Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Simple Patchwork Border

Anyone who works on a quilt, who devotes her time, energy, creativity, and passion to that art, learns to value the work of her hands.  And as any quilter will tell you, a quilter's quilting friends are some of the dearest, most generous, and most supportive people she knows.  
Jennifer Chiaverini

Adding a pieced border to any quilting project always sets it off and shows that you put more effort and thought into your project.  This is a simple but stunning way to make a pieced border.  There are a number of ways to create one like this. You can make them with quarter square triangles on the outer edges so that they will be on grain, but for this project I just went with simple strip construction.  The only down side to doing it this way is that you end up with bias along the edge of the border but I will give a few hints on how to deal with that.  

Note:  These instructions were written for the Hexagonal Tree Skirt in my Christmas in July Post.  This border could be added to any quilt project but you probably would be working with 4 sides not 6 so adjust the number of strips accordingly.

I decided that I wanted the squares on point and that I didn't want them to touch the edges of the strips or wedges.  That way the squares would not be chopped up when the wedges were joined together and the squares would be floating on the background in each section.

Here is what I used for the pieced border unit:

2 - 2 1/2" strips of green
2 - 2 1/2" strips of red
4 - 3 1/2" strips of white
6 - 8 1/2" squares cut diagonally for 12 half square triangles

12 - 2 1/2" strips of green for the edges of the pieced border unit

You can change any of these measurements just keep the background strips 1" larger if you want the squares to float.  If you want the points of the squares to touch the edging strips the background strip only has to be 1/2" larger than the strip for the center squares.

The size of the squares for the half square triangle is determined by the width of the strip set when it is sewn together.  2" + 3 1/4" + 3 1/4" = 8 1/2"  This makes the triangles over-sized for the ends which is what you want to be able to cut the angle of the wedge easily.

Construction is easy.

Tip:  It's a good idea to spray starch these sets while pressing them.  
This will help keep the bias from stretching.

Time Saving Tip:  Layer the units and cut all four at once.  This is a big time saver and works great!  Just lay the strip sets down along one of the horizontal lines on the cutting mat.  Each one is layered a little lower than the one under it so the seams don't overlap.

You don't have to alternate two colors like I did.  You can use more colors or all one color.  Sew units together off-setting the center squares.

How many to sew together?  Depends on how you want it to look.  You can lay it out below the center wedge as you sew it and see if it is as big as you need.  You can do the math.  Multiply the finished size of the square by 1.41.  Mine were 2" finished so 2 x 1.41 = 2.82

Now add the large triangles to each end of the unit.  Attach them with the bias edge of the triangle being the one sewn on.  Since they are slightly over sized sew them on so that you are getting the maximum width possible if you will be cutting an angle like I did for this project. 

To stabilize the bias edge you will have decide where you want to trim the edge.  I left an inch of background on each side.  Using a marking pencil draw a faint line where you will be cutting.

Tip:  I measured from the tip of the squares.  You could also measure from the center line of the squares where they touch tips.  That way you could cut the width of the border unit to be an even 1/4" or 1/2" measurement.  Mine turned out about 4 5/8".  In this project it didn't matter but on a quilt border the math for additional borders would be easier without figuring in 1/8" inches.  ;-)

Tip:  When marking lines for reference in piecing or quilting only make the marks as dark as you need to see them.  The lighter they are the easier they are to get rid of.  In this case they are in the seam allowance and should not be a problem.

Stitch about 1/16" or 1/8" inside this line with a long stitch (4.0) or 6 stitches per inch.  Use a walking foot if your machine wants to gather up the fabric while doing this.  The fabric should remain flat or easily press flat after stitching.

Note:  If you want to add this in the middle of a quilt border and need longer ends just cut a background strip the same width as the pieced unit.  Trim the pieced section as shown below first.  Cut a 45 degree angle at the end of the background strip where you will join it making sure it points in the right direction and attach.  Measure the total length needed for your project and trim ends to size.

Press unit flat and trim to size along the line drawn previously.  Attach the plain strips to each side of the pieced unit before adding it to your project.  Match the centers and pin in place.  Sew with the bias edge of the pieced unit down against the feed dogs.  Do not trim until after it is attached to the wedge, then trim at the 60 degree angle as shown in the previous post.

That's all you need to do for the pieced border.  Do you think you will add one to something you will make?  I'd love to see it if you do.


  1. Very nice pieced border. I have made this type of border before for a quilt, but had not used this for triangular blocks like the ones for this tree skirt. Yes, I may make this border for a future project. Thanks for the tutorial ... :) Pat

  2. This is one of my favorite border looks. You have done a great job of breaking it down! Thank you!
    Julie @ The Crafty Quilter

  3. What a great tutorial Patricia and I agree that a border adds so much to a quilt! Thanks for sharing.
    Freemotion by the River Linky Party Tuesday


I really love to read your comments and get feedback on my ideas!
Please let me know what you think about my posts and projects.
I will respond to your messages as soon as I can.

Follow on Bloglovin
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...