How Do You Sew
A Mitered Border?


Around the outside of a block or a whole quilt, a strip of fabric is often used to frame the block or quilt.  This is called a border.  It may be made by sewing strips of fabric to the sides of the quilt blocks in the shape of a frame. The border highlights the designs in the blocks or is part of the overall design.

How Do You Sew A Mitered Border?  These tips and techniques will insure your finished mitered border is just right and you will learn how to quilt this technique.

Border strips may simply meet with two fabrics butting against each other one longer than the other.  This is called a but end joint. Frequently, however, a mitered border is desirable. Both butt end and mitered corners usually require a quarter inch seam allowance.

A mitered corner is a neatly formed ninety degree angle formed with fabric by two intersecting forty five degree angles of fabric.

To sew a mitered corner in a border, simply overlap the two pieces of border where they meet, mark, cut each border piece on a forty five degree angle, and join the two pieces by sewing them together.

Here is a detailed step by step description of how to sew mitered corners in borders.

1.  Measure accurately. Measure across the center of the height (top to bottom) and width (side to side). The edges or sides tend to stretch giving inaccurate measurements.

2. If needed square the block so the sides are true and straight. Be sure to measure across both horizontally and vertically.

3. Select the right fabric for your borders. It may be a contrasting color, print, or texture, but it is important to choose the border you think will look good framing your quilt or block.

4. Cut border strips. Borders should be cut along the lengthwise grain of the fabric .

Unlike bindings, borders do not generally need the added stretch inherent in bias cuts. (Crosswise grain also has more stretch than the lengthwise grain, but less than the bias.)

The size of your border will depends on how wide you want your border to be. Add about one quarter inch to the width for each seam allowance. (Allow one half inch overall seam allowance to join fabric with other borders, blocks, or bindings.)

5. Cut the border length of the strips to include the length of the side it will cover, plus double the width of the border (half for beginning and half for end), and add an extra four inches (half for beginning and half for end).

Make sure you have enough length to conveniently make the mitered corner. If you cut it too short, you will need to cut a brand new piece. If it is cut a little long, it is ok because you can always trim the excess.

6. Layout your border along the edge of the quilt or project by starting in the middle. Measure the side. Divide the measurement by two. Mark the center of the side with a marking pen, chalk, or pin. Fold the border fabric in half lengthwise to find its middle and align the border with the side or your project.

7. Lay your border fabric on the quilt right sides together with the quilt face up. Attach the centers with a pin. Finish attaching the border to the quilt top leaving the trailing ends overlapping the perpendicular borders as they meet. From the end of the quilt top mark a quarter inch seam allowance on both the quilt top and border at beginning and end of the seams.

8. Begin working on each corner one at a time. Neatly fold back one border at a forty five degree angle. You may use several different rulers to make sure this angle is accurate.

Finger press it in place or use your steam iron to crease the angle fold in place.

If using an iron, take care to use the press, lift, press, lift technique and avoid rubbing it over the fabric. Continue with the adjacent border fabric until the two forty five degree angles match up as a ninety degree angle.

9. Open the fold (mark it if necessary) and stitch along the folded line forming the mitered corner. Leave a quarter inch seam allowance at the beginning and ending of the seam.

10. Trim the excess trim fabric.

11. Unfold the fabric corner, and press it neatly to form a crisp edge fold over the stitching.

This border technique may be used in dozens of other sewing beyond quilting including such as table covers, table runners, scrap booking, pillows, etc.

There are many variations on this basic technique to speed the process and you may find your own special ways to joining borders in perfectly aligned mitered corners. When we were writing this instruction guide for mitered corners, we felt an obligation to provide the traditional approaches that have been taught for years, but every little bit one of the team members would pipe up, “Why do you do it that way? Here is a quicker and easier way…”

Here is My Quick & Easy Technique:

Cut your border strips a bit longer than needed. Use longer strips.

Lay one strip face up and lay the block face down on top of the border strip with edges together.

Stitch a border strip using a quarter inch seam allowance along one side beginning and ending one quarter inch from the end of the block’s side.(Be sure to anchor seam beginning and end.)

Turn the block ninety degrees to do the adjacent side.

Turn back the end of the side already sewn so it is out of the way.

Align a second border strip as before and sew.

Now notice that you have two strips of fabric flopping beyond the corner of the block.

Align these face to face following the line of the block to form a forty five degree angle.

Sew along the angle.

How Do You Sew A Mitered Border?  These tips and techniques will insure your finished mitered border is just right and you will learn how to quilt this technique.

Donna Trumble is a professional designer, seamstress, author, sewing educator, and sewing business owner. She leads several Sewing Show And Tell groups in her stores guiding participants to shop sewing machines and learn about sewing and quilting.




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