The best way to sew perfectly flat outer borders

Yesterday on QUILTsocial, we sewed a striped border to our lap quilt and used an Omnigrid 6 x 24 ruler to mark the mitered corners. With this border sewn on, we can now add the last two borders to our quilt.

Some quilters may say that once you’ve put a mitered border on a quilt, any other borders added after it need to be mitered too, but I’m all about making things easier for myself and I say that if the rest of your borders are non-directional fabrics, you don’t have to do this. So, today I’m adding simple, straight borders onto the curvy quilt I’ve been working on all week.

The second outer border is the orange dot fabric that coordinates with my fat quarters of Forest Friends fabric by Fabric Creations. This border will finish at 1″, so I’ll cut six strips that are 1½” wide.

Cut 6 border strips 1½” wide.

While I’m cutting, I might as well cut the outer border fabric too. I need six – 6 wide strips, so our border finishes at 5½”.

Cut 6 border strips 6″ wide.

A word of advice about adding borders to your quilt: measure your quilt and cut the borders that size to ensure your borders lie nice and flat. Many quilters cut the border extra-long and start sewing the border at one end. When they get to the far end, they cut off the border to match the quilt. This often results in borders that are either too big or too small for the quilt, as the sewing machine may pull the fabrics through at different speeds. The quilt top won’t lie flat and you’ll end up with puckers or pleats when you (or a longarm quilter) go to quilt it. I always know how a quilter added their borders when I mount their quilt on my longarm. If the quilt border has a wave to it, the borders weren’t measured and pinned before sewing. It’s almost impossible to quilt the customer’s quilt without little tucks or puffy spots appearing.

To prevent this from happening on your next quilt, let’s go over the correct process now.

Step 1 – Measure, measure, measure

Lay your quilt flat on the floor or a table. Use a long tape measure like the Unique 60″ Tape Measure to measure the length of the quilt through the middle. Write this number down. Now measure along one long side and the other long side and write these numbers down, too.

Measure the length through the middle of the quilt.

Step 2 – Cut borders

If all three of your measurements are the same, that’s great! If they are off by a half-inch or so, cut two border strips using the middle measurement.

If your border strips aren’t long enough, join strips end to end with a mitered join and press the seams open.

Join border strips with a mitered join and then press seams open.

Step 3 – Pin and sew borders to the quilt

Find the center of the quilt by folding it in half and placing a pin at the center on one side. Fold quilt in half again and pin the centers – this divides the quilt into four even sections. Do the same with your border so there are three pins in both the quilt and the border strip.

Lay the quilt flat on the table or floor and lay the border on top, right sides together. Match up the ends and the points with the pins and pin the two layers together. You now have your border spaced evenly along the side of your quilt. Do this with the other long side of the quilt.

You may find that either the border or the quilt is a bit bigger than the other, but that’s okay! Apply even resistance as you’re sewing, and the extra fabric will be eased into the seam.

Pin the border evenly to the side of the quilt.

Step 4 – Repeat for top and bottom borders

Follow the same process to cut and sew the top and bottom borders to the quilt.

Lay the quilt on the floor or table and measure the width of the quilt along both top and bottom and through the middle. Average these measurements and cut the outer borders accordingly.

Pin these borders to the quilt and sew.

Measure the width of the quilt.

And here it is… the finished quilt top! The Forest Friends fabric by Fabric Creations is so cute, and I think a little boy or girl would love to get a snuggle quilt like this for Christmas!

The finished quilt top.

Next step… quilting.

Now that our quilt top is finished, it’s time to layer it with batting and backing. For this quilt I’ll use Fairfield’s new Toasty Cotton Natural Cotton Quilt Batting, and use up my leftovers from the Forest Friends fabric fat quarter bundles to make the backing.

Toasty Cotton batting by Fairfield

I’ve run out of time this week, but I’ll get that lap quilt finished and show you how it turns out the next time I blog for QUILTsocial.

It’s been a fun week using all these new notions, like the Twisted Square Template by Sew Easy and the Komfort Kut 1″ Rotary Cutter, as well as some of my favorite go-to notions like SCHMETZ 90/14 Microtex Needles, Gütermann Thread, my OLFA Scissors and Olfa Rotary Cutter, and my favorite Omnigrid Ruler. It’s so nice to own quality notions that you know you can count on!

And it’s been really nice getting back to blogging for QUILTsocial! I didn’t realize how much I’d missed it. I hope you and your family are staying safe in these crazy times. See you in a couple of months.

This is part 5 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 4: The best way to sew a mitered border

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