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LA 16 - Are Your Borders Borderline?
This is one of the newsletters in a series of over thirty on "Getting The Most Out Of Your Longarming Dollar." That was the title of one of Ruth's talks at Shipshewana's Schoolhouse training sessions during their Quiltfest.
The purposes of those talks and these newsletters are to:
  • Allow you to get the best longarm quilting results;
  • Have you end up with a work of art of which you are proud;
  • Anticipate the needs of your longarmer because that impacts the cost; and,
  • Make the longarming process easier on your longarmer so that they may focus on the quality of their craftsmanship.
Prior emails in this series can be found on our web-site: on the tab newsletters.
Quilts "Without Borders!"

Preference in how things look to you is important. However, there are situations when it effects your longarmer. Narrow borders is one example of such a situation.

More and more often we are receiving quilts with a one inch border with a request to do edge-to-edge centers with a complementing yet different border. I don't know whether it is the "in thing" to have narrow borders. Or, whether it is the high cost of fabric. Or, whether it is the quilt pattern designers who are specifying such narrow borders.

From our point of view, it takes more time to do a narrow border, The patterns that can be used are fewer. Placement of the design is more exacting. And, slight variations in the border show up like they are under a microscope. Correspondingly, the quilts brought in with a one inch border for overall edge-to-edge quilting present similar problems. A small border limits the abilities to make the stitching look good from a longarming and stitching perspective.

Remember, when the longarmer sees the quilt, the border is 1 1/4" wide: one inch for the border and a quarter inch for the binding.

Often times the border fabric has been ripped, or not cut straight due to the repositioning of the rulers used for guiding the cutting, or unfolded and folded to show to friends, or to show to quilt clubs, etc. By the time the longarmer gets the quilt to longarm, the edge of the border can be pretty ragged..

Look at it this way. A one inch border means the fabric is 1 1/4" wide when we get it. When there is a slight variation in the border due to the above and due to inconsistencies in the quarter inch seam allowance with the rest of the quilt, the distances from the stitching to the binding or the inside block will be noticeably different. A variation of 1/8" is the equivalent of 12.5% loss [or gain] of the border because the usable border is now 7/8" [or 1 1/4"] wide.

Most of the longarmers I know care that their work looks good. To a longarmer a quilt is like their business card or advertisement. A small border makes it harder for a longarmer to "show their stuff," as it were. When you look good, then we look good.

When we started in the longarming business seventeen years ago, the opposite of small borders was the norm. Six and eight inch boarders were often brought in. Many times there were several borders and all of them were in the four to six to eight inch range.

The reason that I bring this up is that what is important is how your quilt looks. How it is balanced in construction. How it looks to you. If the quilt screams for a one inch then that's what needs to be done. If the quilt screams for a larger border, then that's what needs to be done. The balance of the quilt and how it looks when it is finished has little to do with the price of fabric, the latest trend, or the desire to use less fabric.

It's your quilt. You decide. But, take into account your longarmer, their abilities and their preferences.

Tip On Making Your Borders

Make your borders larger than you want them in the end and inform your longarmer of the ending border size your want.

For example, if you have a one inch border, then sew on a two inch border and notify your longarmer that the border is to be one inch. This makes it easier for the longarmer to load and plan. It also removes any affects of the above sources of variations. Then the quilt is squared up for binding to 1 1/4". You loose some fabric, but the results are worth it.

Similarly, a six inch border would be cut to seven inches. The longarmer informed. The resulting quilt cut down to a border that is 6 1/4", or to 6 3/8" for a fuller binding.
May The Lord Richly Bless You!
Rick & Ruth Grihalva
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