How To Make a French Memo Board

(also see this page ;)

Near the beginning of this semester, I decided that I wanted a French memo board to keep photos and junk on. The one in the store didn’t match my room, so I looked online for instructions and then set out to do it in an entirely different (and cheaper) way!

What you need:

what you need

Foam board (I used a 20×30 in.)
Quilt batting
Inexpensive fabric (I used 2 ft., but you might want more)
Ribbon (I got a 15 ft. roll and had to go back to the store for more :P )
Buttons (my small group got a kick out of my going button shopping ;)
String and needle
Hot glue gun
Tape measure
Sewing pins

How it’s done:

30/2=15 ;)

Cut the board

I cut the foam board in half because I wanted two smaller boards, not one big one, and 15×20 was a really good size. Be careful to measure and cut a straight line!! (Oh, and the knife blade will be sharp… duh).

Cut the batting

cut 2 pieces

Lay the foam board on the batting and cut around it. I used two pieces of a thinnish batting, so I could get plenty of padding with only a little on the back. Cut one piece of batting slightly smaller than your board and the other with about an inch of extra around all the edges. Put the bigger piece on top of the smaller one on top of the foam board, and then turn the whole thing over. Use the hot glue gun to glue the batting to the back of the board, then cut off any extra. You want to glue it close to

glue close to the edge of the board

the edge, so that the cloth can still reach the board. (FACT: the glue that comes out of a hot glue gun is …. HOT!) Make sure that you pull the batting snug when you glue it, so that it is flat on the front.

Cut and glue the fabric

folding the corners

I cut my 2 ft. of fabric in half, and it was just about the perfect size to cover both boards!

fold the two triangles in

Glue all four sides first, leaving some fabric loose at each corner. Make sure you pull the fabric tight so that it is smooth in front. Don’t worry, the glue will hold it! Then turn the corners of the fabric in towards the center of the board, which will make two little, triangular flaps of fabric. Fold these two triangles in and glue each one to the board or cloth. If you have too much extra cloth in the back, you can cut it off.

Ribbons have their own type of geometry, in which there is no such thing as a straight line.

Da ribbon

Measure on the back and make a mark in the middle of each side. These can work as guidelines as you lay out your ribbon. I went with a big “X” going from the four corners, and then I made four diamonds in the middle. Make sure you pull the ribbons snug and use a tape measure and pins to keep them in line before you glue them. Glue the ribbons on the back, NOT on the front of your board.

And finally… the buttons!!

Careful! You could take an eye out with that.

I used a metal embossing tool thing (I think that is what it was originally for anyway) to poke two holes through the ribbon, fabric, and foam board where each ribbon crossed. I think you could just do this with your needle when you sew the button on. To get a nice curve in the fabric in front, pull the string tight in back and tie a knot or five in it. This will keep the ribbon tight enough to hold everything you want it to.

French memory boards

To hang the boards, I glued two short ribbons on the top and tied a knot in them. You could make this a bow or just one long ribbon (the latter I would turn once, so that you are glueing the opposite sides to the back of the board; this will make it flat for hanging on a nail or whatever).

These two boards cost me no more than $10, I think it was somewhere around $7 but I’m not sure.

(Edit added 9/12/12 to say: I am still using these to boards, and they still look great! I brought one to school with me, and it has handled going back and forth each year just fine. The only thing that I ever have a problem with is the top ribbon that the board hangs from; it with sometimes come off of the back of the board, but this is easily fixed with a little more hot glue now and then… and the boards that I gave to my sister don’t have this problem at all it seems.)

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  1. These are very cool!!! They would make great gifts, too.
    I sent your article in for the Carnival of Homeschooling, so perhaps you’ll get some extra (well-deserved) traffic.

    Though I was wondering: Why do you want to keep junk on such pretty boards?

    • Definition #1 of junk: The little heart cards that you get as a ‘thank you’ from young kids that you teach in Sunday school or wherever, though you don’t want to through these away as soon as you get home, after five years these things can be called ‘junk’

      Sense this is what I found when I cleaned off my old cork board, I expect the same from these boards ;)

  2. how pretty, I like the material also.

    • Thank you :D

      I am starting to do a lot of my room in this sort of empty circle theme. Strange thing is I really don’t like polka-dots, lol. But this I like, and I’m glad you like it!

  3. Debbie

     /  March 1, 2010

    Thanks for the clear instructions and pictures. I want to make these for my daughter’s bedroom and didn’t like the other directions I found on the internet. I am going with yours since they came out so great!

    • Yes, I love having them in my bedroom! There like an art peace and handy at the same time.

      Thank you so much for telling me. Glad I could help!!

      • Debbie

         /  March 2, 2010

        Question: It looks like you sew the button right through the batting, fabric, and foam board, right? Would an uphulstery needle do the trick?

      • Yes I sew it through all three so that I can pull it snug and get the nice curves in front.

        Any needle that fits through the hole in your buttons of choice should work, foam board is not very hard to pierce ;)

  4. Debbie

     /  March 2, 2010

    Thanks!! I can’t wait to make mine. I hope it turns out as nice as yours did!

  5. Christine

     /  February 18, 2011

    Did you use 3/16 inch (thin) or 1/2 inch (thick) foam board?

    • it must have been the 3/16 inch, cuz it wasn’t a half inch. but to be honest I just grabbed one out of a sale bin ;)

      • Christine

         /  February 18, 2011

        Thank you. I made some today with the 1/2 inch board and they turned out so pretty. I didn’t buy enough buttons though. I bought six for each board and didn’t realize I needed eight for each board. I made doubled your recipe :) I also made a mistake and wrote down 2 yards instead of 2 feet. I guess I’ll be making some throw pillows for the couch.

      • lol, nice. I would think that the 1/2 inch would work well, you could even use it as a tack board, because the pins won’t go all the way through it :)
        I love throw pillows! They can really bring some color into a room.

  6. These memo boards are such fun. I have just made one. You can see it here

  7. Jenn

     /  February 4, 2012

    Thanks! This was very helpful and doesn’t look too difficult…. I have been looking for a board for my daughters room and can never seem to find the right fabric…. This will give me the tools I need to get started :) Thanks again.

  8. Jodi

     /  February 26, 2012

    Where do you buy the foam board? I’ve only found ones that are covered with matte clay like paper. I haven’t found any with the lip on the back. Thanks!!

    • I think I used the same type you found then. It was covered in some sort of thick, slippery paper (like thick magazine paper). I got mine at Hobby Lobby. I don’t know what you mean by a lip — I used a flat one.

  9. Kim

     /  April 2, 2012

    Can you tell me how you finish the back of the board? do you cover everything in fabric and just glue into place? just curious, I have been making these and can’t quite figure out the back. Thanks so much

  10. dawn

     /  May 23, 2012

    where do you sew the buttons on

    • I put them wherever the ribbons meet, and it is best if you can get the string to go through the foam board so that you can pull them tight.

  11. Kristin

     /  June 29, 2012

    Such a great idea!!! Plan to use it for a 4-H Achievement Days project!!! Thanks for the inspiration, so fun!!!

  12. Barbara

     /  November 25, 2012

    I have got half way through “making up as I go along memo boards” and have just found these wonderful instructions !!!! great tips and have saved to favourites .Thank you :)

  13. “How To Make a French Memo Board College & The Years After” was in fact a fantastic post and therefore I really was indeed pretty joyful to
    find the blog post. Thanks a lot-Audrea

    • well thank you :D
      …I’ve been too busy to write many new posts, but I’m glad this one at least is still helpful to people :)

  14. jc

     /  October 15, 2013

    where did you get the cork boards for cheap

    • I believe I found it at Hobby Lobby… it might have been on sale at the time… but thin cork board is usually no more that $5 I think… :)

      • It isn’t cork board. It’s foam core board.

      • Oh, haha, she’s right… although you can stick pins in it like it were a cork board because once the batting and cloth is on it is thick enough that the pin won’t go through and damage the wall… but it is just a plain foam board!

  1. French Memory Board How To Make | information

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    A few more years of college, and I'll be done!
    So these are a few stories, crafts, and etc. that I'd like to share with you as I move on through my 20s...

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