Basic Tips #3 – Border Selection and ‘Push Through’
I follow a quilt blog called A Quilting Life by Sherri. She has many great tutorials, tips, and general quilting information. She is also a published author and has her own fabric line! She has inspired me to in so many ways, and here are two worth mentioning that struck me recently.
Sherri just wrote a post all about her technique and suggestions for adding borders to a quilt top, and you can find her article here:
Her suggestions are spot on and very helpful, and most of them I do myself. Nothing can spoil a lovely quilt top more quickly than a poorly added border. If you take nothing else from her suggestions, the measure in three places and then cut the average length suggestion is priceless. It is so easy to stretch your quilt top out of shape when adding the border! If you have the fabric cut to a specific length, it is simple to ease in any extra fabric throughout the whole distance or stretch the quilt top a slight bit to meet the needed length. Of course, pins are a necessity but do not forget to remove them rather than stitching over them!
I like to think of the border of a quilt as being very similar to a picture mat and frame. Perhaps because our cross stitch shop also did framing, we have more practice and training in having that ‘eye’. Our rule of thumb for picture framing was to select the third color you saw or focused on when you looked at your piece. I think that same theory might work sometimes in quilting. We all have a ‘picture’ in our head of what we want the finished piece to look like – and sometimes that even comes to fruition.
I find that we often – read almost ALL of the time – go for a darker border on baby quilts. We cannot bring ourselves to put a white or off-white colored fabric as a border knowing that a baby or small child will carrying around the quilt hopefully for years. Detergent can clean a lot of dirt out of clothing but why set the quilt up for failure right away – that’s our thought anyway. I think I’ve mentioned that I try to select a complimentary fabric from the same line, or one of the fabrics from the design. We use the same theory for the binding, although a scrap-busting piece always looks cute (or stripes appeal to me as well).
Another suggestion from Sherri in her post about notions and favorite fabrics, found here
was to a keep some pieces of a project near the sewing machine as a “leaders and enders” project. The idea of having push-through or starter pieces of a block when working on a line of chained pieces for our main project is a painless way of getting piecing done on the sly. I do this all the time as I am an iron fanatic – I probably press too much. As I finish a bit of piecing I like to have these push-through pieces to get my chain out of the sewing machine without actually having to snip the thread (and it saves thread too – all six inches of it – HA!). It doesn’t work all the time, and I used to just use a scrap of fabric to start and end my sewing stint but then I wised up.
What about you? How do you select your border fabric(s)? Are you a chain-piecing fan?