Colourful quilt on paving stones

How to sew perfect mitred borders

A mitered border can give your quilt that professional touch to make it stand out from the crowd.

It is particularly effective when using striped fabric, a diagonally or vertically strip pieced border, or with directional designs.

Precision is of the essence, both to get the corners to match up perfectly, and to get all pieces to lie flat

Examples of mitered borders

Colourful quilt on paving stones
    Colourful strips sewn together and then cut into a border will frame a simple quilt very effectively. It is important to note this works best if your strips fit on to the edge of the quilt precisely.
Blue quilt on wall with pink flowers
In this example the white strip, as well as the blue printed strip, were joined before being attached to the edges.

Tip: If your strips are a bit too short, add a contrast to the ends – that way you get an extra design element in the form of little squares forming in the corners. Pretend that you planned it that way 😉
Pink and blue quilt

The semi circles on this border meet up perfectly to form three-quarter circles on the corners. You can use a small border between the quilt centre and the important part of the border (like the semi circles here, and the strip pieced border in the first example) to get the size of the centre correct for a visually pleasing join in the corners.


Before you start

  1. Make sure your quilt top is flat and square. If the sides are a bit wavy, stay stitch with a long stitch length. Place your seam just inside the ¼ inch line, so this stay stitch will not be visible. Press after stitching.
  2. Measure twice, cut once!
  3. Clear your worktable so you can lay things completely flat. This is especially important if you have a large quilt top.
  4. Precision stitching is key – make sure everything is laying flat and that you sew exactly to the mark, not one stitch short or one stitch over.

First: cut the border strips

To mitre the corners on your borders, you need to allow extra length for borders. For each side, calculate as follows:

length of side + (width of total combined borders x 2) + 3 inches

Prepare your borders. If your border is made up of multiple horizontal strips, join them all to form one strip. Make sure you piece consistently – use a quarter inch foot.

Press all seams to one side, and make sure the seams are fully rolled out. You could also opt for open seams, for the sake of accuracy.

Now: we piece the borders together

On the corners of the quilt top, on the wrong side, mark a crosshair ¼ inch from the edges.

Step 1

Mark the centre of each strip with a pin.

Quilt with marked fabric strip

Step 2

Pin the centre of one strip to the centre of a side of the quilt. Pin to the end of the side, making sure to pin to the crosshair.

hem attached to fabric with needle
hem attached to corner of quilt with needle

Step 3

Sew – start a few mm past the crosshairs, reverse until your needle goes EXACTLY into the cross, and then sew forward. You may have to manipulate your stitches to get this right. Your stitching must start and end exactly on the crosses, and must be reinforced. Sew with the border at the bottom and the quilt top at the top.

Step 4

Repeat with all sides. On the quilt top side the stitching should meet exactly. When sewing towards a corner that is already attached to a border, fold the border away from the quilt top and pin out of the way, so you do not catch the border with your stitches when you approach the corner.

quilt corner with needle on sewing machine

Step 5

Press seams towards the quilt. Fold one corner of the quilt into a 45 degree angle. The intersection of your crosshair mark, where your stitching has met, is the start of the fold.

The join of the border to the quilt, as well as any other joins of subsequent border sections, must lie exactly onto each other. Arrange this for a good half a metre from the corner and pin in many places. The border strips will extend beyond the fold – make sure the joins align on these pieces too, and pin.

different quilt pieces attached with needles
quilt corner sewn together

Step 6

Flip the corner seam allowance up so you can see your stitching where it connects with the cross hair marking. Position your quilt ruler: the long edge lining up with the fold and the 45 degree line on your ruler lining up with the outer edge of the border. Draw a line on the border – it should start exactly where the crosshairs crossed and your stitching met, and extend to the cut edge of the border. This is your stitching line.

Ruler, pen and fabric marked with pins
Ruler and fabric marked with pins

Step 7

Sew on this line, starting exactly on the spot where your seams ended when you joined the borders to the quilt top. Sew on the line all the way to the edge of the borders.
fabric and hem attached with needles

Step 8

Open up the corner and see if it lies flat and all the strips of your borders meet with accurate points. If so, trim the excess.

corner of quilt

Step 9

Press seam flat and then open.

corner of quilt ready to be sewn

Repeat with remaining corners. Now stand back and admire your work!

More from Quilt Club

You might also like

Back to top