Self-Bordering Technique

Self-Bordering is a technique that I use pretty frequently, though I don’t always know what I am doing. Basically, self-bordering means that you treat the border blocks the same as the blocks in the main part of the quilt. You piece them in as you would regular blocks rather than as a long row.

I don’t know if I made this technique up. I am sure others have done it. If they have, I am not sure what else it would be called.

There are several advantages to using a self-bordering technique for adding borders:

  • Precision is improved, because you are adding a block or so at a time
  • It makes it easier to get the border lined up correctly
  • Eliminates long lines of stitching
  • Makes adding pieced borders much easier

This technique works with Chunking. If you are sewing all your blocks, for the whole quilt, together in rows, then don’t bother with Self-Bordering.

En Provence - late October 2017
En Provence – late October 2017

As you have seen recently, I am working on the En Provence quilt by Bonnie Hunter. The border is optional, but I am putting a pieced border on the quilt using self-bordering technique. In the photo, left, you can see the border on the bottom. It is made up of one row of four patches (or 3.5″ squares) all the way around the quilt.

All the blocks in this quilt are, essentially, nine patches. As I sew the blocks together, I work in threes – I sew three blocks in a horizontal row together. Once I have three rows made up of three patches, I sew two rows together, then I sew remaining row to the set of two I have just sewn together.

On the border, there is an extra 3.5″ piece. It is either a 4 patch or a 3.5″ patch. Instead of sewing 3 rows of three blocks together, I sew 3 rows of 4 blocks together and then sew three rows of four patches together.

En Provence Corner Block
En Provence Corner Block

The corner block ends up looking fatter, because of the extra patches. Once the corner and border blocks are integrated into the quilt, they look like blocks and a pieced border.

You cannot tell which way a border was made, if it was well done.

I like this method because I don’t like putting on borders. I also really like pieced borders. Depending on the design, of course, they really add additional interest to a quilt.

En Provence corner block annotated
En Provence corner block annotated

Once I finish a quilt, there is really no way to tell where the blocks end and the border begins from a quick glance.

The top arrow, left, shows the very edge of the border – the seam line between block and border.

The bottom arrow shows the border.

As I have said, they integrate so well that a casual viewer can’t tell where the border is. I really like that.

Author: JayeL

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.

3 thoughts on “Self-Bordering Technique”

  1. I have to admit, I don’t remember if I’ve ever done a pieced border as it looks so daunting and I didn’t want to deal with fudging it to the blocks to fit. This technique makes it so much easier! Why didn’t I think of this before?! ? When I read self bordering in the past post I was guessing it was like this, but pieced borders didn’t even cross my mind. Thank you for sharing, the fog has lifted 🙂

    1. It seems really sensible to me so I am glad it seems sensible to others. I really don’t like those long seams – perhaps because of the space in which I have to sew them?- so adding blocks as borders seems so much easier.

      I know what you mean by pieced borders seeming daunting, but this method really makes them seem doable.

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