Adding Borders

How to add a flat border to your patchwork top

A common problem, seen on many quilts, is excess fullness in either the border, or the quilt body, preventing the quilt from sitting flat.

A wavy ruffled border is a sign of too much fullness in the border and “tenting” in the middle of the quilt is a sign of too much fullness in the body of the quilt.

In both cases it can result in tucks and pleats being stitched into the top during quilting because the extra fabric can not to be stitched down smoothly.

Both these problems can be avoided by:

  • taking careful measurements when adding borders.
  • cutting border fabrics on the straight grain.
  • Attaching the borders by matching registration points.

Hints for Planning Borders

  • The total width of the finished border should not be bigger than the size of one quilt block, otherwise the border can become more important than the quilt design. One notable exception to this “quilt rule” is the medallion quilt.
  • Generally the narrowest border would be closest to the centre working out to the largest on the edge.
  • There is no limit to the number of border pieces that can be used.
  • On a scrap quilt the border fabrics do not have to appear in the quilt, in fact they don’t even have to be related as long as “colour value balance” works!
  • If you have to join fabric together to make up the full length of a border use a bias join. It uses more fabric but is less bulky and much less visible.
  • To calculate the length required for a border, measure the quilt at least one block width in from the edge rather than running the tape along the raw edge, as this edge has often stretched and fluted with handling.
  • Take measurements in several places to check if the quilt is “square”. If there is very little discrepancy between the measurements you are safe using an average.
  • If one measurement is more than 1cm smaller than the others you should check the seams and adjust where possible. 

Attaching  a T-Top Border

Attaching a Mitred Border


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