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Adding a Border

Are you pro-borders on a quilt or rather go without? It's funny how many of my (quilty) friends have pretty strong opinions about them. I tend to like them on the right quilt, and I *really* like adding a bit of size without as much piecing work. ;) 

I know they're often found on vintage quilts, but I actually think they can add a modern flair to a quilt design...almost framing it out. So when Briana, a friend who was testing the Scrappy Triangle pattern for my Heritage Series quilt pattern bundle, added a fun and scrappy border, I was totally in love. It really added such an interesting element! 

The original pattern has a border option, but just a plain solid one. I actually decided to make a version like Briana's this week but made mine 7.5" (unfinished) instead of the 4.5" she suggests, so this helps you see even this has room to be varied! 

But check out Briana's post below to see the story (and some good how-to's) behind her scrappy border. And find the Scrappy Triangle pattern in the Heritage Series quilt pattern in my shop!

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Hi guys! I’m Briana from Briana Luders Quilt Studio. I love a good, curated fabric quilt, but my heart truly belongs to the scrap quilt. When people hear the word “scrap” quilt, they often think of something that their grandma may have made. And you’re partially right! She probably did! 


Depending on how old you are, you grandma (or maybe her mom) probably lived during the Depression or a World War, when supplies were limited. My dad tells stories of his grandma collecting their old jackets to weave into rag rugs. Y’all. That’s awesome. I used to spend time growing up looking at old rag rugs trying to spot buttonholes or other signs that the fabric used to be something else. There is something beautiful to be said about making something new and beautiful from cast offs. 


Modern scrap quilts, though, can have this same charm, while remaining modern. That’s what I loved about Penelope Handmade’s new Heritage Series. They are vintage motifs, simplified for a clean feel. I started my version of the Half Square Triangle pattern by selecting my non-main fabrics first. When I go scrappy, I try to select fabrics with similar patterns. So, for this one, I went with plaids. Honestly, plaids are a hard pattern for me to work into quilts because the lines often compete with the quilt lines. The diagonal lines of the HST, though, worked with the plaids, so I decided to use up a bunch of my plaid scraps. Some of the fabric was fabric by the yard, others were upcycled button down flannel shirts.  Not every fabric has to be your *favorite* fabric, but it’s best select a few colors and stick with them. 


Then I selected my main color. And here’s where I got myself into the pickle that ultimately landed myself in this new design option for the HST pattern. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? Based on my scrap fabric choices, I knew I wanted to use this blue-gray fabric I’d had in my collection for months (unfortunately, I bought it as a remnant, so it looks like a cotton-linen, but I cannot confirm). Did I have as much as the pattern required? No. Did that stop me? Also no.

So I sewed the top and ran out of the main fabric after the HSTs. I tried to convince myself that this quilt was large enough without the border, but doesn’t this color scheme and plaid just cry to be a picnic blanket? I tried to picture myself having a picnic on a 56”x56” quilt, but knew it would be a tight squeeze. I have two toddlers and knew there would be a lot of “he’s in my part of the blanket!” and “her food spilled on my side!” Yeah, no thanks. 


So what to do? I could use one of my scrap fabrics for the border, but I didn’t have enough of any of them. I could introduce another fabric, but it would look out of place. Instead, I decided to make a scrap border, matching the border with the corresponding HSTs. The process is pretty simple. 


Here’s what you’ll need to cut:


(16) - 4.5” x 14.5” accent color rectangles

  • These should be cut to correspond with the blocks on the edges of the quilt
  • Note that the corner blocks need (2) 4.5” x 14.5” rectangles from the same fabric

(4) – 4.5” x 4.5” main color squares


Steps:


  1. Lay out the rectangles next to your assembled quilt top, ensuring that each scrappy border rectangle is next to its matching HST block. There should be (4) rectangles on each side of the quilt top.
  2. Place the (4) main color squares in the corners of the border. 
  3. Sew the (4) accent rectangles on each sides together to form 4 long border strips. 
  4. On the left and right sides, sew (2) main color squares to the top and bottom of your border strip.
  5. Complete step 14 of the pattern, by sewing top and bottom borders to top and bottom of top. Press seams out towards the border. Then sew left and right side borders onto the sides of the top.

Voila! Now you have a scrappy border! So whether you just love the look of a scrappy border, or simply refused to accept that you didn’t have enough fabric like me, this pattern hack is for you! It’s perfect for quarantine crafting, where you simply want to make the most out of what you have on hand. Enjoy!

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