OK, let's talk borders!
Last week I spent a whole day trying to stabilise a quilt, that is, layer it up with wadding/batting and backing fabric and then stitch in the ditch before even starting any quilting.
My guess is that when most piecers get to the border stage of there quilt top they are breathing a sigh of relief and can't wait to get those borders slapped on. I think often piecers don't measure and just cut fabric and stitch it on then cut off the excess.
There are three types of borders. Borders that fit and lay flat and square, these make me smile. Borders with too much fabric, this makes the border wavy, the deeper the border the more the waving is exacerbated, the border won't lay flat. Borders with too little fabric make the quilt body bubble up and be too full like a DDD cup. Come on Ladies you know what that means far too much fabric in the middle of the quilt, this is the part that lays on the bed, the part that is in view most of the time.
Sometimes piecers want to make the quilt top bigger and add on another border and another and another, if these borders haven't been measured and fitted correctly the problem just builds and builds.
As piecers we all work really hard to....
1 Perfect our 1/4 inch seam
2 Ensure our blocks are the correct size
3 Press our seams in the right direction
4 Add sashings and cornerstones still keeping our 1/4 inch seams correct
5 Build our quilt from row to row then column to column keeping our seams stitched and pressed in the right direction with no flip flopping between intersections...
You do pay attention to all of these points don't you? DON'T YOU?
So, if you do all of these things why not follow through and pay attention to the fit of your borders too.
As Longarmers we can employ one or two methods that may sometimes help us.
We can use starch and steam to help shrink up some of that excess fabric, we can pad out with extra wadding/batting, we can pin, tuck and pull but nothing gives the satisfaction of a well fitted border right from the start.
Longarming is a dangerous job, we can be scalded by steam, poked by pins and impaled by the powerful needles of our longarm. Yes, there may be blood near your precious quilt!
I love to give my customers back a quilt that fills them with emotion and brings a tear to their eyes but you know sometimes it's dammed hard work. It can take many hours to just get the top to lay straight, that's all extra expense to you the customer, and in my view certainly doesn't give a pleasing result.
A while ago I started giving out a hand out to help anyone measure and fit the fabric for your borders, it's not difficult it will always be available in the Tutorials at the top of the page.
Hints and Tips for Better Quilting Results
I suggest that you don’t measure the very edge of your quilt top as this is where it is most likely that there will be distortion or stretching in a quilt. It is also not wise to cut lengths of border fabric and simply sew on to your quilt top cutting off the excess at the ends, this is a recipe for wavy borders that cannot be quilted flat.
Measuring and Cutting the long side borders
1. Measure the quilt along the longest sides first at the ¼, ½ and ¾ points as shown in the diagram. Calculate the average measurement by adding all three measurements together and dividing by three. Cut both the side borders to this average length. ie: Cut them the same length.
Attaching the long side borders
2. Find the center of one long side of the quilt and the center of one of the cut borders and pin together, now match the start and end points and pin. Pin the ¼ and ¾ points then evenly pin the border onto the quilt top every 2 to 3 inches carefully easing in any fullness along the length. If there is any fullness, usually it will be in the pieced top, this side is best place against the bed of your machine where the feed dogs will take care of any fullness, carefully sew on the side borders.
Measuring and Cutting the top and bottom borders
3. Do not cut the top and bottom borders at the same time as the side borders, they will be too short. Once the side borders are sewn to the quilt top now is the time to measure for the top and bottom borders. Again measure at the ¼, ½ and ¾ points as shown in the diagram. Calculate the average measurement by adding all three measurements together and dividing by three. Cut both the top and bottom borders to this average length.
Attaching the top and bottom borders
4. Find the center of the top side of the quilt and the center of one of the cut borders and pin together, now match the start and end points and pin. Pin the ¼ and ¾ points then evenly pin the border onto the quilt top every 2 to 3 inches carefully easing in any fullness along the length. Again if there is any fullness, this side is best place against the bed of your machine where the feed dogs will take care of it. Carefully sew on both top and bottom borders.
Hopefully if you follow these simple instructions the borders of your quilt will fit, lay flat and give an attractive result when quilted.