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. 🙂
Tags: lessons learned, make extraordinary scrap quilts, quilt borders, scrap quilts, spiderweb blocks, trunk shows
It is what I would call a good example of a bad example. When I was teaching I’d include such things so that my students could actually see a bad example because it was hard for them to imagine how things could go wrong.
I agree with you. It does outshine the center, but at this point? Well, not many options. I, too , wouldn’t cu t off the beautiful quilting. Live, learn and go on. ; – )
What’s so interesting is: I love your quilt the way it is. I love it so much. I love the incredible border. It’s special. I found your page because I was looking for fabulous borders on google. So, I respectfully disagree with your assessment about the border, because I 100% love it. 🙂
Well gosh, thank you very much! It was really nice of you to reach out with such kind words. You made my day!
Thank you a thousand times over: you have saved me from making a glaring mistake! I need a 12″ wide border and with your examples in mind, make an 8″ strip in a blending plain or almost plain with 4″ colourful scraps’ strip on outside!!! Will send you photo with final result. Patricia
I’m so glad to hear it! Can’t wait to see your result. Thank you for reaching out!
I love, love, the quilt all the way around!! From colors to patterns. Thankyou for making such an amazing quilt. I’m in a quilt block group, n I was looking for ideas. Thankyou again for sharing your talents.