Master the Art of Quilt Border Sewing: A Step-by-Step Guide

Quilting is a beloved and time-honored craft that has been passed down for generations. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, one essential skill to master is adding borders to your quilt. Not only do borders add a polished finish to your creation, but they also provide structural support and can even change the overall look and feel of your quilt. In this article, we will delve into the art of sewing quilt borders, providing tips and techniques that will elevate your quilts to new heights. So let’s grab our needles and thread and get ready to learn how to sew quilt borders like a pro!

Understanding the Purpose of Quilt Borders

Quilt borders are an important aspect of any quilt design, serving both functional and aesthetic purposes. In addition to framing the main body of the quilt, borders can enhance the overall look and feel of the piece, as well as add size and structure to the quilt. They also serve to protect the edges of the quilt from wear and tear.

When planning a quilt, it is important to consider the purpose and impact of adding borders. The size, style, and placement of borders can greatly affect the final appearance and function of your quilt. In this section, we will discuss various factors to consider when sewing quilt borders.

Choosing Border Width

The width of your border is an essential element in creating balanced proportions for your quilt. Borders that are too narrow may make your quilt look unfinished or crowded, while too wide borders can overpower the main design. Generally, a border should be 1/4th of the finished size of your quilt or less.

However, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to border width – it ultimately depends on personal preference and what you want to achieve with your design. For example, narrower borders can create a slimming effect on larger quilts while wider borders can add more visual interest.

Picking the Right Fabric

When selecting fabric for your borders, it is important to choose a fabric that complements or contrasts with your main design. Experienced quilters often use smaller prints or solid colors for their borders to avoid overwhelming their intricate designs.

If using patterned fabrics for your border, be mindful of how they will line up with your main body’s pattern. Plaid fabrics may look skewed when pieced together at an angle in border widths. In contrast, simple geometric patterns such as stripes or polka dots are easier to align.

Adding Interest with Borders

Quilt borders are also an excellent way to add interest and personality to your design. For those looking for a more subtle approach, incorporating different fabrics or colors within the border can create an eye-catching effect. You could also use borders as a space to showcase intricate quilting or appliqué work.

Alternatively, for a bolder look, mix and match fabrics from your main body within the borders. This adds cohesion to your design while creating visual interest and breaking up large areas of one fabric.

Paying Attention to Grain Lines

When cutting fabric for borders, it is crucial to ensure that the grain lines are aligned correctly. A quilt’s top and bottom edges should be cut parallel to the selvage edge of the fabric. Borders should then be cut perpendicular to these edges.

If your border fabric doesn’t have enough yardage for you to cut it in this manner, you can sew strips of fabric together first before attaching them as borders. This method ensures that the fabric’s grain lines will align correctly when added to the quilt.

Measuring and Piecing Border Strips

One common mistake made when sewing quilt borders is not measuring accurately or neglecting piecing techniques properly. When adding borders, it is essential to measure your quilt’s sides before cutting any fabric pieces.

After measuring each side separately, add an extra 1/4th inch seam allowance on each side and cut border strips according to these measurements. Make sure that you pin each strip into place before sewing it onto your quilt top.

Mitring Corners with Precision

Mitring corners is another critical aspect of sewing quilt borders. The goal here is for the pattern on both sides of a corner strip to meet seamlessly without disrupting its alignment with surrounding stripes.

To achieve this, make diagonal folds at each corner by aligning them on each side of the corner. When the borders are sewn together with a 1/4th inch seam allowance, these diagonal folds create a mitred corner. Be sure to press the fabric before sewing for a crisp, professional finish.

Finishing Your Borders

Once all border strips have been added, it’s time to finish your borders. To do this, fold the border strip in half with wrong sides facing each other and sew along one of its long edges. Crease this fold and iron it for a professional finish.

After attaching your borders, complete the final touches on your quilt by trimming any excess fabric and adding binding to cover the raw edges. Your quilt borders should now look neat and polished.


Sewing quilt borders is a crucial step in creating beautiful and functional quilts. From choosing fabric and measuring accurately to mitring corners and finishing touches, attention to detail is key. By following these guidelines, you can elevate your quilt designs and achieve stunning results every time. Experiment with different styles, fabrics, and widths to find what works best for your unique quilting style. With practice, you’ll become an expert in creating perfectly framed quilts that are not only eye-catching but also structurally sound

Types of Quilt Borders

When it comes to quilting, the border is what puts the finishing touch on your masterpiece. It not only adds a polished look to your quilt, but it also serves a functional purpose by keeping all the layers of fabric secure. There are several different types of quilt borders that you can choose from depending on the style of your quilt and your own personal preference.

One type of border is a plain border, which is simply a single strip of fabric that runs along the edges of your quilt. This type of border is best suited for quilts with busy patterns or ones that have intricate designs within the quilt blocks. A plain border allows for these designs to stand out without being overwhelmed by additional patterns.

If you’re looking to add some extra flair to your quilt, you may want to consider a pieced border. This involves sewing together small pieces of fabric to create a unique pattern or design around the edges of your quilt. Not only does this add an interesting element to your quilt, but it also allows you to use up any extra scrap fabric you may have lying around.

Another option is a scalloped border, which adds a soft and feminine touch to any quilt. To create a scalloped border, you will need to use bias binding (a strip of fabric cut diagonally across the grain) instead of regular binding. The scallops can be created using templates or by simply folding and cutting the bias strips into curves before attaching them to the edge of your quilt.

For those looking for a more traditional approach, a mitered border is another great option. This type of border involves creating diagonal corners at each corner edge for a clean and seamless finish. Mitered borders can be time-consuming and require some precision in sewing, but they add an elegant touch to any quilt.

Lastly, there are also flanged borders which uses two fabrics that are stitched together to create a dual border effect. The top fabric is folded back to reveal the bottom color creating a contrasting effect. This type of border adds a pop of color and interest to your quilt without overwhelming the overall design.

Materials Required for Quilt Borders

Before you start sewing your quilt borders, it’s important to gather all the necessary materials. The type and amount of fabric required will depend on the size and design of your quilt. Generally, you will need 0.5 yards of fabric for each corner and side border, plus additional fabric if you are adding in any pieced or flanged borders.

You will also need thread that matches or complements your quilt fabrics, as well as sewing pins, scissors, and a rotary cutter for precise cutting. In addition, you may want to invest in some quilting rulers and templates for creating specific borders.

If you’re planning to add scallops or mitered corners, you will also need some bias binding strips and a bias tape maker tool. And if you’re opting for a flanged border, you will need two coordinating fabrics for the top and bottom layer.

Make sure to have all these materials on hand before starting your quilt borders so that you can have a smooth and uninterrupted sewing process.

Preparation Before Adding Borders

Before adding borders to your quilt, there are a few important steps to take first. First and foremost, make sure that all your quilt blocks are sewn together securely with no loose threads or unfinished edges. This will ensure that your borders lay flat against the rest of the quilt.

Next, measure your quilt at various points along the edges to get an accurate measurement of how long each border should be. Remember to add ½ inch seam allowance on each side when cutting out your border strips.

It’s also important to press both your quilt top and backing fabrics before adding the borders. This will ensure that your quilt lays flat and there are no unsightly wrinkles or puckering.

If you’re planning to add any additional elements, such as embroidery or applique, now is the time to do so before attaching the borders. It may also be helpful to lay out all your border strips along the edges of your quilt to double-check that they are cut to the correct size before sewing them on.

Sewing Your Quilt Borders

After all the necessary preparations have been completed, it’s time to start sewing on your quilt borders. The process will vary slightly depending on the type of border you have chosen.

For plain borders, simply sew each strip onto its corresponding edge of the quilt using a ½ inch seam allowance. Press the seams towards the border and continue in this manner for each side.

To create a flanged border, sew one border fabric onto each edge with right sides facing. Then fold back and press along the seam line so that it reveals a hint of color from beneath. Assemble and attach your next layer of borders in a similar manner.

For mitered corners, sew on each side border with right sides facing until you reach the corner, leaving at least 1 inch unsewn at both edges

Q: What is the purpose of quilt borders?
A: Quilt borders serve as a frame for the quilt, providing a finished look and helping to stabilize the edges.

Q: How do I choose the right size border for my quilt?
A: The border should be proportional to the size of your quilt. The general rule is to add 1-2 inches to each side of your quilt for small quilts and up to 6 inches for larger quilts.

Q: What types of fabric should I use for my borders?
A: It is recommended to use the same fabric as your quilt top or a coordinating fabric. Avoid using flimsy or stretchy fabric as this can cause puckering or distortion when sewing on the borders.

Q: How do I measure and cut border strips?
A: To measure, lay your quilt flat and measure the length of each side. Cut border strips that match these measurements, adding an extra 1-2 inches for seam allowance. It is best to cut all border strips from one continuous piece of fabric to ensure consistency.

Q: How do I attach borders to my quilt top?
A: First, sew the border strips together at their ends using a diagonal seam. Then pin and sew the borders onto your quilt top, making sure all edges are aligned. Trim any excess fabric before pressing open the seams.

Q: What is mitered binding and how do I make it?
A: Mitered binding creates a clean finish at the corners of your quilt with no bulky overlapping layers. To make it, fold and press the corner diagonally before sewing on the binding strip. This will create a neat corner when you fold over the strip to finish sewing it onto your quilt.

In conclusion, learning how to sew quilt borders is a valuable skill for any quilter to have. It allows for endless possibilities when it comes to adding a finishing touch to your quilt projects. By following the step-by-step process and utilizing the tips and techniques discussed, you can create beautiful and well-constructed quilt borders that will enhance the overall appearance of your quilts. Remember to carefully choose your fabrics, accurately measure and cut your borders, properly stitch them on using appropriate techniques, and take extra care in pressing and finishing your borders. These key points will ensure a professional-looking border that will not only add visual interest but also increase the durability of your quilt. Additionally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different border designs and styles to make your quilt truly unique. With patience, practice, and attention to detail, you can master the art of sewing quilt borders and take your quilting projects to the next level. So go ahead, grab your fabric scissors and sewing machine, and start creating beautiful borders for all of your quilts!

Author Profile

Jill Nammar
My name is Jill but everyone calls me Jilly. I design original cross stitch patterns inspired by vintage French and flowers. Roses are my muse.
I hope you have a cozy time stitching my patterns. Put the kettle on, relax and create a heartwarming piece of hand-embroidered art. Personalize your home and turn up the soulful charm with soulful stitchery.

My goal is to provide you with pretty patterns that promote peaceful stitching. My wish is for you to discover the gentle beauty of hand-embroidery.My patterns have been featured around the web and in Homespun Magazine and Boston Magazine. I find my bliss in cross stitch.

From 2024, I have embarked on a new venture—writing an informative blog on the “Embroidery and Cross-Stitch” niche. This blog is an extension of my passion, where I share detailed posts and respond to queries related to embroidery and cross-stitching.

The blog covers a wide range of topics from beginner tips, pattern creation, historical insights, and the therapeutic benefits of stitching. My goal is to build a community where enthusiasts can learn, share, and grow in their embroidery skills, ensuring everyone can find their own bliss in cross-stitch just as I did.

Thank you to all my customers and readers who have supported Sew French. Your kind emails, photos of completed patterns, and continual encouragement fuel my dedication to this beautiful craft. Join me in stitching a world of beauty and peace, one pattern at a time.