Saturday, February 22, 2020

DIY - Vintage Ladder to Quilt Rack

Are you a quilt lover? If so, what is your favorite way to display your special quilts? Here's my DIY for how my husband and I created a Quilt Rack from a vintage ladder. Photos and easy-to-follow directions are included. 

Do you have some special vintage quilts? I have some that were made by my Grandma Shamblin and some made by my mother-in-law and her mother. I wanted a special way to display them, and I repeatedly searched online for a quilt rack to buy or make. Since we live in a log home, I wanted something rustic. Finally, I found a picture that might work. The quilts were hung on a vintage ladder that was mounted horizontally to a wall. 

The Search

The search was on for the perfect ladder! Vintage ladders can be pricey. I found one ladder in an antique shop that might work, but I was not sure of the wall measurement, and I didn't think the ladder would fit in my vehicle. Also, the rungs were too close for what I wanted. I looked on Amazon, but the ladders I found only "looked" old; they were new and also had rungs about a foot apart. I certainly did not want to pay a huge price for something I didn't really want and then start cutting it up!

Finally, my husband found 2 vintage ladders listed on Craigslist. When I called to inquire about the ladders, I found out the owner had a 50 ft. barn filled with "treasures" that he had collected over the years. He was willing to sell many of those items. Goldmine!

We bought the better of the 2 ladders, along with a lot of other items. It was definitely worth the 2 hour drive!

My space where I planned to put the ladder is 7 ft. 1 in. The ladder is 7 ft. long. Perfect! One rung was already missing on the ladder. My husband Charlie said it would not be a problem to remove 2 more rungs and some metal that was attached to the ladder.

Tools and Materials Needed:

Hand Saw or Saber Saw
Battery Powered Cordless Drill
Measuring Tape
eight (8) 3" wood screws
four (4) 3-1/2" wood screws

Vintage Ladder propped on our porch

Ladder Prep

Charlie removed every other rung (total 2), with his hand saw. It was now perfect spacing, about 24 inches apart between rungs! He used a soft brush to remove dust and debris. I then vacuumed the ladder and wiped with a damp cloth. I wanted to keep the ladder's vintage quality, so I did not sand or apply a finish.

Vintage ladder with 2 rungs removed

Making the Braces

The next question was how to mount the ladder to the wall. We knew there would have to be space behind the ladder for the quilts to hang over. We talked about a decorative hanger like the one in the picture, but I was unsure how we would attach the bottom. I didn't want it to "swing" back and forth.

Charlie came up with the idea of mounting 6" sections of 2" x 2" lumber (finished size about 1-1/2" x 1-1/2") to the wall with 3" screws. The ladder would then be attached to the 2" x 2" sections. This would give about 1-1/2" for the quilt to hang over the ladder. To prevent splitting, Charlie pre-drilled 2 holes in each of the 2" x 2" sections.

"Faux Finishing" the Braces

And now for the fun part! I would need to do a faux antique finish to match the wood sections to the vintage ladder. I love this kind of challenge, so I set to work. At first I mixed brown, gray, and white. Notice in the picture below that I barely mixed the paint, leaving streaks of different colors. I used a makeup sponge to "swipe" a small amount of color onto the wood. 

Nice, but too light!

The wood looked too light, so I added 2 more shades of paint to the original 3 - black and a dark brown.

Again, I barely mixed with a popsicle stick, leaving dark and light areas.

This time, the paint was almost a perfect match when dry! Since the top and bottoms would not show, I only painted the sides and ends of the wood pieces. 

(almost) Perfect Match!!
Attaching the Braces and Ladder to the Wall

We then decided where the ladder would hang on the wall and made light pencil marks. Charlie inserted one screw into one of the 2" x 2" sections and attached it to the wall using his cordless drill. He then leveled the wood section before inserting the other screw.

He measured and marked where the lower 2" x 2" should be, and attached it the same way.

Please note: Due to the shortened length of the ladder extending on the left side, this 2" x 2" section had to be shortened to 3-1/2 inches. I painted the new cut end.

We measured, leveled, and Charlie attached the remaining two 6" sections of 2" x 2" on the right end of the wall where the ladder would be attached. 

Notice that he is not looking for studs. That's the advantage of living in a log home!

Charlie pre-drilled holes in the ladder to "counter-sink" the screws. He used one 3-1/2" screw on each end of the ladder, top and bottom. He installed the screws with his cordless drill.

I am really pleased with how the Vintage Ladder to Quilt Hanger project came out. The paint on the 2" x 2" sections blends well with the ladder, and when the quilts are hung, it will be hardly noticeable. 

I am so glad we did not try to sand or apply a finish to the ladder. I love the natural look!

Underside of mounted ladder,
top left

Underside of mounted ladder,
bottom left

Hanging the Quilts

To cover the roughness of the ladder, I wrapped a soft pillowcase around the ladder in each of the 3 sections where a quilt would hang. The pillowcases will be "hidden" when each quilt is added.

I then hung the first quilt. It was a patchwork quilt hand-quilted by my Grandma Shamblin many years ago. It contains fabrics from clothes my Mom sewed for me and my family, and also fabric from one of the first outfits I sewed while in high school. It was such a nostalgic moment!

Next was the "Schoolhouse Quilt", hand quilted by Charlie's mom. Charlie and his siblings were each allowed to choose a favorite quilt, and he chose this quilt when it was just a quilt top. This special quilt was given to us after we were married.

The third was a quilt that Charlie's mom sewed and "tacked" with yarn in the corner of each patch. This quilt also contained fabric from my clothes and some from my Mom. 

When Mom and I sewed, we often donated our "scrap" fabrics, and it is great to see those fabrics on the wall! Memories are priceless!

My Vintage Ladder Quilt Hanger!


  1. What a great idea! Those quilts are so beautiful and such wonderful memories!
    ❤️Sandy Massey

    1. Thanks, Sandy! I love my quilts and rack. It gives me a special warm feeling every time I walk into my room.

  2. What a perfect decorating project for your log home!

    1. Thanks, Germaine! The quilts look like they were made for my new home!

  3. Great idea! Hanging a collection of quilts is the best!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thanks so much! I really wanted to display the quilts, and the ladder has been the perfect solution for me!