How to sew borders on quilts: free how-to download

How to quilt: borders

Some of my quilting friends think I’m a little odd because I love to put the binding on a quilt but absolutely HATE adding the borders. Isn’t that a little backward, they’ll ask? I’ll even offer to trade—I’ll sew the binding on someone’s quilt, including the hand stitching, if they’ll do my borders.  Maybe you think I’m crazy too. Or maybe you’ve struggled with some of the same issues I have (wavy edges, anyone?) and understand completely how I feel.

From American Jane's Quilts for All Seasons
Multiple strips, scrappy piecing, AND miters in the borders! Yes, you can do it all with our border how-to help. (“Star Diamond” quilt pattern from American Jane’s Quilts for All Seasons.)

To be honest, I’m not quite as averse to quilt borders as I used to be; after all, I’ve been in this business a long time now, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. For example, I no longer struggle with borders that don’t fit because I’ve learned how to measure and cut accurately.

How to sew borders on quiltsDo you have border issues? Would you like to learn from an expert how to sew a border on a quilt? We can help! Our free eBooklet download How to Sew Borders on Quilts guides you step-by-step through the process of measuring, cutting, and sewing a variety of border styles. You’ll find tips on working with plain borders, borders with corner squares, multiple borders—even mitered borders, which add such a beautiful finish but seem so difficult to achieve. But guess what: with the right instructions, they’re really not!

Here’s one great tip from the eBooklet:

If you’re using a directional print, you may want to cut the borders so that the print faces one direction in the side borders and the other direction in the top and bottom borders. That can take a lot of fabric, but it might be worth it! Look at what a difference the direction of the border print makes.

Using directional prints in quilt borders

I still dislike the wrestling match that ensues when I attempt to sew a border on a queen-size quilt. But at least I know that when I finally get it on, it will be just right. Download How to Sew Borders on Quilts and you’ll have perfect borders too!

Got a quilt that needs a special border? Find creative border ideas in these books from Martingale:

The Border Workbook Blocks, Borders, Quilts! Just around the Corner

Are you a border woman or a binding woman? Tell us in the comments!

Select eBooks only $6 each this week

18 Comments (leave a comment)

  • I am neither, I love piecing the quilt tops but when it comes to finishing I get stalled. I do however love a finished quilt. but I would prefer is some one else to finish it.

    —Patricia D. Roberts on October 14, 2014
  • I like neither really, but I love the pieced border, that is when you really have to have the 1/4″ and the right size to make it all work. Measure, measure is the key.

    —Linda Christianson on October 14, 2014
  • Binding is not an issue any more. Borders are a problem if I don’t take my time.

    —Mike Glahn on October 14, 2014
  • I’m a "Twofer" when it comes to borders and bindings. I love choosing the border to set off my work, the right color makes such a difference. The binding is my way of adding the handwork to the quilt. The hand sewing of the binding is calming and adds a touch of me to the quilt. I’ve tried doing the binding with the machine and it has failed every time, or I’m just not happy with the results. So for now, I’ll stick to hand sewing after attaching the binding to the front of the quilt. As for the borders, my husband is a whiz at picking just the right color to set off the blocks. There isn’t one thing I can think of that I don’t like about quilting.

    —Betty Grove on October 14, 2014
  • I am neither a binding woman or a border woman because I am a male quilter. Although I have made many quilts, mostly for kids or lap quilts, I have made a few queen size quilts. I would probably say that my skill level is equal between border and bindings. Today I am extremely happy because I just received "Happy Endings" in the mail, all about bindings for your quilts.

    Hi Jackson: I’m wiping egg off my face as I write this. I can’t believe I made the mistake of calling all our readers women, especially since my own husband is a quilter! You were right to call me on it and I apologize.

    Enjoy your new copy of Happy Endings. It’s one of my favorite and most-often used books. –Mary

    Jackson Watkins on October 14, 2014
  • I love borders, and patchwork borders especially.

    —Lynne on October 14, 2014
  • HI, I hate to do my bindings and I snoop at everyone else’s and it’s not always a pretty sight—borders I just deal with, the simple kind and I have not done anything larger than 70×70, so still a work in progress. However bindings are a "screamer" for me. Thanks -I’ve downloaded the "Borders" how-to.

    —Carol on October 14, 2014
  • I love sewing bindings on so much I’m toying with the idea of starting a little business ;-D
    I currently swap pinning a quilt for binding a quilt with my friend. It works really well, until she goes on holidays, LOL!

    —Kayt Deans on October 14, 2014
  • Thanks for the border instructions. I have only used binding so it’s time overdue for me to learn how to do a real border!

    —Lorinda on October 15, 2014
  • Guess that I would be best described as a "border babe" 🙂 I sew the binding as a straight forward process that requires care and precision. The borders offer one an opportunity to do something creative and interesting. Different borders can completely change the look of a quilt as well as its final size. Plain, pieced, appliqued –the possibilities and combinations are endless. Will I use the border to bring out a color in the quilt or to add a new highlight? Borders offer so many opportunities; bindings offer so little in comparison.

    —Kate on October 15, 2014
  • I am neither a ‘border woman’ or a ‘binding woman’, but, rather, a
    ‘border man.’ I’d rather cut and sew borders onto fifty quilts than sew binding onto one. Double borders, triple borders, borders with cornerstones, etc. are no problem at all, but hand sewing a binding to
    the back of a quilt is, at least for me, the least favorite and most tedious part of the whole quilt making process.

    Bill, please see Mary’s response to Jackson’s comment above; we’re sorry to have neglected all the wonderful male quilters out there! Thanks for your comment. –Jenny

    —Bill Greenwood on October 15, 2014
  • Borders have been my nemesis from the beginning, and continue to prey on me every time. I particularly like sewing on the binding… is a very relaxing effort for me, and I know when I am finished I will have another wonderful quilt!
    Thank you for the download.

    —Mary Chasey on October 17, 2014
  • Borders are my least favorite part of quilting. I don’t mind the bindings at all but always worry that my borders are stretching . I need to do more accurate measuring and not rush through sewing the border strips on. I usually have few noticeable errors but can always improve. Thanks for the opportunity to learn more.

    —sharon on October 17, 2014
  • I love binding because I sew on my binding to the back, and then machine sew on the front. With enough practice I can have the stitch line fall either on or off the binding on the back depending on what I want. Borders on the other hand are a pain. I can make sure they are straight but I don’t like cutting, pinning or ironing big unwieldy pieces of fabric.

    —Linda on October 17, 2014
  • My most favourite part of quilting , is hand sewing on the binding !I love picking out just the right binding , especially using strips on the diagonal .It just looks like you have fussed . Then the hand stitching is very relaxing and its close to my quilt being completed.
    The borders, im still learning how to set off my quilt , to make it pop if need be or just to blend in nicely. I love every aspect of quilting . Thanks for the free download !

    —linda on October 18, 2014
  • I have the The Border Workbook hard copy book and in my early beginings of quilting, I LOVED adding borders, but here lately, I prefer to eliminate them and go straight to the binding. I pre-make my bindings so after my quilt is quilted, I’m ready to add my binding and start hand stitching it down. I know 99.9%(no one is perfect) of the make it a great border tricks and on rare occasions, I "might" add a finished half inch border. My pencil 3 ring notebook holder kit (scissors, pins or clips, and extra needles) for ALL my bindings, is always ready and all I have to do is exchange the color of my thread spool. I take my tacking down the binding project every where I go until its finished. Stuck in traffic-add a few stitches; waiting for my doctor’s appointment, stitch; and on one occasion, I was so wrapped up in my stitching, my Cardiologist walked in and took my quilt away from me and gently laid it on a chair. After my examination was over; he said, now let’s look at your quilt. Yes, he’s a recipient of a Broken Heart quilt from me for virtually saving my life.

    Keep smiling,

    Lynnita Shipman on October 19, 2014
  • I have been having a problem with my outside borders stretching with I put them on the long arm frame and cannot figure out why. Is there something that I’m doing wrong? Please HELP!

    —Carolyn Ferrell on October 28, 2014
  • I’ve done both. I really like the adding borders, then as a last one, I use a 2 1/2″ binding… it seams it’s always a bear though to get those perfect mitered corners…but with patience I get it done.

    —Jeanette on November 21, 2014

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