Sunday, 26 May 2013

How to be a better quilter

I am a self taught quilter.  I was initially shown some basics by a friend, I read books, mags, patterns etc, and really just learnt from my mistakes.  But there was something I did not really know until a few years ago.  Probably due to purchasing myself a quilting frame and quilting my own quilts.  We are talking borders.  I have found that there are ALOT of people who do not know this info, so I thought I would share here. 

Being a long arm quilter now, I find that quite often I get quilts with wavy/puckery borders.  A quilt may sit flat on the machine, but the borders are baggy.  Sometimes you cant really tell until its on the machine, and usually get a row or two done.  Did you know that when sewing 2 fabrics together, the bottom one moves slower than the top (meaning there is more fabric in the border than the quilt top; as generally you sew the two together with the border on top)..... Alot of the time.  Some machines are quite bad for it.  There was one instance when I was quilting a quilt for a client (in the early days), on my Pinnacle where by the time I got near the bottom, the border was SO puckery I ended up having to take it off the machine, un-picked the border off and trimming to size.  I took about 3" off!   Thats alot extra in a border!
So, how do we cut borders properly?  I am glad you asked!! 
Here are some handy info:
NEVER measure the sides of the quilt for your border measurement as that is where it is bound to be distorted/stretched.
NEVER cut your border strips, sew to the quilt top then cut the excess off.  This may give you wavy borders.

It is very important that the border fabric is cut to the correct length and the border fabric is pinned and sewn evenly along the top of the quilt.

If the border is too long, then the sides of the quilt will be puckered/wavy, and if the border is too short or tight, the middle of the quilt will bubble. If the border is not sewn evenly along the centre of the quilt, it will cause waviness in some places and tightness in others.
So, how do we attach borders correctly?:

Step 1 - How to cut borders

Side borders:
Measure your quilt and at the ¼, halfway, and ¾ mark along the length of the quilt. If these measurements are not the same, work out the average by adding the three measurements together, and dividing by three..... For instance if the measurement is 60.5" middle, 60" at 1/4 mark and 60.25"  at the 3/4 mark, then your average is 60.25
Cut the border fabric to the measured length. This can be done by using a tape measure, or the lines on your cutting board.

Step 2 - Attaching the cut border to the quilt

Find the centre of the quilt top and border piece, by folding them in half, and mark with pins. (If the quilt top is large you may also need to mark the ¼ and ¾ points as well).
Pin the border at the start and middle points, then evenly along the length, say about 4" or so apart.
Carefully sew together easing any fullness carefully and evenly.
If there is excessive fullness, check all your measurements again before attaching the border

Step 3 - Attaching the width border to the quilt

Top and bottom borders:
The method is the same as the side borders.  Measure the width of the quilt at the halfway mark, 1/4 and 3/4 mark.  Find the average measurement if they are not the same and cut to length. Then follow step 2 to attach.

 I hope this info was useful to you.  Correct borders will give you a lovely flat and hopefully square quilt!

**EDIT**  I have just added this post to my left hand sidebar along with my other free tutorials (and a few cool YouTube videos) so that it is easy to find when you need it...... ***


Anonymous said...

wow thankyou Sarah i didnt know any of this,thankyou for taking the time to tell us.xx

Deb R said...

Great info Sarah! always good to have tags fully explained!

Jo in TAS said...

Thanks for the info Sarah, there's always something new to learn and hopefully if we sew our quilts right it makes the job of a longarm quilter easier!

Yvette said...

This is great information! I learned this once in a quilting class I took but I honestly haven't been following the advice. I will from now on! Thanks again for the info.

Peg - Happy In Quilting said...

Thanks Sarah...will refer to this often I think...

Noela said...

Sarah, I was shown this several years ago and never measure or put on my borders any other way. I have told several people about it but some still put on borders and cut off excess. I need to send them to your blog to read your post. It is a wonderful tip. Thanks for sharing. Hugs.....

Vicki said...

Great tips, Sarah!!

Lib said...

Thanks Sarah....but will I remember *sigh*

Anita said...

Thanks for the tips, will refer to this next time!

Bec said...

Yeaah Sarah. The more this info is out there the better the quilts. Great to see it on your side bar too.