Border BasicsQuilt Designer: Tammy Kelly
Quilt Name: Spring Beauty, American Patchwork & Quilting, June 2006
Just like a picture frame and mat enhance a photograph, borders help show off the center of a quilt. Borders can be as simple as single strips of fabric or intricately pieced or appliquéd. The simplest type is a straight border.
Borders should be in proportion to the size of the finished quilt. As a general rule of thumb, a small wall hanging should have a border of less than 6" while a king-size quilt can handle a 12" to 14" border. Borders that are too wide diminish the quilt center design. To decide how wide to make a border, begin with your finished block size. If your quilt center is made of 4" blocks, try a 4"-wide border.
If you want to change the size of a quilt, avoid adjusting the border only. Unless the change is minimal, widening just the border can make the quilt look out of proportion. Instead, consider adding sashing, pieced borders, or multiple borders to enlarge the finished quilt.
For border inspiration, look at quilting books and magazines for appealing border and block combinations. Study the proportion of the border to the block size and the amount of piecing or detail in the border as compared to the blocks.
Keep It Simple
The simplest border uses a single fabric in strips around all four sides of the quilt center. Add the border strips in pairs to opposite edges. For example, first sew strips to the side edges, then add them to the top and bottom edges.
Focus, FocusQuilt Designer: Mabeth Oxenreider
Quilt Name: Daisy Mania, American Patchwork & Quilting, April 2004
A simple straight border ensures a bright and busy quilt center will be the main focus.
To make the best use of your fabric, cut border strips across the fabric width, then piece them to get the required strip length. Instead of hiding seams, turn them into a design detail by adding a rectangle of coordinating fabric at the center of each border strip.
Pieced TogetherQuilt Designers: Nancy Smith and Lynda Milligan
Quilt Name: Coffee Time, American Patchwork & Quilting, April 1996
Pieced rectangles complete this border, allowing the wall hanging to continue its scrappy look right out to the edges. Consider using your own coffee mug collection for color inspiration.
For more interest, add a solid square to each end of the top and bottom border strips before sewing the strips to the quilt center.
Using pieced blocks instead of solid squares adds even more interest.
Four CornersQuilt Designer: Diane Hansen
Quilt Name: True-Blue Welcome, Quilting Ideas, Fall 2002
Pieced Four-Patch corner blocks pull the design right out to the edges of this patriotic wall hanging.
BorderlessQuilt Designer: Deanna Harris
Quilt Name: City Blocks, Quilts and More, Summer 2006
There’s no rule that says you have to have a border! Sometimes a quilt is perfect without one.
Reduce, Reuse, RecycleQuilt Designer: Kim Diehl
Quilt Name: Promise of Spring, American Patchwork & Quilting, February 2007
Use up all the scraps from your quilt by sewing them together for the borders.
All Pulled Together
Quilt Designer: Darlene Zimmerman
Quilt Name: Fresh Traditions, American Patchwork & Quilting, February 2007
Sometimes the border is an interesting extension of the pieced top. In this quilt Darlene used as solid color...