Friday, March 29, 2013

Easy "Upholstered" Bulletin Board

Welcome to my first NanaBananaBike tutorial!   If I ever get another great idea worth sharing, I'll try to do this again.  For now, please be patient with my Blog-ineptitude and tell me how I can improve this one. 

After discovering how easy and fun it was to make an "upholstered" bulletin board, I wanted to make dozens more.  I've a stopped at three, but there will be more.  

In addition to "easy" and "fun", here are a few more reasons you'll love making one:
  • No sewing
  • Because size matters, make the board whatever size you like
  • There's almost no limit to the decorative looks you can achieve

As you scroll through this tutorial, you'll notice there are three different bulletin boards featured in the photography.  What can I say?  This really is my first rodeo, so I've got a lot to learn about writing up instructions and using pictures along the way.  This floral board is, in fact, the last one I made for this project and I used it to fill in some missing steps in the picture story. 

Supplies you'll need: 
          1½” thick foam insulation board cut to desired size.  When I bought mine at Home Depot, the nice man with the big saw cut a 4’x8’ sheet into several smaller bulletin-board sized pieces for me.  Free!  Though I'd like to believe it was because I looked particularly fetching in my sweatpants and Pebbles ponytail, I think it's really because they do this sort of thing for customers.  Bonus:  it's much easier to transport after it's been cut up.
           Fabric that is 5” bigger vertically and horizontally than the dimensions of your foam-board piece (2 ½” all around) .  I've been using both 100% cotton quilting fabric and a cotton/linen blend.  Avoid synthetics, as they might not tolerate the heat used for fusing.  Silk would be interesting.....
           Fusible web (see picture and link below)
           Mounting board:  finish-grade lathing or other board (I used 1"x 4" board on a few bulletin boards and it was fine) cut about 2" shorter than the width of the bulletin board
           Adhesive caulk to attach mounting board (see pictures and link below)
           Mounting hardware (see pictures below)

Equipment you'll need:
           Ironing board
           Other stuff that need not be mentioned, such as scissors (or rotary cutter), measuring devices, saw, screwdriver, caulk gun and Delicious Beverage! of choice

Nice to have:
           Teflon pressing sheet
           Iron cleaner 
           Music streaming live from  89.3 The Current

Here's where I started, with a standard bugly (butt-ugly) bulletin board that perennially hung crooked above my sewing table.  The cat was able to reach it whenever he felt he wasn't getting his propers, the favored activity being stealing thumbtacks.  A few times he even knocked the whole thing down, scraping up the wall in the process. Still, I adore the little beast.

Zipper usually receives proper attention.

New and improved bulletin board and location.  My son made that pencil drawing on the right when he was three.  It depicts me holding up a quilt.  Such a treasure!  Now he's off to college and my heart aches for him.  More accurately, I miss the idea of him. Teens are teens, after all, and boys are teens well into their twenties.

Because I didn't take pictures along the way for my new bulletin board, I made another, smaller one.  Yes, I love skull motifs!  Most of the following tutorial shows this board in process.

Favorite fabric.  Feel free to pick something different for your project, though I can't see why you would.  This fabric came from Spoonflower and was printed on cotton/linen canvas.  You can order it here: Spoonflower!

Cut 2 ½”extra on all sides (5” added to each dimension).  You'll end up with about 1” wrapped to the back.

"Lite" fusible web works great. There are several brands (Wonder Under is another popular brand) and you'll find the product at your local JoAnn's or Hancock's, maybe even Walmart!  Naturally, online sources abound, for example:  Heat-n-Bond at Amazon

Attach fusible product to back of fabric per manufacturer's instructions, making sure to cover the whole piece of fabric.  For larger bulletin boards, you'll need to use more than one width of the fusible stuff.  Affixing them to the fabric one piece at a time, it's better to overlap the stuff a bit than leave a gap when you attach the second piece.  

VERY important:  keep the fusible substance off your iron and ironing surface.  The stuff is nasty when it gets on your iron.  This is where Iron Cleaner and Teflon Pressing Sheets come in handy. If it gets on your ironing surface, it's only a matter of time before it's on your iron and then your favorite underwear.  But WHY are you ironing your underwear?  That's just creepy!

Peeling away the paper backing.  Note "glue" is now on the fabric.

Use a ruler to help position the foam-board exactly in the center of the glue-backed fabric (glue side up!).  The overhang should be about 2 ½” on all sides.

Secure one long edge of the fabric to the back side of the foam board with painter's tape.  Do NOT fuse anything yet!  Turn the board over, keeping the fabric taut along the edge that was taped.

Now here's a tricky part that I couldn't find a good way to photograph:  Fusing the fabric to the front!  Above is an embarrassing graphic representing the front of the bulletin board to illustrate my words.

With your iron pre-heated to silk/wool*, fuse fabric to the front of the bulletin board, working from the edge that has been anchored with tape on the back.  Move at a moderate pace, sliding the iron 2-3 inches per second, smoothing the fabric with your other hand to prevent ripples. 

Work in small segments, rather like the sequence shown on the drawing.  After  the front has been fused to the foam, gently fuse the sides, always smoothing with your hands and pulling the fabric taut.

*Fusible web manufacturer may recommend hottest or cotton setting.  Don't do it!  You'll get nice fusion with the cooler iron and be less likely to melt the foam and stink up the house.

All four sides have been fused, leaving the corner un-fused (open).

Now crease the open corner and begin to wrap it around the corner, folding as you go.  See the next two pictures.  

Repeat for all four corners.

Fuse the corners and the fabric that's been wrapped to the back.  It won't all fuse because there are areas where the non-glued side of the fabric touches itself.  See the next step.

Use fabric glue in areas that don't fuse.

A mounting board stabilizes the foam board and gives you a place to attach the mounting hardware.   The coin is there for scale.

Caulk gun adhesive that won't melt the foam, available everywhere! PL 300 Foamboard Adhesive at The Home Despot or Amazon, or probably your local hardware store. The mounting board is cut 2" shorter than width of bulletin board.  Here I've used a fine bit of 1" x 4" board, but finish-grade lath board, as shown in the previous picture works very well and is easier to cut.

Mounting board has been caulked and set in place.  Use a ruler to make sure it's even.  Here I mounted the board 3" from the upper edge.

Weight the board while the caulking cures.  The board on the left is NOT attached, it is just there to stabilize the weight during cure time. The cat goes where he wishes.

Tubes of caulk, once they are opened, dry out quickly.  Cram a bit of plastic wrap into the tip of the caulk tube to keep it from drying out before you get around to making the next bulletin board.  I used a retracted Bic ballpoint for the cramming step.

And that's all, folks!


  1. I followed your link from fatcyclist. Question: What is the quarter for on the back of the board?

    1. Marion, now that I look at the picture, it does look like the coin is attached. I put it there for scale. I'll see if I can get in there and add a little something about why the quarter is there. Thanks for asking!

      Are you FC fan? I'm gearing up to post a lot more about the 100 Miles of Nowhere, Dark edition (It's gonna be great!) but I'm so inept at formatting with pictures and links that I keep putting it off. Over time, I hope to get faster at assembling blog posts. If I could whip out blogs posts like I whip out quilts and other crafty things, I'd be a mega-blogger!