Quilt Borders: What Not to Do
Today I’m sharing a quilt that’s a lesson in what not to do. I learned something the hard way on this quilt. I like the center part just fine, but that wide striped border? There is room for improvement.
I spent a lot of time on these scrappy string Spiderweb blocks, pulling brights from my scrap bin and not worrying too much about anything.
The black-on-white print is a nice contrast with the intensely bright prints. And these are fun to make because you know that as soon as you put four blocks together, you get this really cool effect.
Spiderwebs appear at the corners where the blocks come together! Isn’t that fun? These aren’t what you’d call fast to make, so by the time I had enough for the center, I’d invested a lot of time and energy.
Which is to say that I was pretty much over it, and off I headed to quilt retreat with the quilt center in hand and the border fabric in tow. And this is where things went off the rails.
I don’t remember auditioning the borders, but I do remember feeling ready to be finished. I was in a hurry and I wasn’t letting anything get in the way of a finished quilt top. I plunked those borders on, I mitered the corners and I moved on. Finité.
As soon as I got home, I shipped it off to a local longarm pro, and that was that.
Except that somewhere along the way, I saw a picture of the quilt online and I was flabbergasted. How did I make such a bad decision? How in the world did that overpowering border become part of my little quilt? I still can’t believe it.
The problem as I see it is that this border totally overwhelms the quilt center. I don’t think it’s necessarily the wrong fabric, but I do think it’s much too wide. Let me show you how it looks if we skinny it up.
Here I’ve cropped off just a bit of the border. Still too strong, in my opinion.
What if I crop off the entire striped border? This feels unfinished, just as it did when I was making the quilt.
Here’s what I think would have been a good solution. In the photo above, the border is about half as wide, and I think it works pretty well.
Here are the takeaways:
- Don’t rush through the final steps of quilt making. Take the time to make good decisions at every point.
- Audition on a design wall and stand way back, across the room. Don’t make decisions at arm’s length.
- You want your border to draw attention to the quilt center. You don’t want it to outshine the quilt center. I think the black and white checkerboard and the medium-wide stripes do the trick.
You may be wondering why I don’t just cut the border in half and re-bind the quilt. Well, the longarm quilter put a really beautiful design in that striped border. I can’t bring myself to cut into it.
And now I have a “what not to do” quilt to include in my trunk show “Make Extraordinary Scrap Quilts.”
Live and learn. 🙂