how to sew a pieced border on quilt
Borders, Twirling Fans, Twirling Fans QAL

Making a Pieced Border

This is it! the final tutorial in making the Twirling Fans Quilt. I hope you all have enjoyed the entries (and Maybe, just Maybe, someone has sewn something with the tutorials….). Even if you don’t make this quilt, there have been some tutorials along that way that you may find useful for other projects, including,
partial seams (adding the center square so the fans “twirl” around it)
cutting and sewing borders that lay flat
machine applique with a turned (finished) edge

This is our last step: sewing the optional outer pieced “scrappy” border for the quilt. This pieced border would replace the solid fabric strip border described in the pattern. It is a good way to use leftover pieces from making the fans and larger-scale prints.

in the previous step, I showed you some different ways to piece that inner, half-square triangle border.

The final pieced border consists of pieced blocks put together at random so that the blocks blend and look scrappy all together.
Measure your quilt top down the center axis like this (includes the quilt center and the inner border):

This measurement will be the length of BOTH of the short borders. Based on this measurement, you may adjust the size of your blocks to fit your quilt properly, or plan on making some half blocks, etc. I will show examples using 8″ border blocks (they will be 8 1/2″ unfinished).

I am not listing quantities, just piecing instructions, as you will need to make the quantity appropriate to fit your quilt.
When you are piecing the blocks, think of each one as a giant 4-patch where each of the 4 squares contain different pieced units or solid squares/rectangles of fabric.

1.  to make a four patch block:

  • cut four squares 2 1/2″ x 2 1/2″
  • piece the squares together in pairs, and press seams to opposite sides
  • sew the two units together, matching the center seams (if pressed opposite, they will snuggle together)

2.  to make a strippy block:

  • cut four strips 4 1/2″ x 1 1/2″
  • sew the strips together along long edges to form one unit (should measure 4 1/2″ square)

(I used scraps from my fan blocks to make the pieced components of my borders)

3. cut fabric squares 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″
cut fabric rectangles 4 1/2″ x 8 1/2″
cut fabric squares 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″
(I used fabrics with large scale prints, or really pretty ones I wanted to show off for the solid fabric components of my borders)

4. Sew the units made above into blocks in various combinations that equal 8 1/2″ squares.
Here are a few examples:

sew these blocks together in strips to the appropriate length for your quilt. If your quilt measurement doesn’t equal an even number of pieced blocks, you may trim some of the solid fabric components (such as the 4 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ rectangles: make them 4″ x 8 1/2″ for example, if needed). The 8 1/2″ square pieces are perfect for trimming as needed, since slight variations won’t be noticeable once you have all the blocks sewn together. it’s supposed to look scrappy, after all.

5. Lay the border strip alongside the pieced quilt center. Measure the center point of both, as well as the half-way points between center and edge, as shown below (red dots)

Next match the border strip right-sides together with quilt top. Pin at the points marked (red dots) as well as the two ends.
Sew the border to the quilt top (quarter-inch seam). Turn right sides up and press open or to one side.
Repeat for opposite border, which should measure the same length as the first.

6. To add the last two borders, repeat all steps. Measure the center axis of the quilt including the two borders already added to determine the length of last two borders.

Your top is complete!
Here is mine,

I would be totally tickled to see what you have created with the pattern!


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4 thoughts on “Making a Pieced Border

  1. Melissa says:

    Wow! I just love this quilt and pattern! Out of curiosity how do you draw the mock ups?

  2. Maureen Bird says:

    Great diagrams! I too was wondering how you drew them.

  3. Letha Gunter says:

    Thanks for the instructions for the border…I was just looking on the picture to figure it out….but with the instructions…it is a piece of cake….

  4. Letha Gunter says:

    I sent you an email with pictures, but it came back a domain error.
    How may I send you a picture of my completed quilt top?

I love comments! thanks for stopping by.