Those of you who are my vintage and are familiar with the 70s tune Alice’s Restaurant will get the joke about the photos. The rest of you…well, you are missing out on a great hippie song and pardon my esoteric sense of humor.
I got some feedback last time I posted about making pieced borders fit a quilt using an intermediary or what I will call a filler border, that without photos my instructions were confusing. So I decided to give it another try with photos. I am going to use the above quilt with one set of borders already on and show you how I go through the process, step by step. I ran into several issues with this quilt, which gives me the opportunity to explain how to solve some of the issues you may run into as well.
Step number one is to pick out a pieced border that you want to add. I try to make the pieced border at least 3 inches longer than the side of the quilt that it is going to go on, not including corner pieces. If the pieced border is much smaller than 3 inches larger than the quilt, you end up working with tiny strips for the filler border. I will deal with corners at the end of the post. No need to even think about them for now.
For this quilt, I decided to make 3 inch (finished size) components. I first measured out the length and width of the quilt and originally decided that I needed 18 pieces for the length (sides of the quilt) and 15 pieces for the width (top and bottom of the quilt). I went ahead and made the components and sewed them together for all four sides, which immediately brought up the first issue. The top and bottom border turned out to be almost the same size as the width of the quilt. If I would have left it this way, the filler border would have ended up being tiny on two sides and proportionally very large on the other two sides. Not the look I was going for. You can see the issue in this photo.
Another issue is I needed to end all ends of the borders with a piece that has the blue stripe in the middle rather than the plain gray piece in order to properly accommodate for the corner transition piece, so I added an additional piece to the side borders. Here is a closeup of the corner transition.
That meant I couldn’t add just a plain piece onto the end of the top and bottom border, but would need to add 2 pieces. So that’s what I did. So I ended up with 19 pieces in the side border and 17 in the top and bottom borders. After I had the pieces added that were needed, I remeasured my pieced borders. Then I measured the length and width of the quilt again and did the calculations for the filler border. Using the fabric that I wanted for the filler border, I thought the pieces were way to large. I wanted the filler to be an accent, not a dominant feature. The filler pieces would have been over 3 inches wide finished. So I decided to add a 2 1/2 inch strip of the dark brown around all four sides. Which I did, and then remeasured my quilt width and length once again. This one is the length at 56 1/2.
And this is the width at 48 1/2.
I should then have remeasured all of the pieced borders just to be on the safe side. Because I didn’t, the side pieced borders weren’t the same length, an entire inch off. I discovered that on one, I had cut one of the pieces too large and also had to tighten up the pieces by making some of the seams a little deeper. The borders ended up the same size, but I had also totally mis-measured the one I had previously measured to begin with and after I put my filler border on, it was way too big. I had to trim a half-inch off each side of the filler. Lesson learned, always measure both of your borders before you do calculations. But now that I have the correct measurements, I will use those to illustrate the calculations.
Dear Hubby wanted me to include this photo of the hieroglyphics of my measurements. It IS pretty funny. Don’t try to figure it out. It would make you crazy.
The sides of the quilt measured in at 56 1/2. The side pieced borders measured 58 inches. Subtract the quilt measurement from the border measurement. So 58 minus 56 1/2. That gives you a measurement of 1 1/2. That is the total amount I needed to lengthen the quilt in order for the side borders to fit. Because I am lengthening the quilt I want to add this amount to the top and bottom of the quilt. So I want to divide that number in half so that I have an equally sized filler piece on both the top and bottom. So half of 1 1/2 is 3/4 of an inch. I then add a half-inch to that for seam allowance to each piece. So each piece would be 1 1/4 inches wide by the width of the quilt. Cut, sew, iron and attach these pieces to the top and bottom of the quilt.
The top and bottom of the quilt, the width, was 48 1/2. The pieced borders for the top and bottom measured out to 52 inches. Subtract 48 1/2 from 52, and I got 3 1/2 inches. Once again, because I am now trying to make the quilt wider, I am going to add equal sized pieces to the sides of the quilt. So 3 1/2 divided by 2 equals 1 3/4. Add 1/2 inch for seam allowance on both pieces, so I need a piece that is 2 1/4 inches wide by the length of the quilt. Since I have already added my filler to the top and bottom of the quilt, I remeasure the length and cut fillers for the sides that length. Cut, sew, iron and attach these two to the sides. None of these calculations take into account the four corner pieces. If you cut the four corner pieces exactly the same size as your pieced border pieces, you don’t have to include them in your math. They will just fit.
The next step is to lay out all four of your pieced borders in their respective spots and be sure your calculations were correct. If you don’t need to make any adjustments to your filler border sizes, I usually pin the sides first. Remember at this step when checking for fit that pieced borders have a little give in them so if you’re 1/8th of an inch too long on your filler, it’s no big deal. Your pieced border can be eased on. Here is my first side piece pinned in place.
I sew both of the side borders. Then I add the corner pieces to the top and bottom pieced borders.
Iron keeping in mind you want the corners to nest nicely with the side pieced border, pin and sew.
Voila, you have perfect fitting pieced borders. The top and bottom fillers are smaller than I had wanted since I had messed up my measurements, but I got tire of messing with it, so called it good enough. I have at least one more pieced border I am going to put on this quilt. It is a lot of work, but I think the effort is well worth the dynamic end results. I usually allow at least a whole 8 hour day to do a pieced border from start to finish….this last one took me 2 1/2 days because I made a bunch of mistakes that I didn’t mention. At first I was going to add more gray on either side of the pieced border to make the filler borders smaller, and had everything cut and sewn when I realized that wouldn’t solve the problem at all. Then when I cut the brown, I cut the wrong size. At least I didn’t have everything sewn together yet and had plenty of fabric to do the right size. Lesson is, don’t work on this at 6 PM when you’ve been at it all day and haven’t had dinner.
Please, if you have any questions, I would be happy to try to answer them. And I hope this is more helpful than my previous post.