I’d like to again say that this is only what works for me. The way I make borders is my personal preference, not based on some border school I’ve attended or any advanced design training . . it’s just the way I like for my quilts to look. If you make quilts with one narrow, non-pieced border, or you make your quilts with 10 one inch borders . . so long as you like them . . that’s great! My quilts are no better than your quilts; in fact, most of you make prettier quilts than I make. I’m just sharing info I’ve been asked to share.
There’s a lot of talk about Fibonacci Numbers related to quilting. The thought goes through my head as I’m creating borders . . sometimes, but I always do what feels right or looks right. You can google “fibonacci numbers” if you want to learn more about it. It’s truly an interesting concept though it doesn’t always work when you’re trying to get to a number that will work for a pieced border.
Here’s an interesting story.
This was the first quilt I ever designed totally from scratch. I entered it in lots of shows when it was first made and it won lots of ribbons. One quite famous quilter/judge happened to judge this quilt at two shows within a couple of months of each other. I’m not going to say her name or the shows where this happened but the first time she judged it, and I’m not looking at the comments, though I did save them, she said something like . . the outer border is too wide for the quilt and the quilting overpowers the quilt. It happened to win a fist place ribbon at that show though. When the quilt came back from another show and I was reading the judges’ comments, I noticed this same person who had written the above comments at the first show, wrote this the second time she saw the quilt . . Excellent quilting in outer border. Nicely frames the quilt! Go figure! Then Bonnie Browning asked to use the quilt in her book, Borders & Finishing Touches 2 so my feelings weren’t too hurt over the first comments I received.
But, to me, that proved that I could do whatever I wanted to do with my borders. And, honestly, I make the quilts I want to make and I make them the way I like them. If they turn out nice enough, I enter them in shows but for the most part, I do not design a quilt, piece it and make it with the intention of it being in a show quilt.
A few hard fast rules I try to follow:
- When deciding on borders, my first decision is whether there will be a pieced border at some point. If so, I have to decide the size of the blocks in the pieced border and my main goal is then to get the quilt size to where it will be a multiple of that number by the time I get to that border. This sometimes take adding several borders prior to the pieced border. Often the side borders will need to be wider than the top and bottom borders (or vice versa) to get the pieced border to work. Suppose I need to add an extra 4″ (total) to the sides. It’s easier to add 1″ to the sides of one border (both sides = 2 extra inches) and then add 1″ to the sides of another border (both sides = 2 extra inches so I now have those 4 inches needed) than it is to add 2″ to the two sides of one border. That can sometimes make the quilt look a little out of balance. We’ll talk more about this later.
- I try to never end my quilts with a pieced border. As a longarmer, I know the problems this can create. Also, when adding binding, I sew it on using a 3/8″ seam allowance so if there are any points in an outer pieced border, I’m going to lose them. So, I try to always add a non-pieced border as the outer border.
- Do you want your binding to be the same color as your outer border? If so, you’ll want to end with that same fabric that you’re using for your binding.
- I look for a “framing” appearance when adding my borders. You can see the example in the Peaches & Dreams quilt. See how the center portion and the pieced border, are “framed” by the narrow orange border? Then the entire quilt is “framed” by the outer orange border.
How many borders are right? It’s up to you! Don’t you love it? It’s your quilt and as long as you’re happy with it, you can have 1 border or 100 borders . . whatever you want! Let the quilt be your guide.