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Adding Borders! How to Keep Your Quilt Square and Free Fabric Panel Quilt Pattern Tutorial

By Tori McElwain for Quilting with Darla


Adding borders should be simple. There are a few suggestions I have to make borders easier to choose and to help keep your quilt more square!

Plus a free pattern and tutorial on how to turn a Fabric Panel into a quilt just by adding borders!


Firstly, since the fabric is pushed slightly as we sew, having long seams pushes the body of the quilt in the direction that we are sewing. When we add our quilt border from corner to corner, this slight push can add up when sewing along a long seam and cause the body of the quilt to stretch in one direction. Then we flip and sew the border on the opposite side, from corner to corner, causing the body of the quilt to be pushed in the opposite direction - turning our square quilt into a parallelogram.

To help solve this conundrum, I suggest sewing your borders on from the middle of the quilt to the corner! This will not only cut the push effect in half, but it will allow your quilt to be pushed out towards all 4 corners, encouraging the shape to stay square.

Secondly, I suggest that you choose your border size depending on the size of the quilt you desire AND the size of your block. If your border(s) are larger than your blocks it could draw the focus away from the body of the quilt, rather than providing a frame or extra dimension.

In some cases, patterns are made to draw your attention to the border, but a good rule of thumb is to keep your border size(s) the same or smaller in width as your blocks.

Thirdly, color. Color can be tricky and the color of your border can make or break a quilt. I have a few suggestions, but follow your intuition and be sure you like the effect of the border you choose.
I love framing my quilts with the darkest color in a quilt. Bonus points if the dark fabric incorporates other colors in the quilt!

I also love to use multiple colors. Usually one of these is a solid or textured solid. I take a light or medium (or both!) colors from the quilt and the darkest color (to frame!). You can see an example above or watch the tutorial below.

I illustrate these points by creating a fast and simple lap quilt by adding borders to a fabric panel.
 
Panel Pattern: 
Here is a list of materials you need if you'd like to make your own fabric panel quilt:
  1. Fabric Panel (most are 1 yard cuts approx. 36in x 42 in)

  2. 1 yard of inner border fabric (mine was yellow, I also use this for binding)

  3. 1 yard of 2nd border fabric (mine was orange)

  4. 1.5 yards of outer border fabric (mine was dark blue)

  5. Matching thread

This will make a 68 x 60 lap size quilt. I am 5'4" and it covers me from head to toe (see video below!)
I cut strips from the yardage as follows:
  • Yellow (1st border): 5 strips at 2.5 inches

  • Orange (2nd border): 5 strips at 4.5 inches

  • Dark Blue (3rd border): 6 strips and 6.5 inches

I use the leftover yellow as binding. I cut my binding strips at 2.5 inches.

See the tutorial by Tori below for more details!
 


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