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Adding Borders 101

Today we are going to talk about sewing borders onto a quilt.  It’s important to have borders that help keep your quilt square – otherwise your pieced top will be more difficult to ‘quilt’ and it will not lie flat – instead it will have little ripples in the edges of the quilt.

For this project you will need four strips of fabric measuring 3 ½” x 42″ (or the width of the fabric as it comes.)

It’s a good idea to measure the length of the quilt sides before you sew, rather than just starting at one end, sewing on a strip, and cutting-off the excess after. This will help to keep the quilt ‘square.’

This is the easiest and fastest way I’ve found for measuring your border lengths. Before you measure your borders, carefully trim off the selvage edges of the borders themselves. Then lay 2 of the border strips across the middle of your quilt, lining-up one end of the strips with the edge of the quilt. The other strip edges will hang over the side. Place a pin in the border strips where the quilt ends. And then carefully trim with your ruler and rotary cutter where that pin marks.

Then fold the border strip in half, end to end, to find the center. Pin the center of your strip to the center of the edge of your pieced quilt top and pin the ends of the strip to the ends of that quilt side. Then space pins along the strip to secure the strip in place. (It is not bad if your strip is slightly smaller than the pieced part of the quilt, but this is why starting at the center and the ends when pinning is important.)

Pin opposite side of quilt and sew both borders on to the edges of the pieced portion. Press the borders open and flat working from the front side of the quilt.

Repeat the process on the other edges.  Lay the 2 remaining border strips across the center portion of the quilt. Place a pin to mark where to trim, cut off remnant, pin and sew. Press. That’s it!

Now, this project worked out nicely size-wise – we didn’t need longer strips. If you are working on a larger quilt, cut your border strips the same way (just cut more of them) and sew the strips together end to end to create a longer strip of fabric. The process for measuring is the same. Measure, trim, pin, sew, press. Same goes for adding multiple borders to one quilt.

Up next Tuesday in our Quilt Along Series: Batting and Backing fabric

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24 Comments

  • Reply
    Michelle
    October 12, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Duh I never thought about doing it this way I will give it a go next time I add borders. I'm like you and borders are my least favourite part of the quilt too! I am not participating in this quilt-a-long as such but I am still picking up a few hints here and there, Thanks

    • Reply
      Kitty
      March 29, 2016 at 9:36 pm

      WOW I learn somehing new each time I read a page/gkitty

  • Reply
    Jackie
    October 12, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    That is the best way!! I always measure through the middle. It makes it nice and square. Love it!

  • Reply
    Jen
    October 12, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    Can I join the "I Hate Borders Club" too?! I'll try this trick next time, thanks!

  • Reply
    Karen
    October 13, 2010 at 3:54 am

    Great idea. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Reply
    Stray Stitches
    October 13, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Good advice! And advice I will take – lol!

  • Reply
    The Clip Cafe
    October 13, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    I love your blog – so clear and full of colour and good posts 🙂

  • Reply
    WildHair
    October 13, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    That is a good tip, I love your creativity!

  • Reply
    searchfamilies
    October 15, 2010 at 1:53 am

    A lovely quilt simple but so nice<br />Hugs Janice

  • Reply
    Monica McNeill
    October 21, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Used this tip last week &amp; it worked great! Thanks 🙂

  • Reply
    Steph Zerbe
    September 16, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Thank you for this tutorial! I have made two little quilts now. I am new to sewing and your tutorial is very user friendly. Now, on to a bigger quilt, just for me!;) Have a great day!<br />I will post the quilts this week and add your Quilting 101 link, if that&#39;s okay.<br />Thanks again,<br />steph zerbe

  • Reply
    Kaitie
    September 18, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Thanks for all your tutorials, tips, and advice! I&#39;m currently working on my first quilt ever (for my niece!) and I&#39;m so excited with how it&#39;s turning out so far!

  • Reply
    Karli Blake
    August 15, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    I have one question about the sewing part of this. How big is the seam? Is this a 1/2 in seam?

    • Reply
      amy smart
      August 17, 2013 at 7:08 pm

      No. All seams are 1/4 inch.

  • Reply
    Andrea
    January 24, 2014 at 7:31 am

    Hi Amy! I finally remembered to try your tip. I HATE doing borders – I guess I&#39;m too much of a perfectionist. I always use a tape measure and measure down the center, or on a larger quilt take 3 measurements and take the average, but that method always leaves room for error. Laying the fabric strips out worked perfectly – no slipping of the tape measure. Thanks for all you do for us!

  • Reply
    Andrea
    January 24, 2014 at 7:32 am

    Hi Amy! I finally remembered to try your tip. I HATE doing borders – I guess I&#39;m too much of a perfectionist. I always use a tape measure and measure down the center, or on a larger quilt take 3 measurements and take the average, but that method always leaves room for error. Laying the fabric strips out worked perfectly – no slipping of the tape measure. Thanks for all you do for us!

  • Reply
    American Flag Quilt Tutorial - Diary of a Quilter - a quilt blog
    July 1, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    […] When adding the borders, sew the border to the two short sides of the quilt first – this way you won’t have to piece them. Then sew the remaining border strips together end to end to add side borders. There is an additional tutorial for adding borders here. […]

  • Reply
    Easy DIY Star Baby Quilt Tutorials - Diary of a Quilter - a quilt blog
    July 9, 2015 at 5:35 am

    […] If you would prefer non-pieced borders cut four strips 2 1/2″ x the width of fabric and attach them Here is a simple quilt border tutorial. […]

  • Reply
    Bits and Pieces: Finishing The Quilt
    August 20, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    […] be the math they give you for your borders won’t work. So instead I did regular borders. Diary of a Quilter has a great tutorial on how to properly put on borders. I cut (7) strips at 5″ ax wof and sewed them end to end. […]

  • Reply
    Amy
    September 24, 2015 at 8:14 am

    I had been throwing around the idea of making a quilt. After reading your quilt series I knew I could do it. So far I just added my boarder, I need to get to the store for some more supped before I can move on. I am working on a baby blanket to give it a try but I would like to make twin size quilts for both of my kids. Thanks for the easy to follow directions.

  • Reply
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    September 27, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    […] my sheet. It was a Cal king sized sheet and so there was plenty of fabric. You can click HERE to see how I did it. It actually is a great way to make your quilt even. When sewing shirts/blocks […]

  • Reply
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    May 26, 2016 at 11:56 pm

    […] borders. This is my favorite method for adding borders to a quilt. Quilt and Bind.   These panels from the Lula Magnolia collection are useful for lots of other […]

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    Project Design Team Wednesday ~ Lula Magnolia Panel Quilt Tutorial | Riley Blake Designs
    May 27, 2016 at 12:05 am

    […] borders. This is my favorite method for adding borders to a quilt. Quilt and Bind.   These panels from the Lula Magnolia collection are useful for lots of other […]

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