Tuesday, 5 February 2013

French Memory Board Tutorial


I've been seeing all these gorgeous fabric-covered memory boards around for years and have always wanted one.  Laziness combined with a lack of a staple gun stopped me from making one, and an unwillingness to part with the obscene amounts of money the ones I saw in the shops were selling for prevented me from buying one.

I finally "treated" myself to a staple gun the other week and set about covering a generic cork noticeboard right away.  I love how easy these memory boards are to make, but I do not like staple guns.  The last time I used one was when a friend and I were helping a teacher to decorate a classroom wall when we were in Year 3 (It wasn't called 'Year 3' then but was so long ago that I've forgotten what it WAS called).  Staple guns are loud and a little bit scary and I don't know why I was allowed to use one of these dangerous things in infant school.  Possibly because 1980s kids were just tough.

There is no shortage of tutorials out there in Internet Land for making these, but as with everything, I tend to cut corners and make things easy for myself, so here is my tutorial for an easy and quick French Memory Board.

You will need:

 Cork noticeboard or a cheap artist's canvas (I prefer the canvas, see below!)
♥ Fabric measuring approx 6cm wider and 6cm longer than your chosen board
♥ Wadding or batting cut to a rectangle approx 1cm smaller than fabric
Ribbon or tape*
♥ Staple gun
♥ Buttons
♥ Needle and thread

* I used approx. 2.5m of ribbon for a 30x40cm board and approx 5m for a 60x40cm board, plus a little extra for hanging

1. Place wadding on floor and place board facedown on top of wadding, ensuring even border all the way around.  Snip off a triangle of wadding at each corner.  Wrap wadding round one edge of board and staple several times along the length.  Repeat on opposite board edge, keeping wadding taut.  Next, do the remaining two edges, pulling fabric as taut as you can.

2. Repeat Step 1 with the fabric.

3. Take your ribbon or tape and, starting with the piece that goes from top left corner to bottom right corner, staple into place on the back of your board.  Working outwards from the central ribbon, and ensuring each ribbon is evenly spaced, staple all the parallel ribbons into place.  Keep the ribbons pulled taut as you work.

4. Now for a little weaving.  Using an under/over weaving pattern with the existing ribbons, place your top right to bottom left ribbon in place.  Work outwards like you did with the first layer of ribbons.

5.  If your memory board is to be wall-mounted, and not just resting against a wall, staple another length of ribbon onto the back for hanging.

6. Sew a button at each ribbon intersection to ensure your pictures and cards stay in place.  If you're using canvas, you can just jab your needle right through to the back of the canvas which is quick, easy and anchors the button well.  For my first memory board, I used a cork board which meant I couldn't do this so it was a bit more awkward just sewing the button to the ribbons, fabric and wadding.

Some tutorials use drawing pins or tacks, but I prefer the look of the buttons.  I found that Broderie Anglaise style lace trim made a really pretty and reasonably priced alternative to ribbon.

I'm currently making one for my niece's bedroom with polka dot tape but she's only 4 so I'm not sure how much she'll have to display in it just yet...

I am also thinking of making one as a Mother's Day present for my mum but pre-filling it with pictures and memories of her family.



  1. It's turned out brilliantly! I couldn't cope with a staple gun. I know this because I can't stay in the same room as a switched on toaster. x

    1. Thanks Anna :-) Staple guns are terrifying. I keep thinking I'm going to put a staple through my hand or send one flying across the room into a sleeping cat. Toasters scare me too, but not as much as hairdryers!

  2. Lovely tutorial! Great idea to give as a gift with pictures already attached too.

    I like the way you see a staple gun as a "treat" I agree with Anna and you though, they are pretty terrifying things! Can't say I'm afraid of toasters.... ;) xx

    1. Thank you :-)

      Yes, staple guns are horrible, although I am kind of hooked on mine now. I've been trawling the house repairing things with it since I got it but still wince every time I 'fire' it! x