Thursday, September 25, 2008


I didn't have enough of the SAME blue to do a full border. I didn't have enough of any ONE fabric that looked right. Because I was going for a vintage look, having so much of any "same" border out there made it look coordinated too much. If I chose all blue...it looked TOO blue. If I chose rust (the little inner border is a rusty orange)it too looked like an after-thought and too plain.

I guess I have my own drummers in my head! So I picked a bunch of different blues, some with that rusty red in them,and cleared them out of the FQ bin. That blue bin doesn't want to shut nicely anyway! *LOL* Some of these are OLD OLD....so it's good to have a home for them.

The thing is...as I was looking through all my books on antique quilts for inspiration, RARELY was another border added to a quilt beyond the pieced border. I could find VERY FEW from 1880 on that would have gone past the pieced border.

I think I would have been happy with it left as it is, and now the pieced border seems swallowed up some how. Live and learn again, right? I sure ain't wanting to take the 4 outer borders off now! Oh, I like it just fine, but I think it would have looked more vintage if I had left it as is. I dunno. I'm half-dozen of one and 6 of the other.

I do know that throwing the blue-with-red prints in there helped. It kept the border from being TOO blue, and it used up those weird prints that were half blue/half red and hard to use in any project as a specific color.

So this brings me to the following questions that were raised by everyone's comments.

WHY does a border have to be half the width of the finished block? Who made up that rule?

Why does a pieced border need to be stabilized with a plain outer border?

I just realized that I've got these same assumptions floating around in my head. I think we've been brainwashed by the QP. When I look at quilts from by gone eras, none of this applies. NONE OF IT. And I think I like things looking less planned and formulated.

I love the antique quilts where there were borders on only 2 sides to make it wide enough. Or long enough. Along with that row of half blocks that got chopped off because the width wasn't needed. I love antique quilts that are simply bound to be used with no borders at all, or maybe just end after the sashing.

And maybe the sashing doesn't have that final outside edge to go all the way around the outside of the quilt, just grids the inside. You know what I mean? Like the blocks on the outside edges are left exposed somehow :c)

I'm not disappointed in how this turned out. I just think it minimized the impact of the zig-zag border and swallowed it up.

Still, done is better than perfect! And I think I have enough of that Eddie Bauer red plaid king sized 100% cotton fitted sheet to use as a backing.....and THAT makes me happy!


  1. I love the border. It does dimish the impact of your first pieced border. However, it looks like a vintage top to me with all the pieces in the second border. Great work! I did not realize there were so many rules to quilting! LOL I just do whatever I feel like.

  2. OK - I was one of those that wanted another, wider border. That being said, I thought the zig zag border would "pop" better with an outer border. I wasn't anticipating a pieced outer border which does detract a bit. That being said, I do not hold forth with the idea of only solid outer borders and certainly not the "rule" about the width of borders. I make border sizes the way I want them (or how much fabric I have to make them!) I make quilts to please me, no one else. (I am SUCH a rebel!!)

  3. No matter even IF I had more of that same inner blue....it would have swallowed up the pieced border. I didn't have any more of it though, and any one thing just looked wrong some how, so because it is a scrappy quilt, I used a bunch of stuff trying to keep it more spontaneous looking and less planned....less of a "kit" type of look.

    I think with the middle being so scrappy, it just had to end that way too.

  4. A. You should know that there are "no" rules.

    B. the border being 1/2 the width of the block is pleasing to a lot of people - but I have had teachers say, My borders are the width of the ruler...

    C. I like to use novelty prints for the borders, so mine are often @ 10 inces wide - divide the [iece of fabric into 4 for the four sides...

    D. For me, I am not so much a fan of the pieced border & when I do them (simply) and add the extra to "Stabilize" - I am not 100% happy with the results. So again, I think that look is pleasing to some... (I think the binding does this job as well - it is a final final border...)

    E. "It's your quilt." is the official answer to all of those questions.

  5. I guess being a self taught quilter I just never knew any of the rules! Keep telling myself I need to take some quilting classes! Border half the size of a finished block??? I never even thought of it! Whatever I feel like doing and whatever looks good to me is fine. I liked it without the border as a simpler styled quilt and think the pieced border takes away. If it were solid I think it would have been a different story.

  6. I think it looks great Bonnie! And I agree that the quilt police probably made up all those rules. I've always read you should never use a sheet for backing (but I sometime do use pieces of old ones)...there you go again, breaking all the rules ;)

  7. I've always heard that the border just needs to be the size of the block or less -- if the border is bigger than the blocks inside it overpowers the blocks. This is another great quilt. I think the blues border stops the pieced border, but I like it both ways.

  8. I like it. but you are right maybe just binding after the pieced border. Live and learn. It is still a wonderful quilt.


  9. I'd never heard those QP rules before!

    I understand the idea of stabalizing a peiced border IF it has bais edges anywhere, as the process of stretching for quilting before binding it would stretch it differentially I'd think.. assuming a straight quilt was the point.

    Borders are seldom a predetermined width relative to anything in my life. Often in fact they're the width of the block I've used in the quilt I think... interesting that someone made a "rule" about what looked right to them, but I doubt I'll be following it anytime soon.

  10. To me, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and if I am happy with my quilts then life is good. Your quilts are wonderful and pleasing to look at and it is always fun to see what you come up with next. :D

  11. Hi,
    First of all, I am a big fan of your blog and your talents.
    Quilting - everyone has an opinion on everything.
    I think some rules have evolved because generally speaking they provide good results. Some proportions are more pleasing to our eyes. These rules were not around for the quilt makers who went before us, and consequently there is some sort of antique precedence for anything and everything in the world of quilts. While it is true that antique quilts usually stopped with the pieced border, a lot of them appear unfinished to our eyes today. I personally like the way your quilt turned out and see no reason to change anything!

  12. Hi Bonnie:

    Maybe there is something wrong with my eyes, but your pieced border looks almost like rick rack against the scrappy blue/red border fabrics. . . .and I think it looks wonderful!

    But then, I just can't bring myself to be as "free" with my piecing as you are so anything you do strikes me as being amazing.

    If you decide that you really do not like the quilt I will gladly ease your pain & take it off your hands!! LOL

  13. I didn't know about a border being half the size of the finished block. I tend to go with a 1/3 or 2/3 of the finished block--for the outside border--when I do one. Just pleases my eye more.

    And isn't that what it's all about anyway?

  14. Wow, you've addressed a number of interesting thoughts in your post. I think these 'rules' have been developed due to how the human brain is wired. Like when you landscape and put in plants, an odd number just looks more pleasing to the human eye. I think it's the same with quilts, doing certain things makes your eye move around the quilt and just plain makes it all work better than if you hadn't done it. But I agree with you, it is fun finding those antique quilts where the maker didn't care about these 'rules' or thumbed her nose at them! I think the thing with this quilt is the zig zag border is too intricate for the center and then that creates the problem of what to do for the outer borders. That said, I think the quilt turned out exactly the way you like, you just don't know it yet! Finis it up, put it away for a month, take it out, and, you'll love it! For what it's worth, I think it's sweet.

  15. I think the rules are for quilters who feel insecure about their own ideas. I know some who won't even pick out their own fabrics in case it's "wrong". They generally go for kits. I love how yours turned out and I do like the outer border. I suppose it depends a lot on the look you are striving for.

  16. When I do a pieced border -- and I often don't -- I tend to use some number of inches that appears in the block pieces. So if it was a 6" block, I'd use maybe a 2" inner border and a 3" or 6" outer border. I mostly like the utility look of no border :)
    I agree, your final pieced blues compete with the zigzags. Maybe if they'd been separated by another narrow rust strip, they'd be showcased more. But FOUR borders -- that's getting faaaar away from the antique utility look.
    Jeanne :)

  17. I love how the quilt turned out! But then, I was one who wanted a border of the blue and this is what I would have done if I didn't have enough of the one blue! I have recently started 'using' up fabrics for borders and bindings and I really like the look. But that is only if I am doing borders. Lots of quilts just end where the blocks end! For me, borders are added to get the quilt the right size for its use!

  18. Congrats on another finish.

  19. I agree with Marianne; some things are just more pleasing to the eye, like 3 plants in a landscape. They aren't "rules" (and those of us who use them aren't unconfident!), they just look better to our brains. And BTW, if you're left brained, certain things appeal to you more than to a right brained person. As for the finishing touch, I like it MUCH better with the border added after the pieced one. I think pieced borders look "unfinished" myself. This is beautiful; I love the blocks agains the dark blue.

  20. You think it swallowed it and I think it framed it nicely making it stand out even more. I love it!

    Isn't it funny when you ask for opinions that you start analyzing your own thought process? I think that is great and makes us grow.

    Can't wait to see it quilted.

  21. Anonymous11:28 AM EDT

    To my eyes the quilt is perfect and more balanced. Using different pieces of fabric for the outer border looks terrific and gives a real vintage look. I don't think the pieced border gets swallowed but probably it's a matter of taste. I usually pick a random size for my borders, but I do pick a size that relates to some measurement of the quiltblocks. If I don't, it looks "off" in a certain way.
    But all in all one should make what pleases the quilter regardless of all "rules" It's your party!!

  22. Hi Bonnie:

    I see what you mean about feeling like the zig-zag border is swallowed up a bit. But, you might be surprised how the binding will rescue it again. Have you thought of using a light binding in the same colour as those zigzags in the pieced border? Just lay the quilt out (or hang it on a design wall if you have enough room) and put a piece of light fabric around two corners and stand back...see what it does. My philosophy is to let your quilt tell you what it wants :-). Forget about the rules and quilt police LOL. Otherwise maybe that reddish from the narrow inner border for the binding. I'll bet the binding will tie the whole thing together again. I've only occasionally used a very light binding and it was the perfect thing for the quilt. Good luck! Looking forward to seeing pics of the whole quilt finished!

    Hugs from Canada,

  23. Bonnie, I love the quilt NOW--the last border is perfect and the colors and scrappyness ties it all together. I didn't like it as well before this last addition, somehow I needed more scrappy and colors AFTER that large amount of the same bright blue. If it doesn't grow on you--send it my way LOL

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. I'm one of the ones who voted for a blue border. However - I never knew there were "rules" about how big the border should be - I had thought maybe as wide as the red sashing. So now I know another rule that I break constantly. It's tough learning to quilt. :(

    But your quilt is lovely. I'm in total awe of all your work!

  26. love your choices for the border. funny, to me it really makes that zig-zag border and center stand out even more. provides space for them to breathe between the quilt and the rest of the world.

  27. As usual, I LOVE this quilt, and yes, I agree with some of your own comments. But, it is so YOU! And after all, it's definitely and proudly a scrap quilt, using whatever you have, etc.

    The border size?? (half the size of the blocks) makes it simple to design a pieced border that might relate to the blocks, that's what I've learned, and it will usually turn the corner well, using the same scale. The zig-zag is just wonderful - wish it had been my own thought! 8-)

    So interesting to read all the comments, to see where (skill-wise) we all come from.

  28. I make my borders whatever width is needed to make the quilt come out big enough (I have a tendency to not make my tops large enough!). No half the size of blocks for me!

    I tend to put a solid border in so that my edges don't stretch when I have the quilt on my hand quilting frame. There are less enticing edges for my assistant (age 2 1/2) to pull thread bits out of!

  29. Never heard any of those rules - I guess you "learn" something different every day.

    My borders end up being however wide I need to get to the finished size I want - or however wide they can be given the fabric I have on hand.


    I like the order border - although I probably would have made it narrower, and then do the binding in the same fabrics so they "meld" - but that's just me...

    Lovely scrappiness as usual!

  30. See I didn't know there were "border rules" I just do what i feel. I like a thin border to 'carry" the binding so someof my outer borders on quilts like this are only an inch or so wide.
    Its times like this I am pleased I learnt to quilt on the internet I seem to ahve skipped over a few of the rules for things and I like my quilts better for it. I love the scrappy border if you really think it is too wide cut off most of it and use it for binding - me the no rule queen i would have gotten a border, and two lots of binding form that width!!!!!!!!

    Angela in Australia

  31. ah, it looks fine. the border looks good on the photo... stands out it suits the style with all the different blocks. very "OLD SCHOOL"

  32. I like it with the added border. I never heard any of the border rules, and will continue to ignore them now that I've heard them. I think it's just personal taste. I always like solid borders surrounding pieced borders to make it seem less busy, a break for my eyes I guess. Like I said, it's just my personal preference.

  33. Anonymous8:25 PM EDT

    I like what your have done, but do agree with your thoughts very much. I find it interesting how we always feel we have to explain when doing something different to what others call the right way.
    I love antique quilts also because of their weird borders or adding another fabric because they ran out.
    I also like quilts with no borders, anyway keep it up.

  34. I liked the quilt both ways. I love looking at you quilts, so down to earth. I'm so jealous you can put this and that together and make GREAT QUILTS.

  35. My mom is a stickler for the border rules and I say that you have to do what the quilt calls for. And what you like. I have been watching this quilt being born and I have to say that it is a quilt that I would be proud to sleep under. It looks warm and cozy. The kind that I love.

  36. You know, there are quilters who need the rules. They are unsure enough of themselves that having a rule helps them figure it out. Some would not be able to proceed without a rule. When they grow beyond that, then they are free!

    That said, rules are made to be ignored--well, unless there are flashing red and blue lights follwoing you--in which case...

    BTW, ten years ago you quilted the "Great Siberian Wedding Quilt" for me. The wedding didn't take place while we were in Siberia--Russian red tape interfered--but they have been married ten years this month, have three kids, and live in Spokane.

    And now I have found you again.

  37. I love your border choice...and I say that you are spot-on about not following rules. I think the creative flow gets stifled by all the RULES!

  38. Bonnie- whack off the outer border one half inch from the seam line. The binding will then hide the half inch border, but none of the pieced border will be covered by the binding. You will then have freed up the outer border- look, all done!- for a quilt of its own. The rotary cutter is your friend, here.

  39. Often "less is better" in a busy quilt - I love busy and often add a rather narrow understated border - I love OTC and haven't had time to do it - if I do, I will do as above mentioned.
    Love your latest, anyhow!
    Hugs - Lurline.

  40. Sorry, Bonnie, I can't agree with ya because I think your quilt is just gorgeous!!!!!!!!!! I just love the pieced border and I think the white zigzag calls attention to itself enough so that it is NOT swallowed up. Now, maybe if the outer border were wider, that might have swallowed it up. But as is, I think it's PERFECT!

  41. Anonymous9:45 AM EDT

    It probably would have been less jarring with a solid border instead of those blue pieces all cobbled together, but that's the fun of your utility quilts.

  42. Bonnie, you are so creative ! I love how you put things together.
    How is life ? Things are humming along here in Texas. Summer seems to be hanging on as you know it can, despite what the calendar says.

  43. wonderfull Quilts are on your Blog with best Wisches from North Germany

  44. It is pretty Bonnie, and you got to use up some of those oldie but goodies in the final border. I like the different colors in the outer border too. But, yes, it does "swallow up" the pieced border. I wonder if - on another quilt - you sandwiched the pieced border between 2 wider borders (instead of a narrow and a wide) if that would help "highlight" the more intricately pieced narrow border??? Lots to think about and try - that is what is so fun about quilting!!!

    I usually cut my outside borders either 6" or 6.5" - depending on what ruler I am using. I usually cut my inner border 2 - 3.5", depending on how much fabric I have or how I think it looks.

    I read somewhere that often times borders/sashings were cut the width of newspaper column print - women would use the newspaper as their "template". How cool is that? Baptist fans from whatever dinner plate was on hand... Old quilts didn't have "rules", just common sense for what worked! Many of my family quilts are tied in red yard and have the corners cut out for the 4 poster beds that Grandpa made!



If you are commenting as "anonymous" please leave your name at the end of your comment.

Did you know that ad space on this blog provides for all of the free patterns and free mysteries and challenges at no cost to you? Without ads, this blog would not be possible.

Thank you for understanding the many hours that go into this blog 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year. :)