Sizing Spacer Borders
Dear Quilt Doctor,
I was the president of our quilt guild last year and all of the members of my guild made me a block to show their appreciation. Fortunately, the blocks are all the same size! Some of the members were a bit overachieving and gave me more than one block, though. I have enough for a quilt center and also for a pieced border. My problem is that I can’t figure out how to make them work together. The mathematics baffle me. What can I do?
Thanks for your help.
Oxboro Lake, MI
I’m sure you’ve had fun twisting and turning the blocks to their best advantage, but now it’s time to get those blocks stitched together. You want the quilt finished for your next quilt show, right?
Spacer borders are a good solution when the dimensions of the pieced quilt center and the pieced border are not compatible. Depending on what is needed, spacer borders can be the same width on all sides of the quilt, or they can be one width on the sides of the quilt and another width on the top and bottom.
This is how I would try to figure it out … but keep in mind that I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of quilter. If you need a little more control, sketch the quilt on graph paper first.
On a design wall or the floor, lay out the center of the quilt and the border blocks. Sew the center together. Next, stitch the top and bottom borders and then the side borders, laying them out on your design wall as you go. As you place each sewn border, shift it so you have each one where you would like it in the quilt, allowing for an inner spacer border.
Add the width of the quilt center plus the width of both side borders. Subtract that measurement from the length of the top or bottom border, and divide the difference by two. This number will be the width of your spacer borders. Round the number up to the nearest 1/4" for simplicity, then add 1/2" for seam allowances.
Repeat for the top and bottom spacer borders (add the length of the quilt center plus the width of the top and bottom borders; subtract this measurement from the length of the side borders, then divide by two and add seam allowances) (letter continues...)
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