Use striped fabrics effectively in your quilt design

Stripes can be very eye catching when used in a quilt, but sometimes you have to use special techniques when incorporating them into a quilt design. Northcott almost always has as awesome stripe in each fabric line. Whether it’s a plain stripe, a border stripe, a wavy stripe or a complex stripe, they all look amazing when used correctly. Today I’m going to show you some great ways to use striped fabrics in your quilts.

Using striped fabrics for a border

Nellie and I love using stripes for inner borders, but they pose a problem at the corners. Do you miter the seam, add a corner stone or extend the stripe out to the next border? All of those options give a completely different look.

Different border options for striped fabrics

Joining strips to make a long border

When you’re using a stripe in a long border and you need to join two (or more) strips together to get the correct length, it’s almost always better to use a straight join since a mitred join would look very obvious unless you matched all of the stripes up exactly.

Border strips joined with a mitered seam

Border strips joined with a straight seam – you can hardly see the seam

Striped border on the Mountain View quilt

For my Mountain View quilt, I asked for the Mystic Garden stripe to use as my inner border. I think for this quilt, using a mitered corner is the way to go. I cut my strips the correct width as outlined in the pattern and joined them together with a straight join. Then I measured the length of my quilt and added 6″. If you’re using a different width of border, you need to add extra inches that equal twice the width of the border plus an extra couple inches – for example if your border is 3” wide, add 8” (3” x 2 + 2”).

I measured the width of the quilt, added 6″ to this measurement and cut my top and bottom borders this length.

Tips for sewing mitered borders

Since we often have mitered corners in our quilt patterns, Nellie and I have come up with these tips for sewing on the borders and using a mitered seam.

1. Mitered borders are a little tricky but look fantastic when using certain border prints, stripes or repeating prints.

2. Measure the side of the quilt that you are sewing the border to. Mark the center of the quilt. Mark the center of the border and make a mark at each end of the border the exact measurement of the quilt.

3. Pin the border to the quilt matching the center mark and the two ends. Sew the border to the edge of the quilt leaving a ¼” un-sewn at each end. Be sure to backstitch each end to secure your stitching. Press the seams towards the border. You’ll have extra fabric at each end of the border.

4. Sew remaining borders on using the above method. Be careful not to catch the excess fabric in your seam allowance.

5. Lay one corner of the quilt right side up on the ironing board. Fold one of the borders under (wrong sides together) at a 45° angle leaving the other border flat and underneath the folded border. Line the angle up with the corner of the quilt.

6. Pin the fold and use a square to make sure everything is correct and square. Press the fold and remove the pins.

7. Place a piece of masking tape over the fold and turn quilt over. Draw a line on the crease.

8. Fold the quilt right sides together diagonally from the corner making sure the border seams line up at the corner.

9. Begin sewing the two border together starting at the inside corner and using the 45° pencil line as a guide. Backstitch and remove masking tape before finishing the seam. Trim away the excess fabric at the seam to a ¼” and press seams open.

10. Repeat steps 5 – 9 for the remaining 3 borders.

Sewing the mitered seam

Press the seams open

Straight border – Mystic Garden quilt top

For my lap quilt, I’m going to use cornerstones in the striped border so that I don’t need to do a mitered join. But to make the border a bit more interesting, I’m going to cut the side borders narrower than the top and bottom borders. The beauty of the cornerstone is that they don’t need to be square! I cut my side borders 1½” wide and my top and bottom borders 3” wide. My cornerstones just need to be cut 1½” x 3” and they will join up the borders beautifully!! Easy!

Rectangular cornerstones for the striped border on the quilt top

I measured the length of my quilt and cut two borders this length from the 1½” wide border strips.

I measured the width of my quilt and cut two borders this length from the 3” wide border strips.

I sewed the narrow strips to the two sides of the quilt and pressed the seams towards the striped border. I sewed the cornerstones to each end of the wider border strips and again pressed the seams towards the striped border. This allows the seams to but up against each other when I sew the top and bottom borders onto the quilt.

Matching up the seams when sewing on the striped borders

Adding the final purple border

Once the striped borders are sewn and pressed, the final purple border can be added to the quilt top. Once again I measured the length of the quilt, cut and sewed on the side borders and then measured the width and repeated the process with the top and bottom borders.

Since the cornerstones in the striped border are the same fabric as the purple borders, the striped borders appear to “float” on each side of the quilt.

Striped borders floating in the purple border

Using stripes in a block

Striped fabrics can also be quite stunning when used in quilt blocks. You just have to be careful when cutting the striped fabric to make sure that the stripes are oriented the correct way. Here are a few blocks that have striped fabrics in them.

Different blocks made with striped fabrics

Striped binding

Stripes can also be used to make quilt binding and can be cut on the straight grain or on the bias (if you want the stripes to be diagonal). I have just enough of the striped fabric left to make binding for my lap quilt! I cut six strips 2½” wide x WOF (width of the fabric) and then followed the same directions as in my QuiltSocial blog post from October 2014 entitled “Do You Know How to Bind a Quilt?

Striped binding made with the Mystic Garden fabric

I’m seeing stripes!!

Wow, after all of that I hope that you can see that there are many options available for striped fabric. I’ve added the final border to my Mountain View quilt and all of the borders are on my lap quilt. Northcott’s Mystic Garden fabric is just lovely and I can’t wait to quilt both of these samples!! I hope that I have been able to demonstrate today that there are many great ways to use striped fabrics in your quilts.

This is part 4 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 3:  Sewing the Mystic Garden quilt top

Go to part 5: The right way to prepare your quilt for a longarm quilter

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Judy November 6, 2018 - 8:45 am
Thanks for the help with stripes. Now I'm ready to try!
Gail Weiss July 14, 2016 - 1:11 am
Thanks for the info on using stripes!
Rosalie July 13, 2016 - 6:30 pm
This was helpful showing the different options for a striped border.
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