Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Borders for Your Little Quilts

I love making scrappy quilts with simple blocks and lots of different prints. Overall, I think scrap quilts work better if they're kept simple. I will sometimes use a busy print for the borders, but even then I tend to be conservative and often go with a smaller print or a calmer fabric so the border doesn't take away from the main part of the quilt and compete for attention. Decide whether you want the border to shine or the quilt center to stand out. A busy border print would not have worked on this quilt.

The busy floral border works on this quilt because the center is very simple.

If everything in the quilt is too busy, the eye won't know where to look and will dart back and forth between the center and the border. That's why I chose a relatively non-busy border for the quilts below. From a distance they almost look solid.

If your blocks are very scrappy and busy, inner borders can sometimes help the transition between the blocks and the border and pull the whole thing together.

Even with the inner border below, I still used a calm, non-busy border to make the scrappy center stand out more.

If you're familiar with my books you know that I often like to use 2 different prints for the borders of my quilts--old doll quilts were often made this way.

But it just doesn't work in the little quilt I made below. Believe it or not, I make mistakes sometimes (Horrors!). I just don't usually show you the bad ones, LOL. I think the border prints here are much too busy and compete with the blocks too much. I also didn't use enough contrast in two of the blocks. And that green stripe! What was I thinking?? This is why I stick with blue. I know blue. Blue is a friend of mine. But I love that pink and black print.

So I never finished the above quilt because I didn't like it and it just isn't right somehow. This is a really ugly little quilt! Maybe I should take the blocks apart and start over because I really like them, just not how I put the rest of it together. The different borders work much better in this one:

Antique quilts often were made without any borders. You can choose to go without a border . . .

 . . . or just add them on the top or sides for a fun accent.

I'm no expert, but I think I've learned a lot over the years just looking at quilts--both antique and modern--trying different things and coming up with what's pleasing to me. Make sure you audition your borders--try out several prints before you settle on one. Sometimes the one you least expect will be the one that works.


Jocelyn said...

I love all of these little quilts! They sure look great with the borders that you chose.

Julia said...

Love them all...I've just bought one of your books..
Julia ♥

Karen said...

I love your little quilts and recognize several from your books. You have a lot of wonderful information to share and I really enjoy reading about your quilting experiences. The little quilt you call ugly, really has cute blocks. The green does take away from the cute blocks though. I really like the borders too. I think you should take it apart and redo the setting blocks to your liking. When it's finished please post a picture for us to see.

antique quilter said...

great post and YES its true you have to keep auditioning the border to find the right now
I did that yesterday and as much as I wanted to put a red border on my quilt I had to go with a brown ! it just looked better and was the right choice
love the different fabrics in the border and no borders, many of my quilts have no borders now.
I LOVE your little green quilt
oh you have to finish it...
if not you can send it to me and I will treasure it and finish it!

Kathleen Tracy said...

I think I WILL take it apart and do something else with the blocks. They're too cute not to finish somehow.

Lori said...

I love your post. Sometimes we need to have things pointed out to us. So generally I am looking at the quilt as a whole but to look at the different ways you've done your borders was a real treat. Thanks!!

Meredith said...

Thanks for sharing your "mistake" with us. I really enjoyed this and your last post. The photos are great. I agree with what you said about being way too busy. I only made that "mistake " once. Sometimes with little quilts I am drawn to the ones without borders?

Anonymous said...

Just put the borders on "Underground Railroad" from American Doll Quilts. Really like it. Do you hand quilt or machine quilt your doll quilts?BettyLou

Kathleen Tracy said...

All of the little quilts in my first 3 books were quilted (simply) by hand. In the new book, there will be 3 small ones that are machine quilted and 3 that are hand quilted.

Vivian said...

I must gently disagree with one statement near the end of your post. You ARE an expert. Your advice and the choices you make are logical, explained simply and clearly, and you have reasons for what you did.
Add your lovely books and all the projects you've made and shared, and that, dear lady, is an expert expressing her opinion. I enjoy reading what you have to say, learning from your opinions, and I look forward to many more posts like this one.
Thanks for including so many little quilts as examples. Every one is fun to check out. (Bless the ability to click and enlarge photos on blogs!)

Shasta Matova said...

What a beautiful variety of quilts. They are all wonderful.

Heidi said...

Could you see my nodding my head in agreement? :-) I know most people think I make boring borders but it works. But that is because I love giving quilts an old look too. Sometimes adding a border makes it look to modern so I like leaving them off at times too. See...nodding in agreement. I am posting my blocks for your latest challenge on my blog and having great fun making the double pinwheels.

Hugs from Holland ~

Patty Nordahl said...

I have just recently discovered yur blog and have been reading some of the archives. I first must tell you I love your work and this weekend used your pattern to makes the triangles little quilt.. It was reading the post about "Little Quilts" and how you started that really touched me. The same book was my first quilt book and my first little quilt was the house fllag. I pieced and quilted it by hand and it still hangs on the wall in my kitchen. Thank you for all the information and examples you have given us of little quilts.

Pat Nordahl

Sharon said...

Thank you for sharing all of these inspiring little quilts! I just found your blog and realized that you are the author of some of my favorite books! Have a great day.

tami said...

I just found your blog and am so glad I did. All of your little quilts are beautiful. I am working on a wall of little quilts and I'm going to be visiting often.


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