How to Cut Borders for Quilts


The most popular border for a quilt is a straight sewn border, also known as a butted border. This simply means that a straight piece of fabric is sewn along both sides, then the top and bottom edges. The top and bottom border strips extend past the quilt top and cover the bottom edges of the side border strips. All border strips are cut from a continuous piece of fabric so no seams are present. The quilt top must be measured prior to purchasing the border fabric.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Fabric
  • Rotary cutter
  • Rotary cutting ruler
  • Rotary cutting mat

Measure and Plan

  • Determine the width of border desired and the width of the fabric needed for the border. For example, a 4-inch border is desired to complete the quilt top. Each border piece is cut 5 inches wide to allow for a 1/2-inch seam.

  • Measure the length and width of the quilt. Figure the length of border fabric needed by adding the width of the quilt plus the dimensions of the two side borders. For example, the length of the quilt is 60 inches and the width of the quilt is 45 inches. Add 8 inches, 4 inches for each border strip, to the width of the quilt - 45 plus 8 equals 53 inches. Check to make sure the width is not larger than the length. If it is, use the width dimension for border fabric purchase. This particular example requires a piece of fabric 60 inches in length.

  • Purchase a piece of border fabric that is adequate to create the border strips. Use the dimensions determined in Steps 1 and 2. The example shows that a piece of fabric is needed that is 20 inches wide and 60 inches long. Purchase 2 yards of border fabric for a 45 by 60-inch quilt top.

  • Lay the border fabric on a flat surface. Do not unfold the fabric. Smooth out all wrinkles. Cut the selvage edge from the length of the fabric. The selvage edge is the manufactured rough edge.

  • Fold the length of the fabric up twice matching all cut edges and the folded edge.

  • Place the folded fabric on the rotary cutting mat. Position the rotary cutting ruler along the cut selvage edge. Place the ruler at the desired border width. Cut four strips at the desired dimension. For example, a 4-inch border is desired. The width of the border strip is 5 inches to accommodate for 1/2-inch seams on both sides of the border. Position the rotary cutting ruler at 5 inches.

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