Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tip Tuesday - Mitered Borders (A Day Late and a Dollar Short)

Since I've been back from Tennessee, I've not been feeling well and my days are totally confused. Needless to say, I completely forgot to post my Tip Tuesday! yesterday and rather than completely skip it, I decided to post it a day late. 

Tip Tuesday! - Mitered Borders 

Welcome to
"Tip Tuesday!"

I love learning new things and then sharing that knowledge with my quilting friends. So, every Tuesday I'll provide some tips, hints, tricks, tutorials, shortcuts, etc. that I've learned over the years and share them here on the blog. 

"Tip Tuesday" will be a collection of information about a wide variety of subjects garnered from a large variety of sources.  I am not an expert by any means and do not take credit for being the great wizard behind all of these hints and tips. I will gladly give credit where credit is due whenever possible.
These tips will be archived and accessible to you just by clicking on the "Tip Tuesday" tab above. 

Read, enjoy, and be inspired! 

I have learned to love stripes and not be afraid to use them. I especially like using stripes for borders and in order to "have it work," the corners need to be mitered. I used to be afraid of mitering borders, but no more! I love the look created when a stripe wraps around a quilt top or a floral fabric gracefully flows around the corners of a quilt. I hope my explanation is helpful and you find that you enjoy mitering corners as much as I do. 


Mitered Borders
The seam of a mitered corner is more subtle than that of a square corner or one with cornerstones, so it seems to “flow” better around the quilt top. In the case of using striped fabric for your border(s), mitered corners create the illusion of a continuous line around the quilt or form radiating lines that flow from the center of the quilt, depending on the direction you choose to cut the striped fabric.
Completing a mitered border corner complements the overall design of the quilt and can help solve a number of design “issues.” Mitered corners are ideal for striped borders, floral borders, pieced borders or even multiple plain borders. No matter what type of border fabric you are using, sew multiple borders together first and treat the resulting unit as a single border for mitering.
Stripes Options
            1. Radiating Away From Quilt Center
2. Framing or Continuous Lines Around Quilt
How the stripe is on the fabric will also determine how much you will need. The maximum length of strip for #2 is whatever the width of the fabric is, approximately 40” – 44”, or it will need to be pieced.
For borders that create framing or continuous lines around a quilt, you will need the fabric to be at least the size of the length strips calculated below, or pieced to be that length.
Step 1 – Measure Quilt Top to Determine Border Lengths

(You will measure the quilt in both directions through the quilt center to calculate a “base” measurement for each border.) 
Measure your quilt from top to bottom through the middle of the quilt. This will give you the length of your quilt.
Measure across the middle, from side to side to get the width of you quilt.
Step 2 – Determining the Cut Length of the Border Strips
When you are sewing the border strips on for a mitered corner, you must add extra length for the miter. Use the following formulas to determine the length of border strips needed for all sides of the quilt.
Side Border Strips:
            Quilt Length Before Borders  +  twice the border width +  2”
Top and Bottom Borders Strips:
            Quilt Width Before Borders  +  twice the border width  + 2”
Here’s an example:  Your quilt top measures 48” x 64” before borders, and your borders total is 9.5” (border 1 = 2.5”and border 2 = 7”)

Side Borders Strips:  64  +  9.5  +  9.5  +  2  =  85”  Cut 2 this length***
Top and Bottom Border Strips:  48  +  9.5  +  9.5  +  2  = 69”  Cut 2 this length***
***You may have to piece these strips to get the required length.***
Step 3 – Center and Pin Border Strips in Place
When centering and pinning border strips in place, fold the quilt top in half and place a pin at the center of the quilt side. Fold and pin the center of the border also. With right sides facing and raw edges aligned, match the pins on the border to the quilt. Working from the center out, pin the border strip to the quilt top. The border will extend beyond the quilt top edges. Do not trim this overhang. This overhang is equal to what was “allowed” for the miter.
Step 4 – Sew the Border Strips in Place
Sew the border to the quilt. Start and end seams ¼” from the raw edges. Backstitch to secure. Press the seam allowance towards the quilt top, away from the border.

(picture from
Join the remaining borders in the same manner. Pin the previously sewn borders out of the way, if necessary.
Step 5 – Making the Mitered Corners
With right sides facing, fold the quilt diagonally, aligning the raw edges of the adjacent border. Pin securely. Align a ruler along the diagonal fold. Holding the ruler firmly and using the 45° angle line, mark a line from the end of the border seam to the raw edge. This will be your stitching line.
Step 4 Diagram


(picture from
Start machine stitching at the beginning of the marked line close to the quilt top. Backstitch and sew out to the raw edge. Backstitch at the raw edge as well. Be sure to start the line exactly at the spot where the border stitching finished. Otherwise you will end up with a pleat. Stitch directly on the pencil line, being careful to not stitch into the seam allowance or the body of the quilt.
Repeat the process to miter the remaining corners.
Step 6 – Check for Accuracy
After you have stitched the corner seam, unfold the quilt and check to see that the corner lies flat. With quilt right side up, align the 45° angle line of square ruler on the seam line to check for accuracy. Correct any stitching if necessary. If corner is flat and square, trim seam allowance to ¼”. Press the corner seams open.

1 comment:

Chris Henson said...

What a wonderful tip/tutorial on mitered corners! How did you know that's on my 'list' for this year? Also, my jaw is still kinda sore from dropping when I viewed your red and white quilt top. Then it dropped again when I saw Kare's! What talented women! Feel better soon my friend.