Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Finishes - Quilt Borders 101

This is the status of my Mom's quilt when last I wrote.  It's now time to put the borders on. How do you put borders on a quilt?  Let's go over how I put borders on.  While I explain my border technique, keep in mind that there is more than one way to do all things in quilting.  My technique works for my quilts and it is the one I recommend to my longarm quilting customers to keep quilts square.
For this quilt, begin by cutting six 2 1/2" x WOF strips with the inner border fabric.  As the quilt is longer than WOF, the strips need to be joined together.  Begin by laying one strip end (selvages cut off), right side up, toward the needle from the left.  Lay the second strip, wrong side up, on the first strip at a 90 degree angle.  Draw a 45 degree line on the wrong side from the upper left corner where the strips meet to the lower right corner.
 Sew on line.
 Trim 1/4" from the seam line.
Press strip with seam to one side.  Border strips are generally sewn in this way, on the diagonal.  A diagonal seam line helps to hide the seam by allowing the eye to look past it.  The eye finds a straight seam easier to see because of its hard line.  There are a few exceptions where a straight seam is preferred, such as when using a striped fabric.  A striped fabric naturally hides a straight seam when you make the effort to line the stripes up.
With the strips together, it's time to cut them and sew them to the quilt top.  I NEVER cut the border strips to the size a pattern calls for.  More times than not, my piecing will cause the finished quilt size to be different than the pattern states.  Therefore, I want my strips to equal what my quilt size is.  For this quilt, I begin by determining the border length for the vertical sides.  To do that, I measure vertically in 3 places:  toward the left side, the middle, and toward the right side.  For this quilt, my measurements were 48 1/4", 48", and 48."  Add the three and divide by 3 which is a little over 48".  In this case, I rounded down to 48" and decided to work in the extra length, if needed.  This keeps all sides equal in length.  I cut 2 strips 48" and sewed them to each side.
This quilt's top and bottom inner borders are a little different than the usual straight forward border as it extends into the quilt blocks.  I arranged the quilt blocks on each side of the inner border, sewed the blocks together, and then sewed them to the inner border.
Because the border extends into the quilt blocks, 4 - 2 1/2" x 6 1/2" strips were cut from the inner border fabric.  Quilt blocks were arranged and the strips were sewn to the corner blocks.  The interior blocks were sewn together and the corner block sets were then sewn to the interior block set.
I then measured the quilt top horizontally in three places as before.  My measurement came to 51 1/2."  Two inner border strips were cut to that measurement.  Because I like to keep the amount of fabric I am handling at the sewing machine to a minimum, I sewed the inner border strips to the block sets before sewing them to the quilt top.
The top and bottom borders were now sewn to the quilt top.  Time to add the outer borders.
Seven outer border strips were cut at 6 1/2" x WOF and joined together on the diagonal as above.  The vertical sides measured 63 3/4" after measuring in three places and were cut accordingly.  I would say I pin when quilting minimally.  This is how I pin borders to the quilt top.  The cut border strip is folded into fourths.  Press the folds on each end.  Fold the quilt top into fourths and place a pin at each of the folds.  Match each of the pressed folds to the appropriate pinned quilt top spots, right sides together.  This minimal amount of pinning allows the quilt top and borders to be worked in if needed.  Once sewn on, I measured and cut the top and bottom outer borders to 62 1/2."
These borders were then sewn on and, whala, I'm done.  The quilt is finished.  At least the top is finished.  I now need to get it quilted.  I will work on getting that done next week.  It may arrive late, but I know my Mom will love it and not care that it's late.  She is not aware that I am making it so it will be a complete surprise.  I am excited to get it to her.
As I finish with this quilt, let me say that I have enjoyed this quilt pattern from this book "Simplify."  The directions were well written and the photography is great.  There are a few other of the book's patterns I would like to make and I recommend it if you like graphic, simple quilt patterns.  Thank you, Camille Roskelley, for this lovely book.

Happy Friday,

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