qotd - wavy borders

luvtosharedivsMarch 7, 2012

Usually I'm careful about measuring for borders.

I take the measurements from the vertical middle of the quilt for the side borders, and after adding those borders I take the horizontal middle measurement of the quilt for the top and bottom borders. I've always had success in getting borders that fit nicely with a minimum of fidgiting.

After I quilt the layers, I then machine baste the very edge of the border 1/8" from the edge, then trim away the excess batting & backing, then add the binding. I've never had a problem with waviness in a border until recently.

I am presently finishing a Bargello quilt, and while machine basting the border edge, I encountered slight waviness in the outer edge of the border fabric. What was puzzling was that the inner edge of the border fit just fine as I attached it to the pieced middle.

Maybe the fabric "shrunk up" some after all the quilting stitches???

My question to all you experts is:

Do you machine baste the outer edge of your outside border before or after you quilt the rest of the quilt?

Any other tips to avoid a wavy edged border?

Thanks,

Julie

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rosajoe_gw

Julie I always machine baste the edges after I finish quilting.
I never really thought about it before, but I guess the quilting could cause it to shrink some, but I would think if your quilting was evenly spaced on the quilt it wouldn't matter.

One time I basted the edges on a baby quilt before I quilted it and I had small wrinkles on the back so I don't do that any more!
Rosa

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 7:02PM
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tuppermom

When quilting on a long arm, you baste the edge of the quilt as you go so I think it would help to baste the edges prior to machine quilting on any machine.

Just my opinion

Mary

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 7:12PM
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luvtosharedivs

Thanks, Mary and Rosa, for your responses about basting the edges.

Apparently no one on this forum has had trouble with a little extra fullness on the edges of their outer borders, and how to fix the problem. So I did some googling of my own and found a couple of solutions.

Julie

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 10:01PM
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grammyp

I baste after I quilt, but I have a different process. I measure my quilt on each edge and the middle before cutting the border. I have found from time to time the middle may be the widest point. I make my outer border slightly wider than I want for the final version. Then if the quilt isn't quite straight when finished, I have a little wiggle room when I square and trim it up.

beverly

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 9:40AM
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calliope

No, I don't usually have problems with waviness, so couldn't contribute anything to the conversation. That's not to say I don't have problems with other quilting issues. LOL. In fact the time I took one of my first quilts out to be LA I apologised to the quilter for the clumsiness of the quilt, explaining it was only my second and basically didn't know what I was doing. She mentioned then that it was an easy one to do because she didn't have any wavy borders and that was her biggest obstacle, even from experienced quilters. I frankly didn't know what she was talking about. I do now.

I went to a site on the web of a lady who does LA for quilters and read her instructions to those submitting quilts. Basically she was able to 'steam' out some waviness and charged extra for any quilts she had to tuck seams on. This takes us to the issue of pressing your work as you do it. It's an absolute necessary as far as I am concerned, because all of us at some point ease in a little on seams (unless you're perfect, and I'm not). Most of the patterns I use have some work done on bias and material also stretches.

I take each sub-section of a block and press it out and measure it to a template or grid. Make the corrections at each stage and check the final block for accuracy as you attach each one.

I do make braided rugs as well, and they, like quilts will compound any little error as you work. It's especially a common problem for rug makers not to have work lay flat and it's just a cumulative error. If the first sections aren't eased in properly the problem becomes more pronounced the further out the work you get. It gets magnified, you can't correct it down the line.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 9:52AM
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luvtosharedivs

Bev,
Thanks for your response.
I have found from time to time the middle may be the widest point.
That (so far) hasn't happened to me. I usually measure the middle and both sides and sometimes take an average of all three measurements to use for the border sections.
On my Bargello quilt, the middle was the shorter of the three measurements, but not by much. One side was 1/4" longer and the other was 3/8" longer. I eased the side seams in to match the length of the border strip, so both sides would be equal to the middle measurement.

I like your idea of making the side borders a little wider to give you wiggle room when squareing and trimming!

Calliope,
Thanks for your response.

From your story about quilts taken to long armers and knowing wavy borders can happen even with experienced quilters, makes me feel better that I'm not alone, and I'm only a beginner!

I like your idea of pressing and measuring each sub-section of a block and making any corrections as needed. I will make a note of that for the next quilt I make with blocks.

I used to make crocheted rugs, and ended up with a few wavy borders, but eventually got better with my stitches.

But back to the wavy edges on my quilt...

Since I had not had this problem on previous quilts, I asked myself...what's different in the construction of this (Bargello) quilt?

1. It's not constructed of blocks, but 49 vertical strips.
I was very careful to sew the strips together in opposite directions to avoid bowing, and I sewed groups of ten together into five panels, then joined them all.

2. The quilt doesn't have batting in the middle, because I wanted a very light bed covering for Summer.

3. There was a lot of "give" in the finished top, because of a bizzilion seams, so it's possible I didn't square up the sides and top of the quilt accurately before trimming

My thinking is that possibly as I quilted the top to the backing, maybe all that stitching pulled more on the fabric than if I would have had the extra bulk of batting in the middle, thus slightly shrinking the quilted area, leaving the border edges slightly fuller.

Also, when I basted the border edge to the backing, I had taken off my walking foot, like a dummy, and maybe the border fabric slipped across the backing in certain places.

Anyway, I found advice on a site (which I can't find anymore) which is quite simple to fix the extra fullness of edge. I took out the machine basted stitching in the places where the fabric "tucked". Leaving about 3-4" open, I basted by hand, and pulled up one thread to "ease in" the extra fullness. Now there are no more unsightly tucks or pleats in the outer border!

Another solution to constructing a Bargello quilt is to sew the individual strips directly to the backing and batting (which has been marked with vertical lines.) That way it's a QAYG project. Then your borders will certainly not be wavy!

What a learning process!

Julie

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 2:01PM
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calliope

"There was a lot of "give" in the finished top, because of a bizzilion seams"

Tell me about it! I'm making a jewel box right now and each twelve inch block has forty eight pieces in it. Seams everywhere and my DD says I should hand quilt this one. I don't think so. It would be hard to find a spot where there isn't four thickness of material. LOL

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 4:02PM
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luvtosharedivs

Calliope,
I LOVE the Jewel Box pattern!
I don't think I'd have the patience you have though, to make it with such tiny pieces. Be sure to share a photo when it's finished!

Julie

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 7:28PM
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