LaRueSews-Quilts - Borders, Square, Miters, and Fabrics

On this sunny, beautiful,  but cold day in Alabama, here’s wishing you a March that goes out like a Lamb.  Since much of the USA saw a snowy and cold first day of March, It must have come in like a Lion, so it should go out like a Lamb.  To all of you in the southern hemisphere, there may be some kind of weather prediction for the month of March.  Down there, I guess you are going into fall and the temperatures are getting a bit lower as the days go by.

First off.  I have a little something to Gripe about, and a little advice to go with it.  Recently, I received an email with what “appeared” to be a good discount on my choice of a product from a web site that I have used only once before.  When I finished my browsing, I settled on a ME book that looked like it would give me new ideas on things I might like to add decorative stitching to.  When the book arrived, I was profoundly disappointed.  It wasn’t even worth the cost of the postage I paid, not to mention the high price, even after the discount.  After the disappointment waned, along came the frustration and then the anger.  Just because you get a 25% discount, it doesn’t instantly become a bargain.  I often use the web sites that I know will let me look through a few of the pages before I hit the checkout button.  Well, this site didn’t give me that option, and I yielded to the 25% sign that flashed through my brain.  I guess it was my fault, but it sure felt like someone was out to get me that day.  I Should have returned it.  But with the high cost of postage, I decided not to.  Now, I’ll just curb my frustration to all of you by giving this little bit of advice . . . Don’t let the 25% sign cause you the dreaded Brain Freeze.  Yield, instead, to your common sense that tells you to hit that delete button and forget that 25% off.  You’ll be $$$ ahead.  (Hmmm, that sounded a little like the musings of our dear Ann, of ATG fame.)Big Smile

Now, back to quilting. Have you finished squaring up those quilt blocks, just in time to put them all together for the border?  Someone asked a while back for me to talk about the size that borders should be.  As far as I know, there are no rules as to the size of borders, added to your quilt.  I, for one, am a fancier of no borders at all.  I love the look of a quilt that looks totally finished with only blocks.  However, I have done them both ways.  My particular preference is a small inner border with two larger borders.  For instance, I like the first one to be 1" to 1 1/2", cut size 1 1/2" to 2".  Then make the second border 2" to 2 ½". Cut size 2 ½" to 3".  The third would be one inch larger, cut and finished size than the second border.  Now, this is just my preference.  I have seen them done many ways.  It just depends on the nature of the quilt, the color combination, etc.  If you are making a quilt with all coordinating fabrics, be sure that you purchase enough fabric in the beginning for the borders to match the fabrics used in the quilt.

These are photos of several kinds of borders:

quilt 1

Quilt 2

There are many kinds and styles of borders.  Sometimes, adding a really nice border can make the difference between an average but nice quilt into a really great quilt.  Whether your border is pieced, appliqued, mitered or just a straight border, it can give new personality to your quilt.  Books have been written on borders alone.  There are many ideas about quilts on the internet.   Two web sites that give good quilting ideas are and Do a search for quilts when you get there.  These are two links specifically about borders.

One of the borders should be made of your focus fabric, usually a large print for the widest border.  If you are making a scrappy quilt, you can use any fabric that goes well with the scrappiness of the quilt itself.  But it’s a good idea to look at the entire quilt to see if there is a dominant color.  If so, you might make a border of that dominant color with other borders of fabrics that coordinate.

I prefer print fabrics for borders on most quilts.  The only times that I have used solid fabrics, it just seemed like something was missing.  Printed fabrics just seem to have a “go-together” feeling to me.  But I prefer quilts that don’t have a lot of solid fabrics, so I guess that goes for borders too.  The red and blue quilt below has solid navy blue block sashing that appears to be part of the border because it joins with the borders.

Since I haven’t read any specific rules about choosing borders, I can only tell you what I personally like, and what I’ve seen that is pleasing to my eye.  For instance, I mentioned scrappy quilts.  I really prefer scrappy quilts with no borders.  I guess it’s because scrappy quilts come from scraps and usually, scraps aren’t big enough for borders.  So, it follows, that if you have borders on scrappy quilts, you must have gone out and purchased fabrics just for borders.

The only thing that I would consider to be a rule when adding borders is  Plan Ahead.  Know ahead of time what you want to do before you start cutting border fabric.  Measure your quilt carefully.  Now that doesn’t mean measure along each side and each end.  Those measurements may not be exact.  Measure your quilt six times.  (This is my rule, that I use for myself, I heard it somewhere) Measure once across the center width of the quilt.  Then measure twice more, once midway above the center, and once midway below the center.  Now average those three measurements.  That is the width measurement for your border.  Next, measure the length three times.  Once at the center length and once to each side of center.  Then do the same as you did for the width.  Using those two numbers, cut your borders, two for the sides and two for the top and bottom.  Use the directions on the websites for sewing the borders to the quilt.  More quilt border photos:

quilt 3

quilt 4

There are many kinds of borders to choose from. These basic borders are a place to start.  Check out some good quilting books or classes to go on from here. You need to decide whether you want to make borders with squared corners or borders with squared corners, and corner squares, and the third choice is mitered corners.  Squared corners are easier to do, but let your preference and ability guide you.  Sometimes the style of the quilt dictates the kind of border you need.  The square corners is a bit less formal to me than the squared corners.  But If you are making blocks that have a square look to them, like a log cabin, the square corners might be the better choice.

I tried out my computer drawing skills to make these drawings of  borders.  But unfortunately, they wouldn't copy into the blog, so I give credit to dummies. com for the illustrations.  The last one is a quilt that has cornerstones or corner blocks on the squared borders.

 border1border 2border 3

I have tried with little success, to think of a way to tell you about the mechanics of actually sewing mitered corners.  Since it is more challenging to me to write about it, I think it’s best to let you find your own way. Click here for a Google search for adding borders.

I feel like I have left out a lot on the subject of borders.  There are some things that just don't lend themselves to words as well as they do to illustration.  That is the reason that I have links for you to use to fill in the spaces.  I hope you are having as much fun with quilting as I do.  There is a lot of enjoyment and personal pleasure in making items that will endue for years to come.

Stitches to you,


Comments (16) -

LaRue-I so understand about the 'discount' you got from another site.  You always need to be sure that the the prize is worth the money.

For anyone who is not already a member of Ann's Club, I placed a Forum Post in Today's Top Tips on what you can get as a member.  I know the quality of a good buy!



Thanks for being the first again.  Sometimes I don't get to the blogs until the middle of the week.  

That's the first time I've really been disgusted by something I've bought on line.  It turned out to be about a twelve page book that retailed for more than some of the best quilting books I have.  We live and learn.  I have used that site before with no complaint.  

I'm off to a Sewing Expo near Atlanta tomorrow, with my quilt guild.  Will check comments again when I get back.

Stitches . .


lumcinturff 3/7/2009 8:20:10 AM

Hi LaRue,

Am new to Ann's site and just received my first newsletter.  Its been two years since I set up a sewing machine, but am preparing now to quilt a top that I finished several years ago.  One of my favorite books is "Borders, Bindings & Edges - the Art of Finishing Your Quilt" by Sally Collins.  A quick search at both and shows that this can be purchased used or new online with prices ranging from 18 - 75.00.  It is a very valuable resource.

There are also mentions of borders within several books I have used before which are not the straight and simple or run of the mill such as swags or chevron.  I was afraid at first to attempt such a thing as a swag or a chevron, but my first attempts have turned out quite professional looking, which is an amazing this for this old woman.

Thank you for your remarkably inspiring words.


beckylipchik 3/7/2009 8:25:48 AM

Hi LaRue,

Don't always trust the well-known sites, either.  I ordered what I thought was a paperback book from Amazon and when it came it was about as thick as an eyelash and the cost was what I would pay in Walmart.  I was furious and probably should have sent it back but as you said, the postage to do so would have just added to my loss.  It was called a "FastBack mystery book", which I had never heard of but after receiving it I knew!  It would take maybe 30 minutes to read the entire book.  So buyers beware, as the old saying goes!

Love your blogs, by the way!  Lots of good advice!


Thanks for the info on borders.  I used to quilt some but always had trouble with those mitered corners!! I appreciate the web sites to go to.  Since I have started embroidering I haven't done any sewing or quilting much.  When I retire I am hoping to still be able to sew,quilt, embroidery and whatever else.

I do love the blogs and appreciate all the tips.  Excellent advice.

Thank you for the tips and photo/samples.  I had a few Nativity Scenes advertised on a local 'paper' (website) and was offered what I was asking (total of $80)  plus $100 to hold them till she could get the money to me.   I told her no need for the $100 and I would handle shipping.   When I received a UPS envelope with a check for $2,850, followed by e-mail instructions saying they new the check was delivered and I should follow instructions for cashing and sending the 'extra' money to someone that would pick up my Scenes.... well my husband made some calls and the check was bad (duh) and was part of some weird scheme.  We took it to the police.  You do have to be watchful when buying or selling on the internet.  


Have read your post since the beginning. I am a fellow quilter from Kentucky. You do a really good job of walking folks through the process of quilting. Keep up the good work passing along a great craft to others.


Great information.  Thank you for taking the time to share this with us.  I have only made quilt tops and have quilted small baby quilts.   When I retire I hope to make a few quilts to use and pass down.  

Gwen Scott

There is a great website here in Queensland, Australia where they sell a great range of "marking products" including mitred corners of several shapes. They are the inventors of The Sewing Revolution tool.

The website is There is an instruction book which comes with it. The price is AUD$24.95. Hope this is of help.


My goodness, everyone ganged up on me while I was gone for the day.  I had a great time at a Quilting and Sewing Expo. in Gwinette, Ga.  We went on a bus that can carry about thirty people, but there was just twelve of us.  It made for a really fun day.  I have learned from long experience that Quilters and ME's a wonderful frineds, who care for each other just as sisters care for each other.  Maybe even more.  It is important, in life to have good friends.  But when you can combine friendship with an art such as quilting and ME, it makes the friendship even stronger.  I'd like to thank my Buddies, here in Alabama for taking me in since I moved here and made me one of their own.

Enough of the personal stuff . . . now down to business as usual.  ;o)  


Thank you for that information.  I have seen the book you mentioned, but I don't own it.  It's too bad that really good books have to go out of print, and make it difficult for us to share the information about them.

Thank you, also for the compliment.  It is surely appreciated.


Thank you for your comments.  It's too bad that we all have to learn by experience, but that's the way life is, I guess.   Life has it's bumps.  If the bumps aren't bigger than this, I guess we're good.


I have become quite adept at using google since I began writing this blog.  It's amazing how much we can find when we just move a few little words around in a little box.  The two web sites I mentioned are a couple of the best for quilting instructions, and they are not quilt sites, as such.  A little inginuity goes a long way.


I can't top your experience with a web site.  Thankfully, I haven't had any serious problems.  The things I've had have just been agravations.  You and DH did the right thing.


Thanks for sticking with me.  I have thought about the time it takes to write these blogs, and wonder if it's worth it, and then I get comments like yours and the others who have commented here.  It certainly is gratifying to read the things that all of you say.  Thank you.


Thank you for writing.  Keep up with making those tops.  It inspires me to know that so many people keep up with their sewing as well as working.  I'm sure you'll enjoy it even more after retirement.


I'll have to check out that web site.  Thank you for telling us about it.  There's a chance that the Sewing Revolution tool is sold here in the US as well.  I'll have to check it out.  I am guessing that postage might make it a little pricey, otherwise.

Thank you all for reading LaRueSews-quilts and commenting.  Your comments are so helpfull to all who read it.  Without your comments, the other "half of this blog would not be here.  Keep them coming.

Stitches to you,



Good usual! I totally understand about telling someone vs. showing them how to do mitred corners! Telling us how to do it would be really difficult & I, for one, am a visual person anyway.

I googled "sewing revolution tool" & found it for sale on E-Bay. I then went to the AU site that Fayette posted & it looks like the same thing.

Thanks for the web links & photos! The 1st quilt is my favorite.... love the border on it! The rest are all very nice & good examples of different borders. It looks like borders are only limited to your imagination!


Thank you, Rosie for returning.  I love reading all of the messages, especially those of you who have stayed with me.

The first quilt in this blog was the result of a quilt retreat weekend.  It was a mystery quilt that about fifteen of us made together.  I wish I had pictures of some of them. they were all so different.  I've always liked it, and it hangs in my guest room

I checked out the Sewing Revolution Tool also, and found it on eBay as well as at least one other US quilting site.  It looks like it would be great for making scalloped edges on borders.  There was also a tool that looks like it would be a good help for mitering corners.

See you next time,


I have just rung the people from Sewing Revolution ,  (it's only a local call for me) they have a warehouse in Chicago. You can order the Double Mitre Ruler on their Australian website, they send the paperwork to Chicago and it is shipped to you from there at your normal postage rate in the US. It is really easy to use, it only has 10 pages make sure you specify that you need the booklet. The actual Sewing Revolution tool is

for perfect placement of designs on quilts, garments etc.



Thank you very much for the info.  Since I dodn't miter as well as I'd like, I'll have to check it out, AFTER I go to the ATG conference in Orlando.  ;o}  First things first, ya know.


The mitre tool not only does normal 45 degree angles but also hexagon and octagon. I am not a quilter, but would imagine this would be very helpful to all you very talented  superstars who are.  Have a great time all of you at the ATG conference. When you are on that website check out the book Infinity Quilt.



Thanks again for you input.  We all appreciate any useful tips that member give


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