciate the use of fabric and the patterning. Anyway. In summary: choose your fabric.
3. Iron your fabric. You don't want creases on your board.
4. Lay your cut piece of fibreboard on top of your fabric and measure a few inches around the sides to cut out your fabric. I used about an inch and a half and ended up trimming some off when I was done, but you don't want too little fabric.
5. Warm up your hot glue gun and get to work. The trick of this stage is of course getting the fabric stretched over the board in ways that don't warp the print (if you have one) through uneven tightening, but don't leave creases or loose bits of fabric. I wondered for quite a while about glueing the front of the fabric to the board, but because I was using hot glue, which gets fairly hard when dry, I decided to just glue on the back as I wanted to make sure the front was smooth and ready for pins to be placed anywhere. I began by keeping the board laying on top of the fabric, putting a line of hot glue down one of the long sides and pressing my fabric on. From here, I stood the board up so that I could see how even and taught my fabric was and just worked my way from one side to the other, glueing 6" strips while smoothing out the fabric and pulling it along. Hot glue sets quite quickly which means you can't do much in the way of replacing things, but you can move along quickly. I had a few clothes pins on hand to hold things if and where I needed to. Even with a large board like this, I was able to do it mostly on my own, though a few times I asked Martin to come in and give me an extra hand smoothing the fabric just to make sure everything was flat.
5. Afix some hanging things. I used these things (pictured here) that came in an Ikea picture hanging kit I got years ago. They're basically little plastic hooks with a base that had a bunch of tiny little nails in it. I glued them onto the back, then hammered the nails in for extra stability. Because the fibre board is so spongy and frankly a bit crumbly if you're too rough with it, just nailing something on would probably not work -- it would be likely to fall out -- and I'm not sure that glue alone would work either, though if others have had success with something I'd love to hear about it as these are kind of specific little hangers. Really, any kind of tack and glue combo would probably work as the board isn't that heavy so not much weight is going on it. I then, threaded a string through the two hooks and presto! Done.
I think I made two large sized boards in about 2 hours, including much fabric indecision, plenty of ironing and a few episodes of trying to pick hot glue off my finger tips. Not bad.
I also made these rather cute (if I do say so myself) rose push pins with some fabric flowers I had from a past craft project, hot glue and flat-headed thumbtacks (photo here). I only had a few of the flat headed tacks around, though I'll likely get some more and make others another day. The rest of my things I've just put up with pearl headed straight pins from my sewing basket.