Thanks for dropping by to take a look at some of my thoughts and ideals. Hope you will let me know if this has been helpful, useful, inspiring or whatever, and remember to come back soon.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Borders and things

Tossed Nine Patch with Borders

Nine Patch and Borders
 I had thought about the ideal of posting about colors today, but instead

want to share some information about borders.  Borders are wonderful things.  They create a frame for our quilts.  They tell us, here is where the pattern stops.  My job is to brings all those wonderful blocks together and enhance the colors and pattern.   Now I know that many people have taken blocks they have made and just decided they don't want to make any more of those blocks, or else they ran out of one of the fabrics and the quilt is not as large as they wanted it to be so they add very wide borders just to enlarge the overall area of the quilt and make it fit the bed.  This is doable with the right combination of borders.  There is absolutely nothing that says your quilt has to have only 1 border!!  As a matter of fact, borders are a wonderful way to bring several different block sizes together to make a quilt (Tossed Nine Patch with Borders).  In this particular quilt I used a couple of different charm packs.  The problem was the sizes of the squares from the two charm packs were different.  I believe one set had maybe 5 1/2" squares and the other had 6 1/2" squares.  Being the lazy person that I am, I did not want to recut the squares.  I simply made the blocks and then used one set at an extra border and the other set as the main part of the quilt.  This also had the effect of enlarging the size of finished to quilt which was an added benefit.  If you have never tried the "Tossed Nine Patch" pattern it is quick and easy and you can easily complete a quilt top in an afternoon.

Borders are also a way to take a few blocks and make a small quilt (Nine Patch and Borders).  After completing a group of quilts from a Jelly Roll, I had 4 nine patch blocks left and some other odds and ends of fabric left over from the project.  Well I didn't want those orphan blocks to just be tossed into a basket somewhere and left for no telling how long before I pulled them out again.  I decided to just go ahead and try to use all of the scraps from my project and sewed the 4 blocks together with sashing and cornerstones and then started adding borders.  The borders are all different sizes and a couple have cornerstones and the first border I actually used two different fabrics.  The quilt turned out really cute and I have had people tell me they want to make that quilt.  It's a great way to use odds and ends of fabric.  The entire fabric line for this quilt was batiks and this is what makes the quilt work.

You can see from these pictures of quilts I have made that borders can be used in different ways and there are all types of twist to regular borders that can be added.  If you don't have enough fabric to do a standard border but really want to use that fabric think about adding a section in a couple of the borders pieces that coordinates.   These extra pieces can be added at one corner of the quilt or you can do opposite corners on the quilt.  Doing opposite corners is always a good ideal and makes people know that you planned this effect and not that you just ran out of fabric, which you did but everyone doesn't need to be aware of the fabric shortage. 

Now to the main reason I am writing this particular note.  When you add borders, please don't cut a piece of fabric the width you want for the border and whatever length and just match the top and start sewing, and when you run out of quilt top cut the border to match.  Every border will be a different length and will make the quilting much harder.  Lay your quilt out and if you need to you can fold it in half.  Fold top to bottom first and measure to get the length of the side borders.  Measure in 3 places.  The left side, the right side and the middle of the quilt.  Hopefully your measurements will all be within 1/4".  If they are, cut your border the length of the smallest measurement.  This will even work if there is up to 1/2" difference.  If there is more than 1/2" difference then you will need to add the 3 numbers together and then divide by 3 to get an average.  If your three measurements are 38 inches 36 inches and 37 inches then add 38, 36, and 37 and you will get a total of 111 inches.  Divide 111 by 3 and the answer is 37.  Cut your borders 37 inches.  Yes you will need to ease the borders and ajust them to fit so be sure and pin the top the bottom and the middle of the border to the top the bottom and the middle of the quilt top and then as you are sewing the difference will be eased or stretched more evenly which will help.  Repeat this process for the top and bottom borders again folding right to left and measuring at the top the bottom and across the middle, and cutting your border according to the above formula. 

Why do I recommend this method.  Your quilts will turn out with square corners.  If you machine quilt or have someone else machine quilt the finished top you will have fewer pleats and fewer wavey borders.  I've quilted a lot of quilts and very few quilts have square corners and very few quilts have borders that are not wavey.  Don't beat yourself up over the quilt top not being perfect!  I've always been told the sign of a good carpenter is the one who can hide his/her mistakes.  I believe the same applies to the quilter.  I've also always liked the Lady Godiva rule.  If Lady Godiva were sitting on her horse, naked, with her long flowing hair her only covering beside your quilt hanging on a line, a car load of people are driving down the road at 50 miles per hour and those people notice the mistake in the quilt, then you need to fix it.  If they don't notice the mistake in the quilt, then it's fine.  Finish it and enjoy the learning experience.

I hope you enjoy the post and have a happy quilting week.

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