Adding Borders

Adding Borders

Whether it’s long rows of sashing or long borders, getting them straight and flat is essential. In my sewing room, there’s usually a point in the process where I just want to get it done and I’m not as careful as I was at the beginning of the project. I most likely have six other projects waiting in the wings, and I’m tired of the one that’s in front of me. Oh, but spreading a finished quilt top on my bed for a final inspection and measuring is a great feeling.

The border around the outside of your quilt top can protect all the seams from coming loose but other than that, it has no purpose but to make your quilt look better. The border cannot make a crooked quilt straight or fix wavy rows.

Starting at the beginning of your project....

  • Fold your fabric straight and cut carefully. Save cutting the borders until you are ready to use them.

  • Take your time sewing your blocks. Trim HSTs and flying geese. Now is the time to make friends with your seam ripper. A 6” seam is way easier to take apart and redo than a 54” row. Pay attention to the size of your blocks, making sure they are consistent.

  • Take your time sewing rows together. Don’t stretch or force seams to match. This only causes ripples and waves. Find the problem and fix it.

Adding borders....

  • Measure your quilt top. Use those numbers NOT the pattern for the length of your borders.

  • If your two long sides are within an inch of each other, use the average. I always cut my borders an inch too long. It’s easier to trim the excess than to add length to a border cut too short.

  • Pinning is faster than ripping! Starting in the middle, pin your border to one side of your quilt. Do not stretch either the quilt top or the border. You should have 1/2” wiggle room on either side of the middle to get you to the corners. Sew and press each side as you go. Trim the ends with a straight edge to keep your corners straight and square. Do the same with the top and bottom.

Debbie has an arsenal of tricks that can help with wavy quilt tops and borders. But at the end of the day, a crooked quilt will remain just that.

Remember, this is your hobby. Your fun time. Have patience, pay attention to each step in the process and when you finally get to the borders, it will be a good thing, not a struggle.

Sew Sincerely,


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