DIY French Memo Board

Ah…the French memo board. They’re gorgeous. I love them. From the time I saw the huge board behind Rachel’s desk on Friends (I can’t find a picture of it, but trust me…it was awesome), I’ve wanted one. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, I offer Exhibit A for your consideration:

They come in all types of fabric backgrounds from damask to burlap and use everything from ribbon to jute for the criss-crossy things. I’d looked around quite a bit and I couldn’t find one that I was absolutely in love with, so I decided to make my own. How hard can it be, right? There are a gazillion blog posts out there about how to make your own, so I schlepped over to Pinterest and found one. Here’s where it begins to go south.

I skimmed the directions. C’mon…it’s a piece of plywood covered in quilt batting and fabric, then wrapped in ribbon and finished with upholstery tacks. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist, right? Right. It does, however, take a person who can follow directions.

Hot Mess Hubby thinks he’s a woodworker, so he actually had 1/4 inch plywood in the garage. He didn’t even have to cut it for me. He had a piece that was 3 X 2 and that’s about the size I wanted. Perf!

I headed off to the fabric and craft store for the rest and returned with my stash: a nice, rustic looking burlap, a matching jute twine type trim, and deep brown upholstery tacks. Rock’in. Let’s do this.

I had quilt batting in my needlework stash, so I didn’t have to buy that. All I needed was HMH’s trusty staple gun and I was in business. He handed it to me as he walked out the door to go work, mumbling “And that’s all the staples we have, so…don’t waste ’em.”

Great. Thanks, babe!

Our house is currently one giant heap of disorganization, thanks to non-stop projects (which includes the current project of turning a spare room into my personal office and organizing a few dozen boxes of stuff to donate to charity). The only feasible place to put this thing together was the living room, so I used the coffee table for a work bench. I went to town, first laying out the burlap and then the quilt batting, then settling the plywood in the middle. I started in the middle of the board with the staple gun and worked my way out to the edges, pulling the burlap tightly as I went. It was louder than I expected and Dyson certainly didn’t appreciate it.

Momma...clean up all this crap before you make pretties please!
It wasn’t long before he was hiding out at the top of the stairs.

Once the plywood was completely wrapped, it was time to start with the ribbon. I’d purchased a spool of jute twine stuff and was pretty sure I’d have enough. Nope. Not even close. Three trips across the board and I was out. Major fail.

I stopped at the craft store on my way home and they were out of jute twine stuff. Bastards. I opted for turquoise satin ribbon. I bought two spools, 18 feet each. That should do it, right? Right. I rushed home and started with my project. Dyson fled to the top of the stairs again. Pussy.

Halfway through my first sweep, I ran out of staples. Shit.

Got staples?
Got staples?

HMH found some more in his “wood shop” the next day and loaded up the gun for me, but this project was really starting to piss me off.

Yeah, you read that right. I was pissed at the project, not my lack of planning. The closest I can come to explaining this phenomenon is to point out that I’ve been married to Mr. Let’s-Not-Plan-Shit-And-Just-See-What-Happens for almost ten years. It’s rubbing off.

I get home from the gym the next day and start up again. Finally I’m going to get done with this damn board. I finish the ribbon and consider it a small victory. Then I get to work on hammering the upholstery tacks into the board. About halfway through the package, I realize I need a hell of a lot more tacks. I’m going to run out. Son of a…

See, I’m not so good with the math, yo. Not that I measured shit on this project – but even if I had, I would have screwed it up.

dumbass

At this point, my idiocy only spurs my desperation when it comes to getting this memo board from hell finished. I’m not going down without a fight, damn it. I grab my keys and head for the craft store. It’s on!

I get to the craft store and I’m pretty sure I’d grabbed the last package of this style of tac when I was there previously. Sure enough…none left on the little peg thing. Damn it! All was not lost, however. Thanks to bad customers or bad employees, I couldn’t tell which, I found two more packages of tacs mixed in where they shouldn’t have been. SCORE!!!

I drive home, wondering what the hell is wrong with me that every single step in this simple little project went horribly wrong. I pulled up in my driveway with huge sigh of relief. Now I know, without a doubt, the board will be finished tonight. Nothing else can stand in my way. I walk in, put down my purse and the bag from the craft store, and grabbed the board with one hand. It wouldn’t budge.

I’d hammered the damn memo board right into our coffee table.

Thank God our coffee table is old and crappy and I don’t care about it anymore. I just surrendered to the fact that I am, indeed, a Hot Mess Princess and finished up the board. Now I had a new problem: with all the tacks poking out the back, the board was now very stabby. Quick like a bunny, I grabbed some old cork tiles I had here and pushed those over the stabby parts. Voila! Done!!!

The "after" pic of my coffee table. Good thing it's on its last legs anyway!
The “after” pic of my coffee table. Good thing it’s on its last legs anyway!

Now it just looks like a French memo board. You can’t tell that the project took an entire week and pushed me to the brink. All you can see is a beautiful board that cost very little to put together.

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So my words of advice are: Β buy your own – or make sure you listen to the directions and measure!!! Learn from me, my darlings!

Ivory Twill Memo Board


Damask with Black Ribbon French/memo Board

9 thoughts on “DIY French Memo Board

  1. The board looks awesome. Seriously impressed
    with how straight and even all the ribbon lines are.
    Mine would have been all crooked and unevenly spaced.

    1. Thanks, Alicia!!! All I did was mark every 6 inches along the back and that’s where I stapled (making sure that the length of each side was evenly divisible by 6 first…thank God). That’s the only part I got right. LOL

  2. That looks fantastic! Seriously thought I was going to fall out of my chair when I got to the part where you had tacked the damn thing to your coffee table! Bwahahahahahahha! That sounds exactly like something I would do too! πŸ™‚

  3. This. Is. Awesome. BTW, I think we are related, because I am also married to a “Mr. Let’s-Not-Plan-Shit-And-Just-See-What-Happens”. Maybe he is a distant cousin πŸ™‚

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