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Thread: confused about measuring borders

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    Super Member feffertim's Avatar
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    confused about measuring borders

    Can anyone explain to me why when measuring borders you can't just cut them a couple of inches longer and trim the ends after sewing them on. why do you have to measure from the middle of the quilt and cut the strip exactly as so many people seem to advise ? I figure there must be a good reason I don't know about.

  2. #2
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    Because a lot of times you will end up with wavy borders. Careful measuring will give you the best chance at not having wavy borders or puckers when it's quilted.

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    Senior Member kristakz's Avatar
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    If you cut long and sew them on, you can't guage the amount of stretch you are getting. This usually ends up with wavy borders. If you measure and cut exactly, you can ease (or stretch) the top to fit the correct length of border, and your quilt will be square with flat borders.
    I've done both, and while I haven't had horrible issues without measuring, I definitely get better results when I do.

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    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Having been there and done that, I can tell you exactly why. It's because the border fabric and the quilt edge tend to stretch as you sew. If you have not pre-measured and pre-cut, you will be highly likely to end up stretching the edge and sewing more border fabric to the edge of the quilt than the edge of the quilt should have. This results in ruffles at the edge of the quilt top. If you don't notice this until after you have quilted, you have a quilt with ruffley edges that will never lie straight and flat.

  5. #5
    Senior Member AndiR's Avatar
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    Often the edges of the quilt have stretched a bit while you are working on your top. If you add a border the way you suggested, you are adding a little more length each time you add a border. I once had a customer quilt where she had SEVEN 1-1/2" borders. By the time she finished adding them all, the edges of her quilt measured almost 5 inches more than the center portion!! She did not want to re-do them, so it made it VERY difficult for me to quilt the borders and get them to lay flat.

    I have a handout on applying borders on my website that you can print out for reference. It's located on the Tips & Hints page. Once you see how nice and flat your quilt is if you measure borders when applying them, you will be happy to take the few extra minutes it takes to do it.

    Andi

  6. #6
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    Will stay stitching the edge of the quilt before adding the border prevent any of the stretching problems?

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    Super Member auntpiggylpn's Avatar
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    Okay, I am going against the majority here. I don't measure my quilt before applying the border. I guesstimate the length and just make my borders strips longer than what I need and I trim the excess off when I am done. I don't cut my borders the length of the yardage but width of the fabric so my borders are always pieced and I am okay with that. I've never had a wavy border doing it this way.
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    Super Member feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by auntpiggylpn View Post
    Okay, I am going against the majority here. I don't measure my quilt before applying the border. I guesstimate the length and just make my borders strips longer than what I need and I trim the excess off when I am done. I don't cut my borders the length of the yardage but width of the fabric so my borders are always pieced and I am okay with that. I've never had a wavy border doing it this way.
    But I bet you have an out of square quilt. After doing your border this way, measure the right side, then measure the left side. Are the two the same? I bet they aren't.

    Do you use a longarm to quilt or hire a LAQ? If the answere is no, then it really doesn't make any difference unless you show. But if you do this and try to LA it is darn near impossible to LA the quilt without having to put a pleat in one or more of the borders.

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    Super Member feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TanyaL View Post
    Will stay stitching the edge of the quilt before adding the border prevent any of the stretching problems?
    No. By the time you are at that stage stretching has already occurred.

  10. #10
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by feffertim View Post
    Can anyone explain to me why when measuring borders you can't just cut them a couple of inches longer and trim the ends after sewing them on. why do you have to measure from the middle of the quilt and cut the strip exactly as so many people seem to advise ? I figure there must be a good reason I don't know about.

    I cut measure how long each border needs to be then add a bit. A lot easier than patching.
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    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peckish View Post
    Because a lot of times you will end up with wavy borders. Careful measuring will give you the best chance at not having wavy borders or puckers when it's quilted.

    I'm lost again. I have no idea who measuring can prevent puckering, but if you say so, I guess I'm just in the dark.
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    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TanyaL View Post
    Will stay stitching the edge of the quilt before adding the border prevent any of the stretching problems?
    stay stitching can result in puckers, too!
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    Super Member feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrannieAnnie View Post
    I'm lost again. I have no idea who measuring can prevent puckering, but if you say so, I guess I'm just in the dark.
    It really is only an issue when the quilt is quilted on a rack. A quilt must be perfect square (or within 1/2") square to quilt properly when on a rack. If it is not, as the quilt is quilted and advanced on the roller that excess fabric that is in the border (the result of NOT measuring the center but simply cutting and sewing until you reach the end) will bunch up until all of a sudden you have a big old ripple in the edge and no way to quilt it out. So you end up with a nice big pucker in the quilting or a pleat.

    If you hand quilt using a lap hoop or quilt on a domestic sewing machine from the center out it is not so much an issue but if you hang the quilt up instead of laying it on a bed the wavy borders will become quite evident. So again, if you don't use a longarm, and don't enter a quilt in shows it really doesn't matter, attach the borders any way you want. But be advised, I have seen situations here on this board where it did matter even though the quilter wasn't LA and wasn't showing. She laid that quilt out on the floor and those borders looked like old glory flapping away in a hurricane! They waved more than the queen of england.

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    Senior Member AndiR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by feline fanatic View Post
    But I bet you have an out of square quilt. After doing your border this way, measure the right side, then measure the left side. Are the two the same? I bet they aren't.
    And ALSO measure through the middle. I've often come across quilts that are about the same size on each side, but that measurement is several inches larger than the center of the quilt. That is when there are wavy borders.

    I've also encountered quilts where the MIDDLE measurement is larger than the border measurements. THEN I have a lot of fullness in the CENTER that I need to ease in.

    Ahhhh, if fabric were just more stable - less stretching, shifting or shrinking - it would make my job so much easier!!

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    Senior Member AndiR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrannieAnnie View Post
    I'm lost again. I have no idea who measuring can prevent puckering, but if you say so, I guess I'm just in the dark.
    Grannie Annie, it's because measuring ensures that your borders fit the center of your quilt correctly. So when the quilt is quilted, there is not a lot of extra fabric that needs to go somewhere - like in a pucker or tuck.

  16. #16
    Super Member Neesie's Avatar
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    Yep, yep, yep! Been there, done that, and learned the hard way. It may not happen every time . . . but sooner or later, it catches up with you.
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    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TanyaL View Post
    Will stay stitching the edge of the quilt before adding the border prevent any of the stretching problems?
    Stay stitching does help, but its not as good as the methods of using the center measurement described above. Starch also helps. Personally I do all , stay stitch, starch, and use my center measurement.

  18. #18
    Super Member auntpiggylpn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by feline fanatic View Post
    But I bet you have an out of square quilt. After doing your border this way, measure the right side, then measure the left side. Are the two the same? I bet they aren't.

    Do you use a longarm to quilt or hire a LAQ? If the answere is no, then it really doesn't make any difference unless you show. But if you do this and try to LA it is darn near impossible to LA the quilt without having to put a pleat in one or more of the borders.
    I probably do have an out of square quilt. I don't square mine. The quilts I make are not going into a show. I quilt my own. But I have to tell you that when I am done with my quilt and am folding it up, I'm not seeing any issues with them not being square. I haven't noticed that one side is longer or shorter than the other or that the edges don't fold up neatly together. I must just be lucky and the quilts aren't too wonky.
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  19. #19
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I always measure my quilts through the center, up and down and side to side, I find this works really well and I never have to square them up. They are the same size on both sides and the ends. I put 5 pins in both quilt and border strip, when I sew I pinch both edges in between the pins, sew to that point and then sew to the pin. I do this until the border is sewn on. This may take a few extra minutes but, I figure I have so much time in making a quilt that a few more minutes won't hurt. I am my worse critic and try to please myself. I only make quilts for my own entertainment, although I have given many away. I always make sure I'm pleased with my work. Make yours however it works. Others know what they are talking about.
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    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    I've seen quilts where the border was just added without measuring and it showed (one or two were my own very early on). When you measure down the middle then you can ease any difference between that measurement and the actual outside border when you attach the piece. Any difference can be distributed along the entire lenth so there are no puckers or waves.
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    because your sides are wonky if you don't.

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    Sounds like a lot of quilt police on here! I agree that measuring the length of the middle of the quilt and adding borders that exact length is more accurate. But... I've had wavy borders that way because I had to "ease" them to fit.

    I usually cut my borders about 6 inches too long, lay them RST flat on the quilt, and pin every few inches from the middle to the ends, never from top to bottom. At least that way I'm close....

    Tell the quilt police to take a hike and do it your own way!

  23. #23
    Super Member Neesie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RyanAmysMom View Post
    Sounds like a lot of quilt police on here! I agree that measuring the length of the middle of the quilt and adding borders that exact length is more accurate. But... I've had wavy borders that way because I had to "ease" them to fit.

    I usually cut my borders about 6 inches too long, lay them RST flat on the quilt, and pin every few inches from the middle to the ends, never from top to bottom. At least that way I'm close....

    Tell the quilt police to take a hike and do it your own way!
    The OP asked a question and people were answering it. That's what people on this board do - help and encourage each other . . . and answer questions.
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    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    I measure down the center, but always add about 6 inches and then just start at one end and sew to the other end and then cut off the excess. I have never had a wave yet. Yet means Y.our E.ligible T.oo! So, I guess I'll wait my turn. I sure hope it's not my king Civil war quilt being LArd right now. Yikes!!
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    Super Member feffertim's Avatar
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    Thanks to every one who answered my question. Now I know

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