Monogram Burlap Message Board – A DIY Ballard Designs Knock Off


Did you know that thrift stores are THE place to go for corkboards/bulletin boards? At least the normal office-supply store kind of cork boards. It’s a rare day that I go and I don’t see at least one.

They’re probably there because they’ve been stained with marker, or the cork has come up in a few places. But other than that, they are pretty sturdy as most are framed in wood or metal.

SO many things can be done with these if you view them as a solid base for a new board – using paint, fabric, and even wood to cover up the flaws and saving you a heap of money (you can see here where I covered the edges of a metal corkboard with wood molding, creating a framed board).

How much can you save? Well, let’s use this example:


This 23″ x 17″ board I bought for .99 sells new from $6.99 to $13 depending on where you buy it (surprisingly, Amazon had the highest price, so I’m not linking to them this time!). Okay, so – that’s not a lot of money, really, but if you can get it for a dollar AND keep something from going into the landfill, wouldn’t it be worth the drive to the thrift store? Besides, you never know when you might find another treasure...

BUT, I didn’t just save six bucks because I made this into a message board very similar to one you can see in the Ballard Designs catalog that sells for $69 for the same size!

Of course theirs is magnetic and mine is cork – which I actually like better – but come on, sixty-nine bucks? Well, whatever – I know I can say I’m SUPER happy to be able to save sixty-eight dollars, because I had everything else already that I needed to make this Ballard knock off, so the only thing I bought was the cork board.

To make your own burlap (or any fabric) message board:
  • In addition to the supplies for the project (board, lining, fabric and ribbon), you’ll need a drill and a staple gun.
  • Start by drilling two holes 4-1/2 to 5-inches apart near the top of the frame in the direction you’l like it to hang (mine is vertical, if you’d like horizontal, drill the holes on a long side). Use the largest drill bit you have (unless of corse you’ve got some gigantic size I don’t know about…) and don’t be concerned with the bits that come off the back – just pull them off, ’cause no one will see.


To cover the board
  • You’ll need burlap or desired fabric cut about 2-1/2 inches bigger than the board all around and a lining cut about 1-inch larger (the lining evens everything out so that the frame doesn’t show through the fabric). Any soft material or batting will work for this – I used part of a threadbare wool blanket I kept just for projects like this.
  • Lay out your fabric and lining and lay the board face-down on top (#1 photo above). Notch the corners of the lining to lessen the bulk, as shown.
  • Start stapling the fabric by bringing it up around the lining and the wood frame of the board in the center of one side. Place about three staples. Move to the other side, pull the fabric tight and staple in the center of that side. Do the other center sides in the same way, pulling tight, before stapling the rest of the way along the sides – pulling tight when needed. Stop about one inch before the corners.
  • Trim away some of the excess fabric from a corner (photo #2) before tucking the fabric around all the raw edges and pulling tight. Secure corners with staples (photo #3). Repeat with remaining corners until all the edges and corners are stapled, as shown.


To create hanger and monogram
  • Cut a 30-inch piece of 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch ribbon. The Ballard board uses black, so that’s what I went with here, but any color will work, and I may change it to cream to better fit the room I’ll probably hang it in.
  • Using a large needle with the biggest threading hole you have – I actually used a needle made for sewing knitted pieces together, which has a gigantic hole – thread both ends of the ribbon to the front and tie in a knot, leaving 2-inch ends. Notch ends with scissors.
  • To create the (optional) monogram, print out your desired letter in a font you like (I used Georgia), and cut it out with small scissors. Pin it to the board where you’d like it – centered like the Ballard board, or towards the top like mine – and trace lightly around it with a fine-tipped permanent marker. Remove the pinned letter and fill in the outline with the permanent marker.


Isn’t that easy? Now, if you had to buy fabric and ribbon for this project, it might run you a total of $5, which is still an incredible price. And it only took me about half an hour to complete!

These boards would make great gifts, don’t you think? The monogram could be the last name of a family or the first name of the recipient. Not only can they act as message boards, but how about a jewelry hanger? Earrings can hang right through the burlap’s holes and large pins can hold necklaces and bracelets. Update: here’s how I”m using this board as a jewelry hanger and I LOVE it!!

This is a win-win-win: a bulletin board is kept from the landfill, you save a bucketload of money, and someone gets a board that is selling for $69. LOVE.

31-days of Thrift Store TransformationsThis is day 28 in our series (you can click on the button to see all the posts in the category). If you’re wondering what’s up, you can read the introduction to 31 Days of Thrift Store Transformations here.

I’m sharing this at YHL’s Pinterest Challenge


  1. says

    Looks fabulous, I cannot believe the talent you have and the amount of things you are making at the moment, you must be an incredibly organised person, it puts me to shame.

    I am definitely going to share your sheet music coasters on my Inspiration weekly post. I will link back of course to your blog.

    Your a very talented lady.

    Lee :)

    • Jami says

      Thank you so much, Lee, I really appreciate it! I wish I were organized – instead I’m surrounded by papers, half-finished projects, and just plain stuff. Sigh. :)

  2. says

    So very cute (or elegant – I can’t decide which word to use!) My 12 year old daughter and I are working on a thrift store cork board for her room. I’m trying to rein her in a little with the color combo since she shares a room with her 3 year old sister. Hoping it will turn out cute, too.

    Thanks for linking up to Handmade Christmas 2012 ( This is a great gift idea.


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