The challenge with machine quilting motifs in borders is figuring out how to make them fit. There are two main issues and last week in Part 1, we tackled the question of how to handle the border corner areas. This week, we continue our series on machine quilting with part 2 considering how to distribute the motifs evenly over the length of each border.
Think of it as a basic equation with three components:
- The length of the border, excluding the corner areas
- The length of the motif to be quilted plus any spacing between the motifs
- The number of times the motif repeats along the length of the border
The equation looks like this:
(length of motif + spacing) x number of repeats = length of border
While it is true that some people design their quilts around the quilting, most of the time the length of the border is predetermined and fixed. This leaves two variables to work with: the length of the motif plus spacing and the number of times the motif repeats.
Option 1 – Start with the motif and calculate the number of repeats
- Measure the length of the borders without the corners. Square quilts will have four borders of equal length; rectangular quilts will have two side borders of one length and the top and bottom borders of a second length.
- Divide the border length by the motif length to determine the number of repeats.
- If necessary, round to the lowest whole number then divide the border length by the whole number. Adjust the motif to fit in this space either by enlarging the motif or adding space on either side.
Example: A quilt for a twin size bed has side borders of 75″ and top/bottom borders of 39″.
a) If the motif measured 3″, it would repeat 75/3=25 times on the sides and 39/3=13 times on the top and bottom.
b) If the motif measured 6″, it would repeat 75/6=12.5 rounded to 12 times on the sides and 39/6=6.5 rounded to 6 times on the top and bottom.
75/12=6.25″, so 1/4″ of spacing (1/8″ on each side) would need to be added to the motifs on the side borders.
39/6=6.5″, so 1/2″ of spacing (1/4″ on each side) would need to be added to the motifs on the top and bottom borders.
Option 2 – Start with the number of repeats and calculate the motif length
- Measure the length of the borders as before.
- Divide the border length by the number of repeats to determine the motif length.
- Find or design a border motif to fit this space.
It is sometimes suggested that these mathematical calculations can be avoided by taking a long strip of paper equal to the length of the border and folding it to determine the number of repeats. This approach would work best with an even number of repeats such as two, four, eight or sixteen when the paper can be folded in halves. Folding the paper accordion-style into odd numbers will inevitably involve some of the same math!
Option 3 – Perfect Borders.com
If all this calculating seems too much trouble, there is another option available. Perfect Borders.com is an online service for designing quilting motifs to fit any size border, perfectly. You enter the dimensions of your borders,
select an image to use as your quilting motif,
and Perfect Borders.com makes it fit.
When you’re satisfied with your border design, you pay online ($10-$15, depending on your design), then download the full size design as a PDF file, which you can print and save. I used Perfect Borders.com to design the borders on the quilt Butterfly Kisses.