8 Modern Quilt Border Ideas You’ll Want to Make!

Not all quilting borders are outdated! Get inspired by these modern quilt order ideas and use the quilt border designs for your next quilting project!

Quilting borders are one of those things that many modern quilters discount as a possibility before even trying. I gotta be honest, I am not one to make quilting borders often, either.

That’s exactly why I thought I would challenge myself creatively and come up with modern quilting border ideas that even contemporary quilters would consider trying.

And let me tell you, I’ve got some great quilt border designs for you!

Whether you’re looking for ways to add some inches to your finished quilt top, or feel like it’s a bit boring and want some added visual interest, I’ve got 8 modern quilt border ideas that you’re going to love!

But before we get into the actual quilt border designs, let’s look at some of the basics.

What are quilt borders?

Quilt borders refer to the fabric strips or panels that are added to the outer edges of a quilt top to frame and finish the quilt. Borders serve both functional and aesthetic purposes in quilting:

  1. Frame the quilt: Borders provide a visually pleasing frame for the central quilt design, enhancing its overall appearance and making it look more complete.
  2. Size adjustment: Borders can be used to adjust the size of the quilt top. If the quilt top is smaller than the desired finished size, adding borders can help achieve the desired dimensions.
  3. Stabilization: Borders add stability to the quilt by preventing the edges from stretching or distorting during the quilting process and throughout its use.
  4. Design element: Borders offer an opportunity to introduce additional design elements, such as complementary patterns or colors, that can enhance the overall theme of the quilt.

How to sew quilt borders?

The process of sewing the quilt borders will depend greatly on the design you choose (more on that in a bit). But the general idea is pretty much the same with all border styles.

Step 1: Square up

Always, start off with a squared-up quilt top. This way you know you’ll be able to attach the borders nicely and evenly.

Step 2: Measure

Measure the width and end length of your quilt top. I recommend measuring in the middle of the quilt top because the measurements at the edges might be a bit distorted.

Step 3: Prepare your border strips

Cut long strips of fabric of the desired width. As for the length of the strips, you’ll need:

  • 2 border strips that are as long as the length of the quilt top
  • 2 border strips that are as long as the width of the quilt top + 2 widths of the border strip

If your quilt top is wider or longer than the width of the fabric you’re working with, cut multiple strips and sew them together to get the long strips of the required length.

Step 4: Attach the strips

Attach the first 2 border strips to the left and right side of the quilt top. Cut off any excess fabric. Then attach the remaining border strips to the top and bottom side of the quilt top.

I recommend you pin the strips before actually sewing them on. This will help you keep an even seam and avoid any pulling and stretching of the fabrics.

Voila! That’s it. Your borders are attached.

How to miter quilt borders?

If you’re feeling super adventurous you can miter the quilt borders. This means the seam connecting the vertical and horizontal borders is at a 45-degree angle.

There’s a bit of a learning curve that comes with mitered quilt borders, but I’ve found a great tutorial, that will show you how to do it. You can read the tutorial here.

8 Modern Quilt Border Design Ideas

Now that we’ve covered the basics of quilt borders, we can jump right into the fun stuff. Here are 8 quilt border ideas that even modern quilters will love!

One-Piece Quilt Border

The simplest way to add a border to a quilt top is by simply adding a strip of fabric to all four sides. You can add a plain solid fabric or a print that coordinates well with the quilt top.

I usually do this when I work with a pattern and want the make the quilt a bit larger. I actually did it with the first quilt I ever made, which was this Quilty Hearts quilt (designed by Quilty Love). I used the same stripey fabric I used in the quilt top and I think it works really well as a frame to the quilt top design!

How to do it?

Follow the mini step-by-step tutorial to attach the border strips to the quilt top.

Now if you think one-piece borders are boring, there are many ways to umph this up a bit. The plain (solid) piece of fabric is the perfect place to show off some fancy quilting – even if you’re quilting at home with your walking foot. Check out our 11 Straight Line Quilting Designs for some ideas. 

Also, Paige from the Quilting Temple has some great options that are created specifically for quilt borders. Check out her tutorial here.

Multiple Borders

Of course, you can have a play with these one-piece quilt borders if you want to add additional visual interest! You can add as many borders as you like, playing with the fabrics and the widths of the strips that you use.

How to do it?

The process of adding multiple borders to your quilt top is exactly the same as with the one-piece quilt border. You’ll just repeat everything multiple times.

When adding multiple borders, make sure you keep everything balanced. Adding too many borders (or borders that are too wide) could take all the focus away from the quilt top. And we don’t want that, right?

Piano Keys Quilt Border

Piano Keys is a classic quilt border layout and one of the simplest to make. All you need to do is sew together strips of fabric of the desired size. Usually, all strips used are of the same size, but you can absolutely get creative and use any size you wish.

How to do it?

If you’re using fabric scraps, first make sure they are all the required size (make sure you add the ¼’’ seam allowances when calculating!). Square them up if required. Then, just sew them in a long line of ‘piano keys’ until you get the required length.

Alternatively, you can speed the process up by strip piecing. Sew strips of fabric of the same length together to create strip sets. Then, cut them up into equal sections and sew these strip sets together into ‘piano keys’. The result is exactly the same, but this method should save you quite some time!

There are different ways to create the corners of the piano keys quilt borders. You can just sew 4 long strips and attach them to the quilt top as you see in the illustration above.

Another fun way that I like is creating this ‘offset corner’ as illustrated below. I think it creates a nice balanced finish.

Shifted Piano Keys Quilt Border

This is kind of a fancy version of the classic piano keys quilt border I talked about earlier. Shifting the fabric rectangles up and down (or left and right) creates an added visual interest. This is why this is perfect for when you want some extra movement on your quilt borders.

How to do it?

If you’ll only be using a few different colors, this quilt border can be easily achieved using the strip piecing technique. Take one large rectangle and sew it to the (background) narrower strip. Then, cut into units of the desired width. Using all your units, create the desired layout (alternating the orientation of the pieces) and sew them together.

If you want to use a bunch of different fabric pieces, you can follow this tutorial by Sew Lux Fabric. It’s a tutorial for a quilt top, but the process is exactly the same!

Solid Squares Quilt Border

Another fun way to add some interest to your borders without taking away from the quilt top is creating a border from solid squares. This is one of those simple but effective quilt border ideas. I really like it because it adds just enough visual interest, but it is still simple enough that it’s still perceived as ‘the border’.

How to do it?

Similar to the piano keys quilt border, you can do this two ways. You can either start with individual pieces of fabric. I recommend using a precut pack, like a charm pack for this. Or alternatively, if you’ve been saving up some scraps and diligently cutting them all to the same square size (as one should, right?), use those instead. Sew them together and voila!

Of course, you can also achieve this with strip piecing, which is great if you have a jelly roll or strips of fabric you want to use. Either way, the results can be amazing!

Improv Quilt Border

This is probably one of my favorite modern quilt border ideas. It’s easy to make, fun and adds the perfect amount of movement to the quilt design.

How to do it?

To create improv quilt borders, simply sew together pieces of fabric into long strips. Use whatever you have on hand and sew them together at different angles to create the desired ‘wonky’ effect. As you’re sewing make sure you’re still getting a more or less straight strip of fabric.

Once you’ve sewed the desired length, you’ll want to trim off the wonky edges so you get an even fabric strip. Attach to the quilt top and you’re done!

Half-Square Triangle Border

Depending on the quilt top you’re working with, HSTs can actually be a great option for quilt borders. Because of their geometry, they can be a bit more ‘distracting’ than the simpler rectangular shapes. That’s why I would recommend sticking to low-contrast fabrics, something that doesn’t take the focus away from the quilt top.

How to do it?

Well, you basically need lots and lots of HSTs. Follow our Half Square Triangle Tutorial and choose the method that fits you best. Since you’ll be needing quite a few, I suggest you use the 8-at-a-time HST method. 

Use the Half Square Triangle Calculator to get the required size of the starting squares. And then – sew away. Once you have the required number of HSTs, sew them together into 4 long ‘strips’ and sew them to the quilt top (as you would with the basic one-piece border).

Flying Geese Quilt Border

Similarly to the HST quilt border idea, the flying geese can be a great block to create the quilt borders. Again, you’ll want to be careful not to take the focus away from the design of the quilt top. But if you stick to low-contrast colors and fabrics that coordinate with the quilt top, you should be fine.

How to do it?

To create the flying geese quilt border you’ll start off with a bunch of flying geese, of course. Follow our Flying Geese Tutorial and use the Flying Geese Block Calculator to calculate the required sizes f your starting fabric pieces.

Then it’s up to you how you’ll arrange them. You can use the perhaps more classic layout and arrange them one after the other (with the longer sides together), or place them one next to the other (with the shorter sides together). The options are endless, really.

Sew them into the required strip lengths and sew them to the quilt top.

What do you think? Have I convinced you to try adding a quilt border to your next quilt project? Do you have a modern quilt border idea you like to use? Tell me everything in the comments below!

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