by Mary Beth Krapil
I was recently at the AQS Fall Paducah Quilt Week, and of course, I took time to look at the quilts. As usual, something caught my attention on one of the first quilts I saw. And, as usual, I started to look at that one aspect on all the other quilts. This time it was borders.
Why do we add borders to our quilts? They can create a nice frame for the piecing, they can add size (so it fits the bed!), they can help to square the quilt up. There are all kinds of borders, from simple strips of fabric to elaborately pieced borders. Some times we add multiple borders. Once the borders are added, comes the task of quilting them. And just like the borders themselves, there are many ways to get them quilted.
Quilting borders poses some unique challenges. They are long spaces that really catch the eye. So you really want the quilting to be right. If you choose to quilt a symmetrical design, it has to be well planned out, so it fits nicely in the space. This quilt is a great example of that concept. I loved the symmetry of this quilt, the piecing, applique, and the quilting all contribute to that symmetry. I think the quilter chose the perfect border design.
Here is another nice example of symmetry:
Sometimes, there are no borders, so there’s nothing to worry about!
But sometimes, even though there are no borders, you can create a border with the quilting.
Of course that is the case with a wholecloth quilt. The center is framed nicely by a distinct quilted border. Notice how Bethanne left a narrow space with no quilting to create the illusion of a frame and then repeated that space at the outside edge to skillfully define the frame.
Sometimes the piecing of the borders define spaces for quilting designs. In this lovely quilt, the piecing pokes out into the border. Margaret quilted a fantastic twisted feather design and it seemingly goes under the blocks that protrude into the border and continues all the way around the quilt.
Here the border design flows beautifully around the quilt and the shape is defined by the pieced elements of the outer border.
In this medallion quilt the white triangular spaces in the outer border are the perfect place for a quilted motif. Medallion quilts typically are multiple borders around a center piece or center medallion. It sure gives lots of opportunity for designing border quilting!
Here the print of the border fabric dictates the shape of the quilting.
In this quilt, the piecing of the border totally defines the quilting. This is an example where you would not want the quilting to overpower the beautiful piecing. The quilted motifs in the solid border are a lovely accent to the pieced border.
And sometimes it is best to keep the quilting in the border simple and let the main focus of the quilt shine.
Valorie quilted a simple motif in the grey border that mimics the shapes in the applique. Repetition of shapes is always a good design idea.
In this quilt, the piecing and applique are the undoubted stars, so the simple piano key around the border is perfect.
I hope you got some inspiration and some insight into what designs work well on borders. Do you study quilting designs when you’re at a quilt show? What have you learned? I think it’s the perfect place to see designs that work, and those that miss the mark.
See you at the quilt show!