Thursday, January 30, 2020

Mitering a Border and a Goal Update

About a month ago, I (Teri) shared some of my stitching goals with you, in an effort to gain some accountability. You can read about them HERE.  I am happy to report that I have made some progress! Yesterday, I worked on the handout for our Woodland Reverie class at the upcoming Academy of AppliquĂ© in Williamsburg. This lovely dogwood blossom will be among the flowers we will be stitching in that class. I'm always happy when I can check that to-do item off my list and can get ready to assemble kits.

Today's task was to put a border on the Floral Elegance vase that we will be teaching at Baltimore on the Prairie in September. We had picked out the fabric last year at the Academy in the Huzzah Quilt Shoppe, thinking it would make a great frame for the block; the colors and design were perfect. During Kara's last visit, we played with the fabric, folding it so that it gave us the look we wanted. I snapped a photo of the layout for reference as I cut.

My friend Kristy has taught me the importance of recording the selvage of the fabric, so we can tell people what we've used—so here it is!

Mitering corners can be a bit intimidating, but with careful measuring (and a bit of practice), it need not be too frightening. I thought I would photograph my process, just in case you want a refresher. I will admit, this fabric required more thinking than normal, but I think it was worth it.

First, I squared up the block. Because I wanted a 15-inch finished block, I cut it at 15.5 inches square. It helped that I had a square cutting ruler of that size, so I could be sure my design was properly centered. Then I needed to press the wrinkles out of the wool background. I turned it upside down on my wool pressing mat and used steam.

I cut my strips 27 inches long. One of my favorite finishing books is Mimi Dietrich's Happy Endings. I always have it nearby for a reference when I am binding a quilt, but she also clearly explains mitering. Her formula: Double the width of the border, add four, and then add the length of the block. My border will be 3.5 inches wide, so I added 7 + 4 + 15 = 26. I added an extra inch for insurance. 

Cutting strips with such a definite design is a slow and careful process. I measure, but I also line my ruler up on the design, double checking to be sure I am staying consistent. It is the only time I use a rotary cutter in super slow motion.

Once I cut all my strips, I arranged them around the block and realized that the design is directional. I had to decide whether I wanted the vine to continue around the block, or if I wanted the opposing sides to be going the same way. I didn't want to cut more strips, and I didn't want to waste fabric, and I rather liked the look of the continuous vine, so I was ready to proceed. (And yes, I sent a photo to Germany to be sure I wasn't just being lazy. 😌 A second opinion is always a benefit!)

For a brief moment, I considered embellishing the border fabric—embroidering the vines, leaves, and maybe a few flowers. It didn't take me long to decide that the fabric was pretty enough without my help.

I pinned the two side borders in place and stitched them, leaving a quarter-inch at each edge of the block. Then I did the top and bottom, and I pressed the borders away from the block.

I folded the horizontal borders sides down at a 45-degree angle, using my ruler to measure that my corners were square and my diagonals were 45 degrees. Most rulers have a mark for checking your angles, which is useful. Then I pressed the folds carefully, continuing to check for accuracy.

I folded the block diagonally and lined up the borders. I pinned on either side of the pressed line, which would serve as my stitching line. You could darken it with pencil if you want.

I carefully pulled all the seam allowances away, so that I could start my seam without messing up my miter. I always place my needle down to be sure I can check my starting point before beginning the seam. I stitched carefully along the pressed fold. 

After I removed the pins and lay the piece out to be sure it was flat, I trimmed the seam allowance to a quarter-inch and pressed.

Four mitered borders

Before I layered it for quilting, I auditioned a possible binding. I will either use the green strip from this fabric, or choose a dark brown. What do you think?

Quilting is not really my thing, but I am planning to tackle hand-quilting this myself. It is a nice size to get some practice. We shall see.

I have gathered my materials, cut the borders, and printed the templates for my Baltimore Fraktur wall hanging. That is my next project, after I finish with...

...our cottages. Spring, summer, and autumn are stitched, and winter is in the works. Progress!

How are you doing with your stitching goals in this new year? Thanks for keeping me accountable! I couldn't do it without you. 


  1. Perfect miters on a perfectly gorgeous quilt! I love the fraktur so much. The colors are delicious! And your little houses make me want to go wool shopping!