Evening in the Garden Quilts

Adventures in Fabric Art

Border Confessions



I want to come clean to you all about my border technique.  It’s something I need to get off my chest.  Then you can decide if you want to unfollow me or report me to the Quilt Police, or whatever.

I cut my borders to the size they are supposed to be.  To the finished dimensions of the quilt plus half an inch.  To the size they are on the EQ design.  No measuring, no averaging.  In this case, I had four 9-inch blocks across the top of the quilt.  I cut the border 4 x 9 plus 1/2″, or 36 1/2″.

Every time a new quilter asks about borders, I cringe a bit when I hear the measuring and averaging advice.  Maybe first, second, third quilts are so “off” that they need some averaging to try to get borders on them.  Certainly, no one should just start sewing on a strip of fabric and see where it ends up!  But after you’ve done this for a while, shouldn’t your quilts be the right size?

No one could ever accuse me of perfectionism, but I do like a square quilt.  It looks nice, lies flat, and is a whole lot easier to quilt.  I cut my pieces as accurately as possible without stressing.  I piece them together accurately.  When I put blocks together, I do the best I can.  Often, there are some plain blocks in the setting that I know I have cut to the correct size, so I fudge the pieced blocks to match them.  That’s what that little bit of gathering is for that happens on the bottom layer of fabric as it goes through your machine.  Use that to your advantage, and certainly don’t let it make things worse!  Pins are good, too.  I hate to pin, but I use a few to make sure things match.

I don’t want to measure the “field” of my quilt.  It had better be the right size, or very close.  That “close” we take care of with the feed dogs again.  All the 216 little 3 1/2″ squares on this quilt came out just a tad larger than they should have (like a quarter- to half-inch tad).  I discovered that when I pinned on borders cut to the correct size.  I pinned ends, centers, and again between the centers, distributing any fullness. I made sure that I had the larger, pieced side down when I sewed on the borders, and that took care of it.  Now I have a very square, stable top, hemmed in by borders of the correct size.  That teensy bit of fullness in the middle will quilt out completely.  It will also lie flat and square when I go to spray baste it.  I’m good.

So, am I the only one who does this?  No teachers or books ever say this.  Is it a secret?  What do you do?

Feel free the call the police now.  I’m going to go baste.

Author: Valerie

I'm Valerie, also known as Scooquilt. I am passionate about fabric and quilting. My quilts are colorful and modern, but grounded in traditional blocks. My degrees are in Fine Arts and Education. I'm retired from teaching and trying to quilt daily. Reading, gardening, and cats are also important to me.

2 thoughts on “Border Confessions

  1. I measure average, and still end up fudging most of the time. So I will go to quilters’ jail also, Valerie. It doesn’t bother me to be imperfect. My results are usually very good.

  2. I used to do the center average thing and if I know my measurements may be off, I will measure to see how “off.” Generally I cut it the length it should be after measuring at the edge in case I figured wrong somewhere as I often plan my quilts on paper. Don’t call the police but there are times when I have just sewn and trimmed.

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