I’m a little late publishing this weekly post due to technical difficulties – sorry about that! But now all seems right again with my little piece of cyberspace, so without further ado…
This week it’s all about sewing quilt borders to your quilt top!!
People seem to have strong feelings when it comes to quilt borders as a design element, yet, love them or hate them, from a craftsmanship perspective, sewing borders to a quilt is an essential skill for all quilters!
Borders by Design
Stylistically, quilt borders provide a way to frame your pieced quilt top. There are a number of design options when it comes to using borders, and this can provide essential visual interest to the finished quilt.
They can also be used to make the quilt bigger.
And, they are a way to ‘square up’ a quilt that has uneven sides.
Due to the handmade nature of quilting, it is not uncommon for each parallel side of a quilt top to measure at slightly different lengths. The variation could be due to a number of different factors such as a varied seam allowance or stretching, yet by adding a border to the quilt you can rectify the issue.
So don’t be so quick to jump to the ‘I don’t do borders’ mindset! They have a place in the quilting world, no matter your style preference.
Preparing the Quilt Border Strips
First, you need to determine the length of your quilt border strips.
For the first side borders, measure from the top to the bottom of the quilt through the middle, and both edges of the quilt. Take the average of these three measurements and use this to establish the length of the side borders.
Next, if your border length is longer than the 42-inch width of the fabric, you will need to sew two strips together, for each side of the quilt.
To be sure the finished border units will be the exact same size, cut them to the required measurement at the same time.
To do this, secure the short ends of both strips together with a Wonder Clip. Then press the pieces, aligning their edges and securing them together with a clip every few inches.
Then, align the measuring tape at the required finished length along the starting short edge of the border units and clip in place. Smooth out the tape measure along the length of the border fabric strips and secure under the clips. Once you reach the start of the tape measure, butt an acrylic ruler up to the end, remove the tape measure and cut.
Once sewn to the quilt top, you should repeat this method to prepare the top and bottom borders. And then again for each additional border.
Stitching the Border Strips to the Quilt Top
Before you stitch the quilt border to the quilt centre, you must pin or clip the border right sides together, to the quilt centre edge.
This is a vital step to ensure you are able to ease in any excess fabric that may exist due to the discrepancy between the actual edge measurement and the required edge measurement that the quilt border has been cut at.
Start by marking the centre of both the quilt centre and the border with a pin. Pin the two pieces together at this point. Next, pin the top and bottom ends, and then ease the fabric as required, pinning as needed.
Make use of your sewing machine’s feed dogs by placing the side that has the excess fabric next to them when stitching. By doing this you are ensuring the feed dogs are able to even out the fabric uptake as the machine stitches. For the best chance at success, hold the fabric taut (but don’t pull!) from pin marker to pin marker.
A Note About Fabric Grain and Quilt Borders
Generally if a quilt border is longer than the width of the fabric, a pattern will give you instructions to cut multiple crosswise grain strips (from selvedge to selvedge) and sew them together to create the length required. This is the most common technique, as it is the most economical use of fabric.
However, depending on your fabric and pattern design you might also consider cutting your borders parallel to the selvedge running the length of the fabric. This is a good option if you don’t want a visible seam in the border, or if you can make better use of the fabric pattern repeat by using the lengthwise grain.
The important thing to remember though is, when using fabric cut on the lengthwise grain there will be less stretch in the fabric.
If you do need to ease in any significant amount of fabric then I would stay away from using lengthwise cuts.
Quilt borders are an important step in the construction of your quilt top and should be given the same consideration you would to piecing the centre blocks.
Take the time necessary to ensure you have a successful quilt top finish. The flatter your quilt top sits at this stage, the greater success you will have quilting the layers together and the happier you will be with your final quilt.
If you would like to make your own version of this quilt you can purchase the pattern here.
And follow the #dmlqal or #downmemorylanequilt hashtags on Instagram for more inspiration.
The pattern is still on sale throughout the duration of this quilt-along using the code DMLQAL.
Until next time – happy stitching!!
|Piecing the blocks
|Continue piecing the blocks
|Quilt top assembly
|Backing and binding preparation