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Cutting Quilt Borders

by Gloria
(Surrey, BC)

I am working on my first quilt.

It is time to cut the strips of fabric to make the border. Is it necessary to cut the fabric selvedge to selvedge and then join the strips together or can I just cut the fabric lengthwise and use one long strip?

First I will use a narrow 1-1/2” strip of one fabric followed by a wide 7-1/2” fabric in a different color.


Congratulations on making your first quilt!

Many times quilt patterns instruct you to cut your quilt borders from cross grain fabric strips...those cut from selvedge to selvedge. This is meant to help you economize on fabric.

If there is not a noticeable design in the border fabric AND if the quilt will not be displayed vertically on a wall, then I make my border strips by seaming together crosswise grain strips to create the required length.

For a bed quilt, the bottom and two side edges hang off the edge of the bed. So unless the design of the fabric dictates cutting the fabric a specific way (i.e. directional print), then I would cut all the border strips from the crosswise grain of the fabric to ensure the lengthwise grain runs from the top of the mattress to the very edge of the quilt.

Wall Quilts Need Stabilizing

Now I do prefer to have my border strips in one piece.

Even more important, if the quilt will hang on a wall, I always use lengthwise grain strips for the left and right side borders and crossgrain strips for the top and bottom borders.

Diagram for cutting quilt borders for a wall quilt

Diagram for cutting borders for a quilt that will hang on the wall.

The lengthwise grain is the strongest fabric grain and using it this way helps your quilt hang straighter with less sagging over time.

Just remember, cutting lengthwise grain side borders takes more fabric. You will need to make the yardage calculations yourself, unless otherwise noted on the quilt pattern envelope.

Cutting the top and bottom borders from selvedge to selvedge and seaming when necessary, ensures that the lengthwise grain for those borders runs top to bottom, too. Again, the quilt hangs better.

Thank you for your question, Gloria. Don't forget when your quilt is finished to post a picture of it at Share Your Quilts. We'll love to see it and help you celebrate your achievement!


Julie Baird

Comments for Cutting Quilt Borders

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Cutting lengthwise
by: Anonymous

For a large quilt that hangs on the wall can I cut all border strips lengthwise to avoid seams?

From the Editor: Absolutely! In fact, I, personally, prefer to use lengthwise (parallel to the selvedge) strips because that is the least stretchy grain. It gives a quilt that hangs more stability and less chance of stretching over time.



by: Pat W

Thanks for the diagram you provided. It helps me a lot so I printed it and put it in my sewing room. I am a beginner when it comes to quilting. I have sewn clothes and other things for a lot of years. I even have a degree in fashion design.

Thanks again.

From the Editor: Glad to be of assistance!

You'll be amazed at how many things you learned in dressmaking apply to quilting. One of my favorites is my 'secret' pressing technique for the flattest blocks ever!

Hmmm. 'Wonder if a clapper had anything to do with it. :D


Julie Baird

Joining border strips diagonal or straight seams
by: Anonymous Eleanor

Diagonal seams kr straight seams fir joint border strips

From the Editor: I prefer to use diagonal seams if I need to join border strips.

I think they are easier to camouflage with the quilting than straight seams...especially if it's straight quilting in the border.



Thank you
by: Roxanne

Your diagram is wonderful. I appreciate the way you explained that a hanging quilt needs the borders cut a certain way. I, too like to cut my borders without seaming them especially on smaller quilts.

Thank you!!

Where does the seam go along the top?
by: Elaine


I have been searching with google, but can't seem to find the answer.

If you have to piece the border that goes along the top of the quilt, where is the best place to position the seam?

Unfortunately I didn't learn about cornerstones on your website until now, and I am just short of fabric to do it that way. :(

From the Editor: Personally anywhere but dead center.

The it depends on your quilting design. For instance if you'll be quilting parallel straight lines out from the center of the quilt, you may want to be extra careful to position the seam so that it falls exactly where you'll be quilting.

If you'll be doing lots of quilting in the border, sometimes a diagonal seam (just like you'd do for joining your binding) will just get lost in all the quilting and no one will even know it's there.

If it's a strongly patterned fabric, I suggest taking the time to match the design so that the seam, again, is hidden.

If you're super short on fabric, you might consider cutting all the leftovers from your quilt into equal width strips and then sewing those strips together to form a border fabric.

I know it sucks when you're running short of experience that most quilters go through at least once in their journey. Look at it as a design opportunity and move forward.

I hope this has given you some ideas.


Julie Baird

cutting lengthwise or width wise
by: Sue Petzer

Thanks this as helped my dilemma, so many different ways and each person has a different answer.

by: Gloria (Surrey)

Julie! Thank-you for your reply. It was easy to understand and the diagram is great. This really helped me out.

Gloria...You are quite welcome! Julie

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