A quilt can benefit from a proper frame as much as any painting or photograph hanging in an art gallery. Quilt designers use borders as frames, and choosing the right one adds the perfect finishing touch and elevates the entire design.
The September/October 2018 issue of Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting includes quite a few quilts that will have you playing with borders. Leaf Scatter is a good example; if you’ve never attempted a mitered border or played with border prints, this quilt will show you just how much of a WOW factor this simple approach can add.
The mitering technique is one that every quilter should try at least once, if only to prove to oneself how easy it is. Don’t believe us? Take a look at this Sew Easy free video tutorial on mitered corners. Aside from the fact that the demonstration is done with blender prints and not stripes, this is exactly how you would miter the corners with any border stripe.
The big difference when using a border stripe print for mitered borders is that you need sharp fussy-cutting skills (pun intended). Take your time to make sure you center each stripe’s motif identically before cutting strips. The effort will be worth it when it comes time to miter the corners and the motifs line up effortlessly, creating the elegant and unbroken lines you intended.
To miter or not to miter is a question that may be answered by the border stripe itself. The design of the border stripe from the Autumn Leaves collection used in Leaf Scatter indicates that it’s intended for mitered borders. Each stripe of leaves is bordered by a black background to one side and a cream background to the other. If you butted these border strips, the leaves would never meet and the seam lines would be starkly obvious.
Orienting the strips carefully and mitering the corners takes best advantage of this border stripe.
There are times, though, when the decision to miter a border stripe print can be up to the quilter. Take Starring Sunflowers from the Love of Quilting January/February 2018 issue and featured in the 3100 series of the “Love of Quilting” TV show.
The large-scale sunflower border print would look smashing if used in mitered borders, but the quilt is no less lovely with butted borders. The uniform teal background hides seam lines, while the sunflowers themselves have a wild, uncontained appearance and don’t require the formality of mitered corners.
If you’re using prints from a collection that includes a border stripe, take a few minutes to consider how you’d use it to frame your work, even if you ultimately decide to use a different border design. Being familiar with the different looks butted and mitered borders offer will open up new possibilities in your quilting.