Okay! Now that the quilt center is complete, it’s time to add a border. Just like we did when cutting strips for the block parts, we need to cut some strips from the border fabric. Fold the fabric twice, make sure both top and bottom folds are aligned with two parallel lines on the ruler and cut strips–a little wider than needed for the pattern . . . .
Carefully rotate the strip, and trim to the proper measurement.
. . . keep cutting!
If you are just doing the table topper size, your strips are plenty long enough to add to each side of the quilt. But what if you decided to make more blocks and your quilt is longer than the 42″ (approximately) width of fabric? . . .
. . . Make the strip longer, of course! This is one of the few times I actually use the lines on the cutting mat. Place a strip right-side-up on the mat with the top edge of the strip aligned with a horizontal line on the mat. Notice that the selvedge edge is to the right.
Place a second strip, right-side-down on the cutting mat on top of the first strip. Notice that the right edge of the second strip is aligned with a vertical line on the cutting mat. The selvedge edge of the second strip is at the top.
Place your ruler on top of the two layers of fabric so you can draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of the second strip. Draw the line from point to point where the two fabrics intersect . . . from the northwest corner to the southeast corner. Be careful here, this won’t work if you draw southwest to northeast!
Place a pin or two on each side of the line to secure the strips.
Head back to the cutting mat, place your ruler so the quarter inch mark on the ruler is aligned with the seam you just made, and trim all the stuff on the northeast side of the seam, leaving the 1/4″ seam.
Trim the ‘dog ears’ if you like.
Press the connecting seam open. And ta-da! You made your strip longer!
So, why do I press this seam open when I was such a fuss-bucket about pressing most of the other seams to one side? Good question (I’m sure you were asking it in your head). Since there are no seam intersections involved here, this helps to hide the seam and keep it flat. The diagonal seam, as opposed to just sewing strips together end to end, also helps to hide the seam in the printed fabric.
Now let’s see what it looks like on the pretty side. See?! Bet you wouldn’t even know that seam was there unless you were really looking for it!
Now, let’s measure the border length. Some instructors will have you do a lot of measuring and averaging. I have found that using the quilt itself to measure how long your border should be is as accurate as any math equation.
For now, we’ll pretend this is a really large quilt. (You really don’t need to fold the quilt top in half to do this step on our small table runner, but we’re getting practice for the big quilts in your future). Fold the quilt in half and place it on your cutting mat or a flat surface. Smooth out any bubbles, and make sure the sides are aligned fairly well.
Choose an existing center, seam, and fold your border strip in half. Align the fold in the quilt with the fold in the border strip (on the left) And smooth the border strip so that it lays right on top of the quilt center. Be sure that the border strip is pretty close to parallel to the central seam you selected earlier (at the beginning of this paragraph).
See, here’s where the folds align on the left. Quilt top on the bottom, border strip on top.
Place the ruler so it aligns with the raw edge of the quilt, and cut the border. There! No math measuring! Save the rest of the material for another border strip. Repeat to make two side borders.
Lay the border strip on your work table, right side up. Place the quilt top, right side down on top of the border, and pin each end of the border to each end of the quilt center. Start with the ends first. Then pin across the rest of the border strip. ‘Ease in’ any lumps and bumps–you shouldn’t have much ‘easing’ to do if you’ve done a nice job with the piecing and pressing in the earlier construction. Remember to pin toward the raw edge like we did with the sashing strips.
Now sew the 1/4″ seam. We placed the border on the bottom, closer to the feed dogs, so the seams won’t get hung up on the feed dogs as you sew.
Press the seam toward the border, or away from the quilt center (however you prefer to think about it). Set the stitches first . . .
. . . Then press from the front.
Once both side borders are added. Repeat the measuring process for the top and bottom borders. These borders will be a little longer than the first two.
Like before, align the folds, smooth the border strip over the quilt top, be sure the border strip follows along one of the pieced rows. Make two, one for the top and one for the bottom border.
Pin. Sew. Press. Repeat for both top and bottom borders.
And now you have a quilt top!
Yay! A few steps left: Sandwich, baste, quilt, and bind. But first things first. That’s how you add the borders.