Tuesday, June 05, 2012

tip #20--cutting long borders

Several tips together here on how I cut long borders.

I first cut yardage from the length of grain, or piece segments from whatever I have, to a length a bit longer than I know I will need. I prepare two pieces, one for each side.
I cut two at once to ensure the quilt will be square.
Because I am pretty accurate with my sewing, I calculate what the border should measure. I add up the block measurements and sashings if included (this works with straight sets, not diagonal sets). I take this measure and divide by two. And I circle this final number.
So, if my math shows that the quilt border should be 107"
I divide by two and get 53.5.
My mat is 36", so I take a ruler, extend left from the 0 by 17.5 inches.
Fold the cut border in half, and place the fold at the end of the ruler.
Place a pin in the fold of each border.
Smooth it carefully until the ends fall beyond the mat.
Then place another ruler at the 36 inch mark.
I get the quilt, fold it in half, and lay it along the border. (The border might shrink a bit from the time I was smoothing--this is ok. Just make sure the left ruler remains in place.)
In this step, I fold the quilt at several places--the sides, middle, maybe one or two more. I watch to see that it measures close to what I want to cut it. I can always ease a bit.
This step ensures that my calculations are correct--I have several times discovered I was off by an inch or so, often by forgetting to calculate a first border correctly.
Also, I may find that the quilt top measures consistently larger or smaller than calculations predict--in which case, my sewing WASN'T as precise as I thought, and I know I need to cut my border a bit longer or shorter.
Once I am satisfied, I make the cut.
Then take the pin in the fold and place this on the center edge of the quilt.
Pin the start and end, and let the quilt tell me where I need to do some easing, pinning well.
Soon, how to put on a border with no pins!


Pat B said...

Thanks for the tip. That makes a lot of sense for borders that exceed the length of the cutting mat. Enjoy reading your blog.

Annette said...

I too used to measure and do the math for borders. No longer. I cut and sewed the borders on a quilt today, and it's perfectly square.
Here's how: I just cut my side borders a little longer than needed, fold the quilt in half, side to side, and smoothe the border pieces along the center fold and cut both the exact length of the quilt at center. Then I sew one to each side, easing as necessary. When I've pressed the side borders, I fold in half again, top to bottom, and "measure" at the center fold for the top and bottom borders. It works perfectly every time and no measuring!
I do make sure to make a nice square cut at the length indicated by the center folds---no freehand cutting.