DIY Fabric Desk Pad / Desk Blotter

I’ve been working on sprucing up my hot-mess-converted-garage into a cozy and organized office/sewing room.  I want to add some warm touches that make the desk seem like a peaceful place.  I find this Majestic Oak fabric in Grass by Joel Dewberry is so soothing to look at, that I thought gazing at it peeking out under my laptop would add a little zen to my workday.

This desk pad is so simple to make, no sewing is required, and you could also do it with a pretty paper.  Get the full Fabric Desk Pad Tutorial (and lots of different customization options) after the jump…

DIY Fabric Desk Blotter

1.  You need a base for your desk blotter.  You could recylce a piece of cardboard as long as it is nice and flat. You could also use posterboard (a little flimsy) or foam core (kinda smushy to write on), but I found that illustration board has the right amount of firmness to give your desk pad heft.  You can buy illustration boards at most office supply stores or art stores, or here on amazon for $3.89.  I used two 20″X30″ boards for this project, but you can make it whatever size you prefer.

2.  Iron your fabric really well, you don’t want any wrinkles or creases.  Lay it right side down on a table and lay your illustration board on top.  It doesn’t matter which side, illustration board is the same on both sides.  Center your board and make sure your fabric is straight so it will look all nicely aligned.

3.  Trim all four corners like so:

4. Use a spray adhesive and spray one short side of the board, then fold your fabric over it and stick in place.  You have a few seconds to lift and move if you want.  Firmly press it down and smooth out any bubbles:

Repeat on the opposite side, pulling your fabric taught but not tight:

Then spray and attach the top:

And finally, the bottom:

5.  Now you can just call it a day, but it’s useful to add some embellishments to allow you to store notes and the like.  Here are some options I played with…
Making bands in matching fabric on either side:

Making a full pocket on either side in matching fabric (with interfacing ironed on to make the pocket firm):

Making a thicker band in a matchy fabric:

Using ribbon along one side and the top:

Using ribbon along two sides:

I also really wanted to use two long pieces of elastic sewed into a tube to wrap around, but I only had neon pink and blue, which I wasn’t feeling.  I also played with the option of using interfacing to make firm corner pockets, but I realized I don’t like corner pockets becuase they don’t hold enough.
I ended up deciding to use Alexander Henry Caitlin Stripe in Pink/Aqua to make two bands, because I want symmetry at my desk.  This fabric totally contrasts and seems like a weird choice, but it’s another fabric I just love looking at so I went for it.  What do you think?  Did I choose wisely?

6.  So go ahead and cut strips double the final width you want your bands and about five inches longer then the width of your board:

7.  I wanted to make this a no-sew fabric desk pad, but if you wanted to, you could fold your strips so the long edges are right sides then sew up the edge and loop turn them right side out, then iron flat with the seam to the back.  For a no-sew version, iron each edge of the strip into the center.  I used my new best friend, the Bias Tape Maker (see the video of the machine making these strips here) to do that work for me:

8.  Wrap your strips around your board at even distances.  With the wrong side of the desk pad facing up, spray your adhesive and press the strips in place:

8.  Take your second piece of illustration board and trim a tiny bit, just 1/4″ or so, off the top and side:

Spray the entire wrong side of your desk pad with adhesive, then center the second board on top and press into place, for a nice finished, non-lumpy bottom:

Done!  Place on desk.  Get to work.



Stephanie B.

I just moved into an apartment, and right now I have an ugly calendar on my desk with white walls surrounding everything. This will be a super cute touch up to what seems so boring! I'm excited to start making this and have something exciting to look at!

Elise McKenna

I tried this today (with plenty of time until Christmas in case I screwed it up!). If anyone is thinking about trying this tutorial, it really is as easy as the directions lay it out to be. I used a striped fabric which made it easier for me to line it up properly. Hopefully my boyfriend loves it as much as I do 😉

Thanks for the tutorial!

Sarah Powdery

I could not find illustration boards in our Staples here in Ontario, Canada, but I found foam board with bristol board surfaces at our local dollar store (Dollarama) and had equal success. Thank you for this inspiring tutorial–you just saved me $32.99.

Sarah Powdery

There weren’t illustration boards in our Staples here in Ontario, Canada, but I found foam board with bristol board surfaces at our local dollar store (Dollarama) and had equal success. Thank you for this inspiring tutorial–you just saved me $32.99.

Sprucing Up Your Workspace | 365 Hangers

[…] Tip 1.  Start with a clean slate. If everything is aggravating you, put it all in a box or on the floor and start from scratch with what you already have. Bet you’ll find that one business card you were looking for last week! After that, try adding a desk pad which makes a great foundation. There are lots of cute options like this studded pad from See Jane Work ($120), or you can make your own with your favorite fabric and the help of Prudent Baby. […]

Kellie Kreiss

I am an interior designer and could not find the blotter I wanted. Going to make two of these tomorrow for a children’s playroom I’m finishing that has two built-in desk. Thanks for the great tutorial. I may order some Lucite tops to put over them.


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