Adding Perfect borders to your quilt top

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At our Longarm service we often see quilt tops arriving with borders that are sewn on too wavy. Here are some tips to sew the perfect borders onto your quilt top.

Quick tips for sewing on the borders

Borders should be in proportion to the size of the finished quilt. As a general rule of thumb, a small wall hanging should have a border of less than 6 inch (15cm) while a Kingsize quilt can handle a 12 inch (30cm) to 14 inch (35cm) wide border. Borders that are too wide diminish the quilt center design. To decide how wide to make a border, begin with your finished block size. If your quilt center is made of 4 inch blocks, try a 4 inch-wide border.

If you want to change the size of a quilt, avoid adjusting the border only. Unless the change is minimal, widening just the border can make the quilt look out of proportion. Instead, consider adding sashing, pieded borders, or multple borders to enlarge the finished quilt.  It's always a good idea to wait to cut the borders until the top is finished. Any variations in seam allowance can change the size of the finished top so if you just cut them the size the pattern specifies, your border may be too short or long.

To perfectly fit your borders, first measure the width of your quilt in the center from left to right. Then on the top and the bottom. Hopefully that number is the same, but if not, take the average and cut your border to that size. Then match up the ends and center point of your border and your top and pin in place. You can do this by folding the border strip in half an finger-pressing to find the center and doing the same with the quilt top; then align those marks. If the border is slightly larger or smaller than your top, you can ease in a little bit of difference by puttin the longer edge facing down toward the machine. The machine's feed dogs will pull the longer section through the machine slightly faster than the top to even out small variations in size.
Measure the length from the quilt top through the center from top to bottom and measure both sides. Repeat the above steps to sew the border to the sides of the quilt top.

Sew with your quilt top facing up if possible. Since you'll see the seams of the quilt top while sewing the border on, you can make sure no seams get twisted as you sew and cause unneccessary bulk while quilting.
To prevent wavy borders, make sure you're pinning your borders on. Quilt tops are heavy and can pull or drag while sewing borders on, which can cause uneven seams. If you're pinning and stopping with your needle down to adjust as needed, you'll keep a consistent 1/4 inch seam the whole way.

Borders help frame your central quilt design and can also make the quilt larger. Add one (or more) border beautifully by following these tips.