Border Styles for your Quilt
Part Two of Two
Adding a straight or a pieced border
To make sure your quilt lies flat, you must measure your border strips before sewing them on the sides of your quilt top. Don't just sew on a border and cut it off when you get to the end. That is a recipe for wavy borders.
Measure your quilt through the middle horizontally. Cut two borders to this length and sew them to both sides of the quilt, matching the center of the quilt top with the center of the border. Press to the border and measure again through the center.
Cut two borders to the measurement you just took and sew them to the top and bottom of your quilt top, again matching the center of the border strip with the center of the quilt top. Press to the border.
Perfect Quilt Borders that lie flat and keep your quilt square.
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Whenever possible, use the lengthwise grain (parallel to the selvedge) when cutting fabric for border strips as it doesn’t stretch as easily as the crosswise grain. If you do need to use the crosswise grain, consider using spray sizing to help prevent stretching.
If it is necessary to seam the strips to make them long enough, consider mitering that seam to make it less visible. Using a walking foot when sewing long seams helps keep them even.
Mitering strips for invisible seams in long borders.
If you are adding a pieced border, measure the length and width of your quilt through the center as you did for the straight border. Subtract half an inch to determine the finished size of the border strip. Divide this number by the size of the quilt blocks you will be using. If the number comes out even, you know how many blocks to make. If not, you may have to add an additional element such as a coping strip or half a block to make it come out right. The picture to the right shows a quilt top with a pieced inner border.
After you have added these borders, repeat this step to make the blocks for the top and bottom border. For some pieced border ideas, visit Quilters Cache.
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Adding a mitered border
A mitered border is a slightly different process. Again, using the measurement of the center of the quilt, add the width of your border twice, plus 4 1/2" inches. Cut two borders to this size. For example, if your quilt top is 27" and you are adding a 3" border, you would cut two borders that are (27 + 3 + 3 + 4 1/2") or 37 1/2" inches long. Mark the center point of both the border and the quilt top and pin a border to one sides of the top. Matching the center points, sew the border to the quilt top, stopping 1/4" before you get to the end of the quilt top. Mark this 1/4" ahead of time to be safe. Your top is going to look pretty odd, but it’s okay.
Repeat this process for the top and bottom sides. To sew the mitered corner, it’s easiest to take the top to your ironing board and fold the edge of one border on top of the other at an exact 45 degree angle. One strip will completely cover the other. Work with it until you like the appearance of the miter and the corner lies flat. Press that fold. Carefully unfold the top without disturbing the two borders that are now right sides together and pin along that pressed fold line.
Take the top to your machine and sew along the pressed fold line from the outside into the middle where you stopped sewing 1/4" away from the edge of the top. Press and double check to make sure the corner lies flat. If so, trim 1/4" away from this seam. It’s bit tricky, but if you are careful and use lots of pins, you can get a perfect border that lies completely flat on the first try. Repeat this three more times and you will have successfully added a mitered border to your quilt.
Adding a three-dimensional border as an accent
To add an accent to your borders, or to separate two similar borders, you can insert piping or a tiny, three dimensional border called a flange. This is a 1" wide accent strip of fabric. Fold that in half wrong sides together and press. Cut two pieces to the same length as the center width of the quilt top and stay stitch it 1/8" from the edge of the top and the bottom of the quilt top. Do the same thing to the sides, using the center length measurement. Overlap it at the corners.
Once it is firmly in place, you can use those same measurements for the outer borders. Because the flange is actually inserted into the seam between the two borders, it does not make the quilt bigger. It's just a little accent piece to draw your eye.
Here is an article on
How to add a flange border as a piping accent to your quilt.
Other elements such as prairie points can also be inserted into the seams between two borders (or between the border and the binding) to add an accent. Topstitch the seam to encourage these elements to lie flat.
Have another tip to offer? Send it me, and I will add it here.