“Quilting 101″ Quilt-Along: Cutting Fabric for the Border and the Back + A Quilt Contest + The Story of My First Quilt

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For those of you who are following the “Quilting 101″ quilt-along in 2011, we are now on step #3 of our quilt-along where I will show you your steps for cutting fabric for the border and the back of your quilt.  It’s not too late to join –just follow the before-mentioned link.

Today, I’m going to guide you through 2 steps: putting a border on the front of your quilt, and piecing the back of your quilt.  But before I do, I wanted to share a story, along with a few past blog posts in celebration of my blog’s one year anniversary.

This “Quilting 101″ quilt-along has been bringing back memories of the first time I made a quilt from beginning to end.

While the Charley Harper Quilt I made for my daughter was my first design, and mostly my work, the binding, back, and quilting on that quilt was done by a professional.  Soon, after my daughter was born, I wanted to learn the technicalities of quilting and so I took a quilting class.  Again, I wanted the design to be mine (meaning I didn’t want to follow a pattern, rather I wanted to use an idea I had in my head), and for the first time, I made a quilt, all the steps, by myself, from beginning to end –it was officially my first quilt.

order a custom made mondern quilt

get a custom made modern quilt

order a custom made modern quilt

order a custom made mondern quilt

get a custom made modern quiltThe idea behind this quilt, was to “step out of the box”.  As you can see, hand-turned appliqued and hand-embroidered birds are “walking” off their fabric and onto other fabrics on the quilt.  I felt that this described me well as a quilter –I never wanted to conform, rather I always wanted to follow my own designs.

Gen X Quilters Earlier this week I stumbled upon a blog called Gen X Quilters.  They are hosting a competition and so I thought I would enter this quilt.  What do you think?  I’ve always loved it –maybe because it was my first.

Since you guys are making your first quilts, I thought you might want to read about my first quilt.  Check out these links:

Making Another Machine Applique Quilt – Part #1 (Follow this link to read about the rookie mistake I made as a first time quilter.)

Making Another Machine Applique Quilt – Part #2

Embroidery Birds, Making Another Machine Applique Quilt – Part #3

It’s Finished, Making Another Machine Applique Quilt

Well, maybe I should stop telling stories, and instead I should get to the quilt-along part of this post.

Here’s how you cut fabric for the border and the back:

Before we get started, please check your fabric amounts and decide how big you want your quilt to be.  If you have more than 4 and 3/4 yards of fabric for both your back and your border combined, I recommend making your quilt bigger.  The border of a quilt is used to frame a quilt, and make a quilt to the desired size.  Right now your quilt top should be about 74″ x 40″.  My sister wants the quilts I’m making for her to be 48″ x 82″ in size, so I’m going to add a 4″ border around the entire quilt.  A standard twin size mattress is about 40″ x 75″ in size (Note: please measure your mattress, as all mattresses vary a bit).  A standard twin-size quilt is around 60″ x 90″ in size –and that means that you would need a border that is 10″ wide.

Please decide for yourself, how wide you want your border to be.

Now, we need to do a little math.  I’m going to use my quilt-top and border situation as the example.  You might need to vary these numbers a bit, depending on what you decide.

My quilt top with borders is 48″ x 82″ in size.  Add 3″ to the length and the width of the quilt to figure out how big your quilt back needs to be.  My quilt back need to be 51″ x 85″.

When we started the quilt-along, I told you that you needed at least 4 3/4 yards for the back and the border of the quilt (more if you wanted your border to be a different fabric than your back).  This is how it breaks down, and these are the step I took:

Step 1: 4 3/4 yards x 36″ = 171″ (this is the length of the fabric)

Step 2: Divided 171″ by 2 = 85.5″ (Note: My quilt back needs to be at least 85″ long –so far, so good)

Step 3: I CAREFULLY cut my 4 3/4 yards into two pieces, exactly 85.5″ long, or 2 3/8 yards long.

Step 4: I set aside one of the 85.5″ long panels, because I’m going to use that for the back of my quilt.

Step 5: With the other 85.5″ panel, I’m going to cut three strips that are 85.5″ long, and 4.5″ wide.  Why 4.5″ wide?  Well, I want my border to be 4″ wide, and my seam allowance is 1/4″.  The border is going to be sewn on two sides, so I take 1/4″ x 2 + 4″ = 4.5″.  So , I first cut off my selvage, and then I cut my three strips and I’m left with a strip that is about 28″ wide and 85.5″ long.

Step 6: Remember, my quilt top without borders is 74″ x 40″.  So I cut one of the 85.5″ strips in half to get two strips that are about 43″ long.

Step 7: Sew one of the 43″ long strips onto the top of the quilt-top, and sew of the 43″ long strips onto the bottom of the quilt-top.  Press the seam allowances.  Using a straight edge, trim off the excess border fabric to square the corner.

Step 8: Sew a 85.5″ strips onto each side of the quilt-top.  Press the seam allowances.  Using a straight edge, trim off the excess border fabric to square the corner.  My quilt-top is now complete!

Step 9: I have two pieces remaining: one that is 85.5″ x 42″, and another that is 85.5″ x 28″.  My final step is to sew these two pieces together, press my seam allowance, and whala, my quilt back is assembled.  (Note:  It’s ok for your quilt back to be too large.  You will cut off the excess fabric after you finish with the quilt sandwich process.)

So, if you only bought 4 3/4 yards of fabric for both your back and border, you follow my exact steps stated above.  If you have more fabric, please feel free to play around with making your quilt larger if you prefer.  Also, pieced backs are really popular these days, so if you find your quilt back being too short, or too skinny, pull out that left-over fabric, and see if you can piece together a row or a strip to make up that needed yardage.

Good luck!  And as always, leave any questions and thoughts in the comment section below.

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