The Best Way to Square Up a Quilt

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In a quilt, many small pieces come together to form a beautiful whole. But in the process of sewing the pieces of the quilt together, you may inadvertently stretch fabric out of shape or sew a crooked seam. The resulting quilt top may not be square. In order for the quilt to lay flat and look its best, you'll need to square up the quilt. Do this before you add any borders.

Things You'll Need

  • Long acrylic ruler or yardstick
  • Fabric marker
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Lay your quilt top out flat on a large table or clean floor. With your acrylic ruler or yardstick, measure from one side of the quilt to the other across the middle of the quilt. Write down this measurement

  • Measure across the top and bottom of the quilt and note these measurements. In a square quilt, all these measurements will be the same. If the difference between the measurements is 1/4 inch or less, you can square up the quilt in the process of sewing on the binding. If the difference is more than 1/4 inch, you will need to trim the quilt.

  • Determine which of your three measurements -- top, middle or bottom -- was the smallest. You'll need to trim the rest of the quilt to match this measurement. Study the quilt to see if there is a noticeable difference in one side of the quilt or the other. Usually one side will be straighter. Trim the side that seems most crooked. If both sides are crooked, divide the difference in half and trim this amount from each side.

  • Lay your yardstick so one end of the stick is against the portion of the quilt with the shortest measurement. Make sure the stick is straight. Use your fabric marker to draw a line from this point along the side of the quilt. The result should be a straight line down the quilt. Repeat on the other side of the quilt if necessary.

  • Measure from one side of the quilt to the other, from the markings you just made. All three measurements should now be the same. If they're not, measure and mark the quilt again. Don't cut the quilt until all three measurements are equal from side to side.

  • Use scissors to trim away the fabric to the outside of the lines you drew.

  • Measure across the middle of the quilt vertically, and both sides of the quilt and compare these measurements. If the difference between the measurements are greater than 1/4 inch, mark and trim the quilt as you did along the sides.

  • Cut your borders for the top and bottom of the quilt the same length as your shortest horizontal measurement of the quilt. Pin the borders to the quilt top, right sides of the fabric together. If the difference between your measurements is 1/4 inch or less, ease the fabric by pulling slightly or pinning more loosely to make up for this difference. Attach the borders to the top and bottom of the quilt using a 1/4-inch seam.

  • Measure the quilt vertically, including the border on both sides and in the middle. Cut the side borders to a length equal to the smallest of these three measurements. Pin the borders in place, easing to accommodate any difference in the measurements.

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References

  • "Fat Quarter Friendly"; Leisure Arts; 2000
  • Photo Credit Steve Baccon/Photodisc/Getty Images
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