The best way to sew a mitered border

Yesterday on QUILTsocial, we used the Twisted Square Template by Sew Easy to cut blocks to make a wonderful curved border for our lap quilt. Today I’m adding borders – the first of which will have mitered corners!

My quilt with its brown curved border has an uneven outside edge, so the first thing I need to do is to trim all four sides.

The twisted square quilt with curved border.

Trimming the brown border

First, I found the narrowest part of my brown border (about 4¼” from the top point of the curve), so I decided to trim all four borders at 3¾”. I used my Omnigrid 6 x 24 ruler to measure 3¾” from the top point of the curve. You might be able to cut your borders a little wider or you may need to cut narrower, depending on where you placed your original cutting guides on the Twisted Square Template.

Use your ruler to measure 3¾” from the top point of the curves.

Using my Olfa Deluxe Ergonomic Handle Rotary Cutter, Omnigrid 6 x 24 ruler and UNIQUE Cutting Mat I’ll trim off the excess fabric from the brown border. I’ll trim all the way around the quilt, making sure the ruler is set to measure 3¾” from the top of each curve.

Trim away the excess brown border.

Here’s one corner of the quilt after the brown border has been trimmed. Doesn’t it look great?

The trimmed brown curved border

Preview your borders

When designing my quilts, I always preview the borders before I cut or sew anything! The easiest way to do this is to pin your quilt top to your design wall (or lay it on your cutting table), fold the fabrics you want (or think you want) to use into long strips, and lay or pin them next to the quilt. You can adjust the width of the borders by re-folding or layering the fabrics differently. You can also add, subtract, or rearrange the borders until you get the look you want. After changing my fabrics around a few times, I decided on the following arrangement:

Preview your border by folding the fabrics into different widths and placing them beside the quilt.

Cut the border

I decided to use the striped fabric as my first border, and I want to do a mitered corner. I personally feel that striped borders look strange unless you add a corner block or use mitered corners. I’ve discussed using striped fabrics in your quilt design in other QUILTsocial post, and I invite you to look at them to help in making your decision.

This striped border will finish at 2, so I’m cutting my strips 2½” wide. I’ll need a total of six strips.

Cut the striped fabric 2½” wide.

Cut the borders

Measure the length of your quilt and add 6 to this measurement. Cut two striped borders this length. These will be the side borders. If you need to join strips to make your border the correct length, sew the strips together with a straight seam. If you use a mitered join with striped fabric, the stripes will never match up. A straight seam is virtually hidden in striped fabric.

Measure the width of your quilt and add 6 to this measurement. Cut two striped borders this length. These will be the top and bottom borders.

Pin the side borders

Pin the two side borders onto the sides of the quilt, making sure you don’t stretch the quilt or the border fabric while you’re pinning. Place a pin at both ends exactly ¼” from the end of the quilt. You’ll have about 3 of extra border fabric on each end.

Place a pin exactly ¼” from the end of the quilt.

Sew the borders

The side borders are then sewn to the quilt up to the pin at both ends. Make sure you backstitch at both ends, since the next seams will not go over top and secure the ends of these first seams. The two ends of the border are left loose. Press the seams towards the border fabric.

Sew up to the pin, ¼” from the end of the brown border, and backstitch.

Pin the top and bottom borders to the quilt and place a pin ¼” from the ends of the brown border (exactly where the seam of the side borders is sewn).

Place a pin exactly where the seam of the side border is sewn.

Sew the striped top and bottom borders to the quilt, stopping and backstitching at the pins at both ends. Press the seams towards the borders. The ends of all four borders are now loose, as shown in the next photo.

The ends of all the striped borders are now loose.

Mark the 45° angle

Place the 45° angle that is marked on the Omnigrid 6 x 24 ruler along the unsewn edge of the striped border, so the edge of the ruler is lined up with the end of the sewn seam. Use a fine-tipped marker to draw a line along the side of the ruler from the seam to the unsewn edge of the border.

Draw a 45° angled line from the end of the seam to the edge of the striped border.

Repeat this process until all eight loose ends of the borders have a diagonal line drawn on them.

The 45° angled line drawn on one end of the borders.

Line up the border ends

To line up the ends of two adjacent borders, place the two borders right sides together and stick a pin into the line ¼” from the edge of the border, making sure it comes out on the line on the other border. Sew along this line starting at the edge of the border fabric and ending at the point where the two borders meet the quilt.

Jean Boyd also talks about mitered borders in her QUILTsocial post titled ‘Tis the Season wall quilt and its mitered corners.

Lining up the two borders

Trim and press

After all the mitered seams are sewn, trim away the excess border fabric and press the seams open.

Press the seams open.

And here’s the finished striped border with its mitered corner:

The mitered corner

The 45° mark on my Omnigrid 6 x 24 ruler sure made it easy to mark and sew these mitered corners! Now that our first outer border has been sewn on, we’ll add the final two outer borders tomorrow. And don’t worry – these borders will be easy to sew, and I’ll show you the best way to get beautifully flat outer borders. See you tomorrow!

This is part 4 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 3: 6 key steps for an easy curved border

Go to part 5: The best way to sew perfectly flat outer borders

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