The perfect square quilt

Oh how we wish!

I saw a discussion on Facebook today about squaring quilts so I thought I would post a brief post on my thoughts.

The best way to achieve your goal of a near perfect square quilt is keeping it square throughout the whole process of quilt making

  • Make sure you have a constant 1/4′ seam as you sew
  • Measure your blocks as you go and square each block to one size
  • When adding rows make sure each row is the same size
  • Don’t torture the block with a steam iron and distort the pieces.
  • Don’t be afraid to use starch
Now it should be easier to attach the borders. Here are some hints for adding borders.
  • Never cut a border to the size as per the pattern. Always measure through the middle of the quilt, lengthwise and widthwise. Record that measurement.
  • If you are using one fabric for the borders, try to cut the border from the length of the fabric, not the width. More fabric yardage is involved but there is less stretch.
  • Pieced borders should be handled with care. Starch up well and do not stretch. If you are working with bias edges, stay stitch the edges.
  • Once borders are applied, do not stretch them with ironing or hanging.
How to apply a border to a ‘not so square quilt’.
Sometimes the quilt skews as the measurements of the opposing sides are are not equal. This needs to be corrected.

I prefer not to take measurements at intervals within the quilt and average. This still leaves distortion in the length or width of the quilt. What we need to achieve, is the illusion that the quilt measures the same from top to bottom, side to side. To so this:

  • Fold the quilt in half lenghtwise and find the midpoint.
  • Take the top border and find its midpoint.
  • Place the a border strip, that is wider than the quilt,  through the centre of the quilt matching midpoints and then pin in the middle and on either side. The border piece must lay flat and not be stretched to fit.
  • Draw a straight line for each side pin point.
  • Cut on this line
  • Repeat for the bottom border.

Attaching the borders

If the quilt is not square then we have to ease the borders onto the quilt.
  • Find the midpoint of the quilt and the border and pin
  • Pin at each end.

If the quilt top is bigger, there will be a wave of fabric that needs to be evenly distributed. To do this:

  • Find the midpoint between the middle and side pin and pin.
  • Then find the midpoint between that pin and the centre.
  • Repeat this process until the quilt is evenly distributed between the pins.

Attach the border in this order.

Order of joining borders.
Hint: If your pieced borders are too large or too small then always make adjustments in the centre of the border. This way if there are decorative corner blocks it does not distort their shape.


  1. says

    I have a couple of things to add, if I may. I've made several hundred quilts, most with borders! I've found that after measuring and pinning the borders, I don't cut the border fabric. Sometimes, even with all the easing, you just need another quarter inch. Its nice to have it there. Once the borders are attached, then I cut off the excess. Also, I recommend cutting the borders and binding FIRST from the lengthwise grain of the fabric before cutting all the little pieces for the inner quilt. Then you're sure to have nice long pieces to work with.

    thanks for the Tute!

  2. says

    Great tutorial! Thanks I love when people explain the mechanics. As many quilts as I have made I still want to understand construction better.

  3. says

    Thanks for that – some great tips! I think you're so right in saying that you have to check all the way through that everything is right!

  4. says

    What a great post! Lots of great information and Thanks for bringing it all together. It is a great help to measure along the way while you are making your quilt so at the end you aren't frustrated when things don't fit.

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