I’ve used heavy rulers, I’ve used cans of soup, I’ve even used a person on the other side of the machine, hands keeping the area flat. What am I doing? Trying to long-arm quilt a border that is far larger than the center of the quilt!
Borders! They’re that misunderstood step to finishing your quilt that will make or break it.
The most common problem I see as a long-arm quilter is borders that have stretched larger than the pieced quilt top. This happens when borders are added to a top without measuring, and are sewed to the top, then trimmed to length.
This problem gets worse the more borders you have on a quilt, and the larger the quilt. If you send your quilt to a long-arm quilter, you may notice that your borders almost have a “ruffled” look when it returns. This is because the quilter eased in all the extra fabric from the borders stretching and growing.
I want to give you a quick, step-by-step tutorial on how to attach borders to your quilt that will make your quilt top as flat as possible.
1. Measure the width of your quilt from side to side through the center. Cut two border strips to this length, piecing as necessary.
2. Fold each border strip in half to find the center, and then fold the strip again to divide it into four parts. Mark the folds with pins as shown. Mark the quilt in the same manner. Pin the borders to the top and bottom edges of the quilt, matching the pins and ends. Ease or slightly stretch the quilt to fit the border strip as necessary. Sew the top and bottom borders in place with a 1/4″-wide seam allowance and press the seam allowances toward the borders.
3. Measure the length of the pieced top through the center, including the just-added borders. Cut two border pieces to this measurement, piecing as necessary. Fold each border strip in half to find the center, and then fold the strip again to divide it into four parts. Mark the folds with pins as shown. Mark the quilt-top in the same manner. Pin the borders to the sides of the quilt, matching the pins and ends. Sew the side borders in place with a 1/4″-wide seam allowance, easing as necessary, and press the seam allowances toward the borders.
4. Repeat steps 1-3 for each additional border you add. (Or you could use math, which is the method I use.)
See? Easy peasy! You and your long-arm quilter will be thrilled with the results, and no more cans of soup needed!