I'm a quilter and I have a pet peeve. It's quilt borders that WON'T LIE FLAT!
There, I said it and I feel better.
I do quilting for others and I find that there may be some lazy quilters out there. Or, maybe it's just that by the time they get to the borders, they just want to git 'er done! Or, maybe proper border application was something they've missed. Well, I've taken off many a border and re sewn them to customers' quilts so that I could actually quilt the quilt. With this in mind, I decided to post simple directions for adding borders to your quilt top so they aren't wavy, (not that any of YOU do them incorrectly, I'm just saying...) I'm also planning on giving these directions to all my customers!
Determine the Length of Side Borders
- Measure the quilt from top to bottom through its vertical midpoint.
- Cut two border strips that match the measurement exactly, using the width you've already determined looks best with the quilt. Borders made with crosswise grain strips are somewhat stretchier than lengthwise grain border strips, but either type is suitable.
Sew Side Borders to the Quilt
- Find the center of the long side of the border strip, pin to mark this point. Find the quilt's horizontal center and place a pin in this point.
- Pin the border to the side of the quilt, right sides together matching the center points. Pin through both layers at the match to keep them from shifting.
- Match and pin the bottom end of the border to the bottom edge of the quilt, then match and pin the other end to the top edge of the quilt.
- Continue matching and pinning the border to the entire side of the quilt, pinning at close intervals if you must ease in fullness to coax the two lengths to match. Raw edges should be aligned along the quilt's entire side.
- Sew the border to the quilt with a 1/4" seam allowance, removing pins as the needle approaches them. If you had to ease in fullness, sew with the longest piece next to the feed dogs.
- Press the seam allowance towards the border.
- Use the same method to sew the remaining border to the opposite side of the quilt.
Determine Top & Bottom Border Length
- Measure the quilt from side-to-side through its horizontal midpoint, including the width of the side borders. Cut two borders this length.
- Find the center of the border strip and mark with a pin. Pin the center of the border strip to the vertical center at the top of the quilt, right sides together and raw edges matched.
- Continue matching and pinning the border to the quilt just as you did side borders, working with ends first then matching and pinning the remaining length.
- Sew the border to the quilt with a 1/4" seam allowance. Press the seam allowance towards the border.
- Repeat to sew the bottom border to the quilt.
- Repeat all steps if you want to add another border around the first.
DO NOT just sew your border strip onto the quilt and cut it off even with the quilt edge when you get to the end! This results in a wavy quilt that does not lay flat and is very difficult to baste or load on the quilt machine. ALWAYS measure, measure, measure!