Deciding What to Quilt~ Borders

Well, it has been two weeks since my last “Deciding What to Quilt” post, but I hope that this one was worth waiting on! Today we are going to talk about quilting quilt borders. Some quilters love them and some quilters, like me, don’t like them. But I feel that I should clarify that it’s not that I hate quilt borders, it’s just that I am kinda on the lazy/impatient side. When I am piecing a quilt, I am usually over it before I even get to the borders….but I am getting off track.

Recently, Patricia sent me an email with a picture of her quilt.

quilt made with modern fabric

Photo by Patricia

But she wasn’t asking about the whole quilt top…..Here is what she had to say about it:

I’m thinking of taking off that outside border. I think it pushes the quilt into more of a traditional look and think it conflicts with Malka’s fabrics. If I were to figure out something fun to do in the borders, maybe it would work. My friends who used more traditional fabrics are planning on adding appliqué to that border. I don’t think that would be effective for mine. So what are your thoughts? Would you take the borders off? Extend the zigzag effect on up? Swirl it up? Play around with different sized circles? And for thread I think using the lighter shade of gray would work everywhere, except in those darker gray sashing areas.

When I am quilting a quilt with borders, I don’t have the option of taking it off. So I am going to answer it as if she is going to leave the borders on. If I were quilting this quilt, I would do exactly what she suggested in her statement, I would extend the piecing into the border. Something like this:

deciding what to quilt

I would keep the quilting designs the same as the piecing in the center of the quilt. I would then fill in the rest of the border with the same filler as I did in the center. Perhaps a geometric quilting design?

I actually did something similar to Heather’s quilt:

quilting in solid quilt border

It’s hard to see in the black fabric, but I extended some of the piecing in the center of the quilt into the border. Before I started the quilting, I  used a chalk pencil to pick a few of the strip to use for the quilting. I normally use a water soluble blue marker, but it wouldn’t show up on the black!

how to quilt it in the border

Unlike my suggestion above, I left the strips unquilted. I wanted them to contrast with the filler. To help achieve that, I echoed each side of the strip with another line and then filled in between them with pebbles. Here is a back view of the quilt.

back of modern quilt quilting

What about thread?

Back to Patricia’s quilt, I agree with her about the gray thread. The neutral thread will blend with the border fabric but won’t clash with the center of the quilt.

What do you think?

So, what do you think? Do you like borders? How would you quilt the borders on Patricia’s quilt? I know that she would love as many suggestions as she could get!

Happy Quilting!




  1. Yes, I like extending the colors into the borders of Patricia’s quilt but WOW! I just love the quilting you did on Heather’s quilt!!!

  2. I like the idea of extending the piecing into the border, but would try to recreate the stair-step and leave the ‘lanes’ as unquilted space. I would keep the borders.

  3. Althought I am like you and typically too impatient to add borders to my own quilts I really love quilting quilts with borders- they are like a frame to the quilt and I like the idea of using a different design on the border areas to frame up a quilt. My favorite of course would be feathers- a big beautiful feather frame around the complex piecing center really looks beautiful in my mind. I don’t know if that would suit this particular quilt, but for borders in general that is my favorite technique. I like your suggestions as well, and love how you quilted the example quilt.

  4. I like the idea of the straight lines being extended into the border to keep the flow from the center to the outside, but I wonder about using some colored thread? It would continue the color to the outside too but in a softer, more muted fashion and perhaps take it a step away from the traditional look. The quilt is beautiful though – keep the borders! Love the colors.

  5. FlourishingPalms says:

    I would quilt stairs, as in the body of the quilt. Just continue the steps from where they are in the quilt center. Then, in some of the spaces I would quilt squares that also echo the patchwork effect in the center. Don’t you agree these would be more interesting than straight lines?

  6. I too have a thing with borders.. A different thing however. I like borders usually put them on my quilt. But when it come to the quilting eeeekkk! all of that space. I never know what to do.
    Pat love the borders on your quilt. It would look quite diff without them. I like how it frames the rest and focuses your eye to those amazing fabrics. I love Angela’s ideas for your border. If you didnt want to do so much pebbling you could quilt more diagonal lines.
    Please post when you have done. Love to see what you chose!


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