A quilt is a beautiful work of art pieced in love and worked in fiber. The borders of a quilt offer a dose of stability as well as a finishing framework showcasing our creativity and hard work. Once a quilt top is complete, choosing a design leads us to the question..what about the borders?
If we decide to 'edge-to-edge' quilt a design, then our borders are simply ignored, allowing the stitched motif to spill over from one edge of the quilt to the other. Stitch lines are invalid and the quilting assumes a life of it's own. One option to this is a partial edge-to-edge design where the design flows within the main area of the quilt stopping at the border area. This gives us freedom to pursue some unique framework stitching for our quilt. In the Dresden quilt above the main quilt area is quilted edge to edge with a cross hatch design. The leafy outer border was given a trailing leaf design offering contrasting texture as well as a muted design element.
Often a border dictates its own design. The Holly Lane quilt, above, is bordered with pieced leaves and berries. Outlining the existing motif enhanced the design while leaving soft texture and body for the bed size quilt. Quilts with obvious design elements, such as flowers, leaves, or even geometric image, can easily be outlined for a border that adds beauty and texture without distracting from the main design.
Here we have a quilt with plenty of design element, except in the border area. The main piecing has stars and triangles dancing about with plenty of color and texture, yet the borders sport solid, plain fabric. When I consider this quilt, two thoughts come to mind..1. continue the theme: allow the stars/triangles to be stitched along the border to include them in the design..this will hide the obvious plainness of the fabric. 2. soften the blow: add some curve or circular stitching to the border softening the sharp angles in the main design. Adding another border would work as well.
Framing our quilt with borders leaves a clean finish to our central design. I generally try to contrast my outer frame quilting with the inner quilting..for example, if the inner quilt design has plenty of lines or sharp angles, my border quilting will generally be softer curves and rounded shapes. Some standard designs for quilting borders are feathers, gables, fans, and spirals. Any design can be a border design: repeating hearts, leafy vines, even our cross hatch. Remember, when filling our quilt spaces, we are only limited by our own imaginations..grab your thimble and let's stitch something beautiful!