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Old 02-11-2015, 01:45 AM
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Default Border-phobia

I am an inexperienced quilter. I joined a local guild not only to learn more but to also meet people. I became friends with a member that has been quilting for 20+ years. She offered to teach me more about quilting. I told her I would be more than happy to pay her for her time, but she refused. She said she enjoyed helping newbies out. I have learned a lot from her. Right now I have 6 quilt tops in various stages of progress. My big problem with 5 of the tops is it's time to add the borders. I love how double borders look and feel that would add so much to the look of the tops I have done. I am a perfectionist. Even though someone else might never find the boo boo I made, I can basically find it in the dark. So I also want the borders as pleasing to my eye as possible. When I got to the point of adding borders, my friend told me that if not done as close to perfect as possible, the entire quilt will basically be a moot point. So now I have developed a phobia of adding borders!! Does this sound crazy? Of course it does!!! I read this board and any magazine or book I can get my hands on and understand the way to construct them but I'm so worried that I will add the borders and ruin all the time, money and hard work I have put into the tops. Yes I know I can unsew them but I will literally sew, unsew, sew, unsew. I have seen some people on this board talk about putting the two borders together prior to adding them to the quilt. I mentioned it to my friend and she sort of went a bit crazy about how you must never do that, I will be asking for trouble. She can tend to be a quilt nazi lol.

Sorry for babbling. I'll get to the point. What's the general opinion of sewing two borders together prior to adding them to the quilt top. What are the pros and cons? And how do I get over my phobia of feeling I'm going to ruin my top if I make a mistake putting the borders on. I know part of learning is just doing it, but I really need some tips to get me to the point of even being brave enough to cut the borders. I am not doing mitered borders because my friend told me I wasn't ready to tackle that and there's a higher chance of making mistakes.

Sorry this is so long. Thank you for reading it all the way through!!
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Old 02-11-2015, 02:04 AM
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I'm not best placed to give any advice about how to add borders, I'm afraid your friend wouldn't approve of my, grab the fabric and go for it method, but I would say to you that I think your mentor is perhaps now hindering rather than helping. If you've made the tops then you're ready to add the borders. So what if you make some errors in the process, its only a big deal if you allow it to be one. You're in charge, not your mentor and tbh unless you bite the bullet and get on with it, you'll be stuck thinking you can't do something when my guess is you can do it perfectly well. Measure twice, cut once, is a good place to start. Watch the videos, and you will fine. And out of sheer damned cussedness on my part I'd make those borders with mitred corners
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Old 02-11-2015, 02:20 AM
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My mentor does have hard core thoughts/opinions. Don't use poly batting. Don't let the longarmer use poly thread. That I need to upgrade my sewing machine which is only a year old and I am very comfortable with.

Sheilz- thinking about you said, I feel you are right. She is probably hindering more than helping. I really appreciate you being honest with your opinion of my mentor. Sometimes I just needed someone to confirm what I've been thinking I guess.
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Old 02-11-2015, 03:03 AM
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Wow, she really got into your head with her "rules"! Relax, it's not as scary as you think.

My bits of border advice:
* Audition different fabrics with your quilt centers. Unless my border fabric is also my focus fabric, I often wait till the center is done before I select any border fabrics because I tend to change my mind. If I do happen to select border fabrics prior to construction, I don't cut them until I'm ready to add borders, in case I change my mind at that point as well.

* If you are mitering the corners, sewing multiple borders together before sewing to the center will work, otherwise, add them one at a time.

* Vary the color/scale of each border to add interest

* Think of borders like you would art and how adding one or more mats along with the frame can really enhance the "art".

* Ditch the measuring tape/ruler when cutting the border length. I Follow Bonnie Hunter's method for perfect borders without measuring. It's difficult if you don't have a long enough table and fabric/measuring tapes can stretch or give just enough to make the cut inaccurate. If my top is longer than my table, I fold the top and pin the strips along the center fold, then fold the extra up as I go along when I am preparing to cut the borders to length.


* Pin! I start pinning the ends, middle, 1/4 way points, then pin every 6" or so.

* The only "rule" I follow is to NOT sew, then trim the borders after sewing, because that can result in a wavy border.
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Old 02-11-2015, 03:28 AM
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Your mentor sounds like the woman who taught me how to sew garments.

There came a moment when I had to say to her (and myself) "I got into this for fun, and trying this approach looks like fun to me. I have to start creating my own rules to sew by." That took a lot of the pressure off of both of us. I had to venture out and make my own mistakes, and in some cases, learn that only my eye saw the mistakes.
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Old 02-11-2015, 03:38 AM
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Just keep reading about borders and how to measure for them . Yes, you measure from the centers of the quilt top and not the edges. This reduces and eliminates the "wavy border" . Relax and have fun. Trial and error...we all learn. Peruse the picture section to view how others interpreted their borders. There is a trend to NOT add a final border esp on pieced tops vs ones using panels. It is your creativity that is where the fun begins. She taught you the basics. Now you tke over on the creativity and personal preference.

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Old 02-11-2015, 04:18 AM
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If you are not mitering your borders there is no need to sew them together in advance. If you are mitering, I couldn't imagine doing it any other way!

I completely agree with Katier825's comment to think of your borders as you would mats on a print you are framing.

There are a couple of theories regarding measuring. 1) measure through the center only and use that measurement; 2) measure center as well as both sides and use the average of the 3. I tend to only measure through the center. I use a plastic measuring tape and move it along as needed being careful to mark where I am picking up my next point to begin with the tape.

If a particularly long border and I have the length of fabric, I will frequently tear it vs cutting it. I tear about 1/2 wider than I need and press to get all the waviness out then trim down to the width I need. And then I, too, pin beginning in the center, move to the ends and then, depending on how much 'ease' (extra fabric) I might have to worry about, will determine how frequently I pin within those mid-points. Then just sew! If there is a reasonable amount of 'ease' you are dealing with, put the baggy fabric on the bottom next to your feed dogs. This will help to get the extra fabric evenly distributed over the length of your border vs having 'pleats' along the way.

General rule of thumb is to add your side borders before adding top/bottom borders. This is simply because it's a more efficient use of fabric. There is nothing etched in stone.

If using multiple borders, personally, I tend to use a thinner (1.5 - 3") solid color (or a fabric that 'reads' solid) and then a wider outer border. I think the the plain inner border makes a nice visual break between the quilt top and the outer border. These are my personal preferences and certainly not any 'rules'.

We are all supposed to be doing this for fun. Relax and simply enjoy the process. I, too, prefer cotton batting to poly. That is my preference. As to poly vs cotton thread...relax! I use poly thread when piecing. I use whatever thread I have on hand that is close enough in to color to what I need. My machine is not picky. I happen to use cotton thread when quilting but that is because I am a hand quilter and that is what is available for 'hand quilting' thread.

And why would you possibly need to upgrade your year old machine? Is it not performing well? Have you already outgrown it? If you are comfortable with it and it performs well, where is the problem?

If you are having questions about fabric choices for your borders, post photos here. We'll all help!
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Old 02-11-2015, 04:36 AM
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Thanks everyone!! She says that I need to upgrade my machine because it's a brother. I have never seen in my life and wanted to learn to make a quilt. IMO it was stupid for me to spend $1000+ on a machine that I didn't even know if it was something I would enjoy doing doing. I really like my machine. It's easy to operate has a few extra bells and whistles. She has higher end machines but what I have suits me just fine. I'm not going out and buying something else. I have just come to the conclusion she's a very controlling person.

I appreciate everyone making me feel more at ease. In theory, I know how I'm suppose to do borders but I guess she really has me questioning my abilities. I have been in my sewing room getting the fabric I have purchased for borders for my tops with the tops to dive in and work on it. Hopefully after getting through the first one, I can be more confident.
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Old 02-11-2015, 04:56 AM
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I do sew multiple borders together before adding them to my quilt top. Relax, there is more material at the quilt shop. You can also leave off borders and finish the quilt.
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Old 02-11-2015, 05:04 AM
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All of the above advice is spot on! The only other suggestion I can think of is perhaps make some smaller items like place mats or a table or bed runner and put a couple of borders on each of them for practice before you tackle your quilts to build your confidence up. Then you will need to practice the art of binding too!! ��
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