How to Add Borders to a Quilt

Quilting is an intricate craft that requires not only skill but also attention to detail. One significant detail that often adds the finishing touch to a quilt is the border. Borders frame your quilt’s design, adding both aesthetic appeal and size. In this guide, we provide you with a step-by-step breakdown of how to add borders to a quilt for a truly complete and polished piece.

Choosing the Right Fabric and Preparing Your Quilt

Before you dive into adding borders, it’s essential to choose the right fabric. Quality cotton fabrics are generally a good choice. Make sure to pre-wash and iron your fabric before starting. Also, trim and square up your quilt top to prepare it for the borders.

Materials Needed:

  • Quilt top
  • Border fabric
  • Rotary cutter
  • Quilting rulers
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread matching the border fabric

Calculating the Length and Width of the Borders

Measure your quilt from top to bottom and from side to side. Jot these measurements down. The standard border width ranges from 2 to 12 inches. Decide on the width of your border and multiply it by 2. Add this number to both the length and width measurements of your quilt. Cut your border strips according to these calculations.

Attaching the First Pair of Borders

Always start by attaching the borders to the shorter sides of your quilt first. Align the border strip to the edge of your quilt top, right sides facing each other. Sew with a 1/4-inch seam allowance, making sure to start and stop 1/4-inch from both corners. Press the seam allowances toward the border.

Attaching the Second Pair of Borders

Repeat the process with the longer sides of your quilt. The trick is to match the ends of the new borders with the already attached borders at each corner. Fold the corners at a 45-degree angle and sew them to give your quilt a professional, mitered look.

Adding Multiple Borders

For multiple borders, repeat the above steps for each border, starting from the innermost to the outermost. It’s crucial to measure each new layer before cutting and sewing to ensure that each successive border aligns perfectly with the previous one.

Quilting and Final Touches

After attaching all your borders, it’s time to proceed with quilting as you normally would. You can either do hand quilting or use a long-arm quilting machine for a faster and more precise finish. Don’t forget to also add a binding to seal the edges of your quilt, including the borders.

Border Design Ideas

If you wish to make your quilt stand out, consider using intricate border designs. From scalloped edges to pieced borders, the design possibilities are endless. Just remember, the complexity of your border should match the intricacy of your quilt pattern.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Not measuring properly: Always double-check your measurements.
  • Using the wrong thread: Match your thread color to your border fabric.
  • Skipping the ironing step: Ironing ensures smooth and straight borders.


Adding borders to your quilt is not just a finishing touch; it’s an artistic statement. By following these steps carefully, you’ll be well on your way to creating a quilt that is not only functional but also a piece of art.


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