Tips & Techniques

If you have any tips or techniques that you would like to contribute, or questions that you would like answered, please drop us a note and we may include them here.

Applying Borders

After the body of the quilt has been pieced, gently press before adding borders. The logical place to measure the finished top is along its outside edges, and this is a useful measurement. However, measurements should be taken across the center in two or three places for both the width and length. If these measurements are different from that of the outer edge, accidental stretching has occured. To keep the finished quilt as straight and square as possible, you must measure the centers.

To make a border with straight-cut corners:

Determine the length of the quilt border by averaging the distance of two or three center measurements (Fig. 1). Cut two borders that length and pin them to opposide sides of the quilt matching ends and centers, and easing in the fullness. Sew and press.

To make mitered corners, consult a quilting book that contains instructions for finishing a quilt.

Determine the width of the quilt border by averaging the distance of two or three center measurements (Fig. 2). Cut these borders that length and pin - easing in the fullness. Sew and press.

Irregular Borders

Lisa received a question recently about scalloped borders. This technique works on any irregular borders.

"I am creating a larger quilt using a scalloped edge baby quilt in the center. I want to attach a normal flat edge strip to the scallop so that the center is still scalloped but the rest of the quilt will be square. How can I do this, or can you suggest a site that will show me how. I am stumped. I appreciate your help. Also, the quilt with the hummingbirds that you show on this site....did you create the pattern or is the pattern available? Loved it!" - Catrina C.

Dear Catrina,

Many years ago I made a Grandmother's Flower Garden (hexagons), and I wanted a straight edge, too. Since I had a plain quilt top, I first had to iron under all of the raw edges. Then I cut wide strips of border fabric and placed them under the quilt top leaving about 5-6" for the border, pinned every 2" or so, and used a hem stitch on the sewing machine to sew the quilt top to the border strips.

Since your project includes more thickness, you might use a wider zig-zag--it's hard for me to tell exactly what will work best without seeing it.

Finally, I turned the quilt over and trimmed away the extra fabric under the pieced quilt. Using this method, you would need to use a very thin batting under the baby quilt part so that it doesn't get too bulky to quilt.

As for the hummingbird quilt, I believe that a pattern was made for it, but I am not sure who carries it. I think that C&T also put out note cards with that quilt on them.




Lisa recommends using only bias binding. She has developed the following chart as a guide for estimating the size of the square needed to be cut to make enough binding.


Square @ 2-¼ Yield (inches of binding)

11" 36"

13" 66"

14" 72"

15" 80"

16" too much waste

17" 112"

18" 118"

20" 160"

24" 230"

27" 284"

Square @2-½ Yield Square @ 2" Yield

12" 46" 15" 98"

15" 75" 18" 148"

16" 85"

18" 129" Square @2-¾" Yield

19" 136"

22" 180" 20" 136"

24" 198"

Square @2-⅛ Yield

18" 144"

19" 154"

Lisa has tried many techniques over the years, and has recommended Liz Porter's unique Lumpless Finish for some time now. However, she will soon be posting a new method when she has refined the instructions.

(Note: Lisa does not normally bind quilts, other than those she makes and sells or on commission quilts. If you cannot do binding, she recommends that you contact a local quilting guild or business to find a reliable local binder. If you cannot find a local binder, Lisa will try to help you locate a reliable binder.)

QUILLOWS - How to make a "Quilt in a Pillow" (Lisa’s Version)

FABRIC REQUIRED: 2 yards of main fabric for the front 2 yards of coordinating fabric for the back, 5/8 yard main fabric for front and back of pocket, 2 yards batting for body of quillow, and 5/8 yard batting for the pocket.

First construct the pocket:

Lay the pocket batting on table with pocket fabric right sides together on top of batting. Pin on all four sides. Sew both sides and bottom of pocket, leaving the top open. Trim to 1/4" and turn right side out. Press the edges. Quilt the pocket by machine. Use circles, squares, diamonds, or other appropriate shape.

To construct the quillow:

Lay the batting on table (or floor) and put the backing fabric on it, right side up. Take the pocket and center it at the top of the quillow with the back of the pocket facing up. Pin pocket to backing and batting. Then lay the main fabric right side down, and pin across the top. Pin down the sides and across bottom. Use two pins together to mark the stopping and starting points, leaving an opening about 14" long for turning. Stitch around the quillow, leaving the opening in the side.

Turn quillow right side out by bringing corners through the opening. Remove pins from top of pocket. Press the edges of the quillow, and pin the opening shut. Hand stitch the opening shut.

Lay quillow on table with backing fabric face up. Pin the pocket in place down the sides. Stitch the pocket in place, reinforcing at top and bottom.

The Quillow can then be quilted or tied. Machine quilting holds up best, and can either be done on a standard machine, or Lisa can finish them for you.

If you want to use your own sewing machine to finish your quillow, use a walking foot (even feed foot), and mark a straight line from the bottom edge of the pocket down to about 12" from the bottom of the quillow.

Mark a parallel line from the other side of the pocket, and join the two lines with a straight line. (Chalk and a yardstick workwell, but if the chalk doesn't show up on the fabric, use a quilters' marking pencil, lightly). Stitch carefully down, across and up, taking care to keep the back smooth, without tucks.

If you are tying the quillow, use perle cotton or embroidery floss. Start 9" from the bottom and mark the center. Then mark 8" to the right and left, and another 8" to the right and left, making five ties across the quillow. Measure up 8" from this line and make five more ties as before. Continue till you are at the pocket line (usually six rows). A yardstick is very useful for this process. Quillows can be shortened to 1-1/2 yards, but do not diminish the size of the pocket.

Printed panels can be used for the pocket, but borders must be added to result in the correct size.

To Fold the Quillow:

Turn pocket right side out; quillow will be folded in thirds lengthwise. Fold up from the bottom about 18", then fold it again. Fold one more time, stuffing the folded quilt into the pocket. Smooth out the corners.


Machine wash (gentle/warm) Tumble Dry on Low Heat

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