I consider the border of my quilt to be its “frame”. Just like a ornate picture frame accents the picture within, a beautiful plain or pieced border should accent the quilt top you spent weeks (or even months) piecing. My post today will cover measuring your quilt top for borders and then the types of pieced borders that I’ve used to give you ideas.
Measuring the Quilt Top
Wonder to keep a border from being wavy or distorted? The secret to achieving this is measuring your quilt top before cutting or piecing the border you want to add. This step is even more important when you are bordering a quilt top that has blocks set on point. So, here are the steps:
- Step 1: Measure your quilt top vertically in 3 places. On the left, in the middle and on the right. Add those numbers together and divide by 3 for the average. (See diagram below) That will be the length of the border strips for the sides.
- Step 2: Attach the side border strips and then measure the quilt top horizontally in 3 places. Through the center and on the right and the left. This will be the length of the border strips for the top and bottom. (see diagram)
- Step 3: Add the top and bottom borders:
And you’re done!
Plain or Pieced Borders… or Both!
So now it’s time to decide on what kind of borders you want. The easiest of course are plain borders. So if you follow the above steps, you’re done. However, if you want a little more “pizzazz”, you can add additional borders either plain or pieced. Here’s an example of plain borders. I have a tan inner border (for the applique) then a color print border:
These next examples are a plain border, with a pieced border added in:
As you can see, there is a plain black inner border framing the blocks and a piano key pieced border on the outside.
When you want to add a pieced border to a quilt top, it’s important to decide on what type of pieced border you want on the quilt based on what size your quilt top center measures. For example, if your quilt top measures 64″ square, you can divide 64 can be divided by 2 or 4 evenly so you can add a pieced border made of of units that measure 2 or 4 inches. Note, these measurements I am using in this example are finished sizes. If the pieced border units you want to use are 3 inches finished, you can add a 1″ plain border to the sides of your quilt so it now measures 66″ square, which is divisible by 3. See how that works?
So here are a few other fun pieced borders I have done on my quilts:
Notice how the first border is large flying geese units, followed by a checkerboard border and finally a plain brown print border. All to frame these scrappy Sister’s Choice blocks.
This quilt top is framed with staggered strips cut from the color prints used in the blocks. I created the “staggered” design by combining the color print strips with strips of background fabric.
Here’s some close-up views of some of my borders:
Basically, experiment! Have fun with the framing of your quilt. As you can see, they can go from simple to an intricate secondary design like the one on the bottom right above.
Now it’s time for you to share your border experiences in the comments below to win a free pattern! You can win my pattern for Homestead Trail:
Be sure to comment to win! The drawing for the winner will be on Monday, February 4th. ***Congrats to Kathy! Winner of my pattern!***
Never liked a border that is added to “try” to make the quilt bigger. Cause the finished product always looks like “oh she added borders to make the quilt bigger”. One of the things I really like about your borders….they look like they belong there. Borders for me can take awhile cause I want it to enhance the quilt and sometimes that has to be thought out.
Joni Giancola says
I have very boring simple borders, but you inspire me to breakout and try something more creative. With a new grandbaby girl coming in September I will have plenty of chances to try….
I always use borders to frame my quilts! Especially with Medallion type quilts. I remember when I first started quilting – large plain 6 inch or 8 inch borders were the thing. Now there are so many different choices to compliment a quilt. The quilt speaks to me and tells me which border to use, but I never put a large final border on my quilts!
Kristy Wilkinson says
Thank you for the reminder to measure in three places! I usually only measure in one or two. Most of the time I get non wavy borders but sometimes I guess I really didn’t have even sides and that gets me into trouble! I love to piece borders and I appreciate the plain inner border to stop the action from the main part of the quilt. Your quilt made from your Homestead pattern is very pretty. Thanks! K-
Connie F says
I just follow the pattern for the border. However, I’m just finishing a quilt that I have not found fabric for a border, consequently I’m going to have to get creative and make a pieced border out of the remaining fabrics used in the quilt. Thank you for the inspiration.
Lewcrese Shields says
I am not one to do plain borders. Inner border, middle border, outer border. I like to bring elements of the center out into the border, so that when you look at the quilt you don’t just see a center, and then border, border, border. Applique on a border and brought into the center is my favorite. I enjoy your ideas on borders!!!
I see I am too late for the draw but I just wanted to say Hi, and say that I am enjoying your posts, and I love your quilts. Just a comment though. You don’t say what to do if the three measurements you take are slightly different? Of course in a perfect world and perfect sewing they would all be exactly the same but that’s not always the case!! Generally I average them out.
Sorry I didn’t make that clear. Yes, you average them out. 🙂