As a longarm quilter, borders are the most common mistake I encounter.

In theory, it should be easy to cut a straight piece of fabric and just sew it to another – Right? WRONG! Its not. The implications for doing this is usually there is far too much border fabric on the quilt. The longarm accentuates this and the results can be catastrophic.


When this fluting occurs our first option is to starch and zap with a hot iron, trying to shrink out the fullness.

If this does not work then we try to even out the fullness and hide in the quilting.

If there is too much for this, we add weights – usually cans of soup (unopened of course!) to the area again trying to distribute the fullness.

This can result in will be puckers and perhaps small tucks around the area and when all else fails we have no other option but to make a pleat.

Occasionally there is too little fabric in the borders –

This can be so easily avoided by following these steps.

1) Layout your quilt top on a flat area.

2) Measure three times across, once near the middle, and once towards each end.

3) You now have three measurements. Lets say these are 61, 60 & 62. You need to cut your border strips at the average of these three measurements. So in this example I would cut my strips at 61.

4) Next fold the strips in half and mark the half way point with a pin.

5) Fold each side of the halves into half and mark the ¼ and ¾ points with a pin.

6) Do the same with the quilt top marking these points.

7) Match the marked border points to the corresponding marked points on the top & pin together and then pin each end too.

8) Make the border fit the quilt top by either easing or slightly stretching as you sew.

9) When both these borders have been added, press and repeat the whole process for the other 2 sides.

If you are adding more borders – just repeat for each one.

The result will be a totally ‘square’ quilt with the right amount of fabric in the borders.

Whilst talking about borders – it is also worth mentioning that in general, a wider border is more flattering for a quilt than a narrow one.

The other advantage is, that, we all know that fabric moves. When the quilt comes off the longarm, if a wider border (say 4 inch plus) has been used, the quilt can be cut down so that it is totally ‘square’ – with 90 degree corners. The eye will not see a few extra millimeters in certain areas. A narrow border has to be cut down to the fabric whether this is ‘square’ of not as the eye will certainly see if more has been taken away.