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Thread: How to machine quilt borders?

  1. #1
    Member Silvia75's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013

    How to machine quilt borders?

    I love the whole quilting process from design - piece- quilt - bind. (o.k. I don't like basting)
    What always stumps me is the borders of a quilt - especially wide ones. What to put on them? I always leave this decision to the end after quilting all the rest, hoping some inspiration will come from previous quilting. I just don't like the marking and trying to figure out how to make it look even (having the pattern spaced out to fit the border without abrupt changes at the corners.) And of course it has to be a continuous design - Starting and stopping so much would drive me crazy and look terrible besides.
    Some modern quilts have no borders at all - cool! But since I make a lot of traditional patterns it seems a one border or more is needed for the whole quilt to look right.

    How do you design your borders? Do you plan it all out before you start quilting or do you wait and hope to get inspiration as you go through the process of quilting the center elements? Do you use a lot of continuous designs and FMQ? Any help would be gratefully appreciated.

  2. #2
    Super Member quiltsRfun's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Blog Entries
    Depending on the design and what you've done with the center, sometimes a crosshatch or simple lines (either vertical or horizontal) make a nice accent for the border. I tend to use the serpentine stitch on my machine a lot for kids quilts.

  3. #3
    Senior Member alisonquilts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Winston-Salem NC
    I'm definitely a wait-til-the-rest-is-quilted-and-hope-for-inspiration person. I tend to use long wavy lines, long straight lines, or cross-hatching. If my border is really wide (5" or wider) I'll try to do something special (continuous line images like some of these, for example, or some of the traditional border patterns) but generally it is just lines...


  4. #4
    Super Member QuilterMomma's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
    Eastern Washington
    Blog Entries
    Silvia, so sorry the borders stump you. To me they seem to frame what else I have done with the quilt and they eye always goes there. My decision for the borders is generally decided by the inside of the quilt and the pattern of the quilt. If they are large, the best is to do something in them and not just leave them alone with straight lines. If they are at the 6" or smaller, and if they are wavy, then simple works real well or you can do a continous feather, leaf, or cable design, even pumpkin seeds works great. Gives motion, takes up the room and adds excitement to the rest of the quilt. If the borders are a busy print, go with simple, no one is going to know the difference. I like to do a swag design as well, which can be done easily by just putting in pins where you want to come down at and then pin at the peak of the crest. Simple, easy, and not very painstaking. I hate to mark my quilts to get done, but sometimes this is best. If they are larger than the 6", you can always divide them up and do two designs, which looks cool ie 2" then 6" or 5" and 5" then quilt in two different designs. Looks really cool that way. You could do triangles that are spaced evenly, simple marking again, but then you could do off set triangles which look nice also. It has always been my experience, I like to enter quilt shows, where a border will make or break a quilt. You have done so much work already, a little more will make you happy with the end result. There are many ways to quilt your borders without doing several start and stops.
    Life is short, live it while you still can. QuilterMomma

  5. #5
    Super Member Shelbie's Avatar
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    Nov 2009
    Ontario, Canada
    I've always found quilting borders a challenge too. The one thing about quilting borders that I learned at a machine quilting course was not to try and quilt them vertically using straight lines with your walking foot as this tends to stretch them. Our instructor had us zigzagging down the length, turning the quilt around and zigzagging back up which resulted in a pleasing design of rectangles or squares depending on how far apart you had made your marking points to change direction. I haven't tried this technique on plain fabric but it worked well for my brightly coloured ones.
    Shelbie from the High County in Southern Ontario

  6. #6
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Rapid City, SD
    Ah - it is that vision thing again - I'm hoping that can be a learned trait as I don't have it either!

  7. #7
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    The last border I quilted was a beautiful batik with flowers. I used the flowers as a quilting design, out-lining them. I love how that one turned out! Not always so lucky and have to wait for inspiration once the main part is completed.

  8. #8
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Southwest Kansas
    Since my borders are generally floral prints and quilting doesn't really show up all that much I do bead board. It's two lines close together and then 3 to 3.5 inches between. It is a whole lot of starts though. I wait until I have all of the bead board done and then work the thread ends back in and sew over them when I quilt the last border in the ditch.

  9. #9
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Go to a longarm panto website....there are a few out there...and look at some of the continuous patterns available for various size borders....there is a yellow paper sold by some of these sites, on which you can draw a continuous design,pin or spray baste onto fab and then sew on drawn lines, then pull off paper design. I also have heard some use the cling plastic wrap w/design drawn on it and used as guide.......just some other options, and I'm sure there are more out there

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