Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Border Tutorial

  This is my first tutorial, so I hope you will leave some kind comments at the end. 

Putting borders on a quilt can put fear into some.  Borders not put on correctly will cause problems for your machine quilter.  I've developed a way to put on borders that seems to take out the fear, and leave you with accuracy.  I've developed it from using a conglomerate of tips gleaned over the years, and insight of my own.  Enjoy!

This is our mystery quilt for Quilt Guild.  It is basically adding borders around the quilt over and over again.  Some are pieced borders, and the others are a one-piece border. Great effect, don't you think?

The first thing I do, is measure the quilt through the center.  If it is bigger than my cutting mat, I fold it in half, then, measure it with my acrylic ruler.  I find the accuracy is fine if my quilt and border are both measured the same way, folded or straight. This measurement is 20 1/4 inches

So, now I measure my border piece.  The cutting instructions for this quilt told us the cutting measurements, but thinking they might be borders, I just labeled them for what they would be cut to.  I always measure my quilt before adding borders.  Lots of things can happen while piecing to make the measurement different than the pattern says.

Here, my border is measured from the fold...20 1/4 inches...

and I cut off the excess.

Next, I take the quilt and the border to the ironing board.  I press the quilt in half on the edge the border will be placed.  Here, the quilt is folded wrong sides together.

 Then, I open it up and press each edge to the center, still wrong sides together.

Set the quilt top aside for a moment.  Now, I press the border, right sides together, in the center.

When I open it up, I have a nice crease in the center.

Now, I press each end to the center.

This marks the border at 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 across the fabric.

 Now, lay the quilt top out, right side up, and lay the border on, right side down.  The creases you made with your iron will nest together.  You will know that they line up.

Now, it doesn't matter if the quilt is creased right sides together, or wrong sides together.  The key is to have the border folds be opposite of the quilt.  Then, the creases will always nest, giving you an easy mark to match.

Now, I pin at the center, each 1/4 way mark, the two ends and then in between each crease.

Now, I take it to my sewing machine and stitch my 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Just a note, here.  If you have one part that has more stretch to it, and the other doesn't, put the stretchy side down while stitching.  I remember it as "Baggy Bottom".  The feed dogs will help it feed evenly and your border will go on great.  Here, my pieced border has more stretch, so I will put it on the bottom.

Be sure to remove the pins as you come to them.  You don't want to break a needle on one.  Also, keep your edges together as you go.

Now, I press, with the seam allowance going to the border.  This eliminates bulk, and your machine quilter will be happier!

Now, repeat the process with your other 3 border.  (Lather, rinse, repeat.)

And here it is with all four borders.

Looks good!  Only 3 more rounds to go for this month.


  1. Thank you for this explanation. I was working on this quilt along and am at this point when I added the last border and laid it down on the floor i have waves along the edge of my quilt.

    I am taking the last row out and using your instructions.

  2. Great tutorial! Thanks!


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