Putting It All Together – Finishing your quilt top

Here are some tips for finishing your quilt top.

The way we put blocks together can change the look of a quilt.

Chocolate Marshmallow Sampler Quilt | Finishing your quilt top

Finishing your quilt top: How you arrange the blocks can make a great deal of difference

Some blocks might scream to be sashed for example a sampler with large blocks, your choice of sashing will bring the quilt together. Identical blocks might create mind blowing secondary patterns by being set on point instead of side by side. Then there are the decisions about adding borders.

When I started quilting borders were mandatory you just always put one or two borders on a quilt, however the Modern Quilt Movement has steered us away from this.  Modern quilts tend to use a lot of a negative space to make their statement and there are no borders.  So how do you go about making these decisions?

Here are two quilts using the same blocks one set on point and the next sashed.  Because of fabric choices and the alternative setting the blocks look entirely different.

Alternative sampler setting | Finishing your quilt top different backgrounds

Finishing your quilt top: consider the arrangement of blocks


Quilt with shades of brown

Finishing your quilt top

I tend to design in my head, everything from blocks to borders and even how I will quilt it. I might then turn to EQ7 (quilting software) or just start pulling fabric and sew and see what I come up with. But you may just have an idea or a few random blocks to play with. What you need is a design wall. It doesn’t have to be fancy just a flannel sheet hung to a wall or cupboard will work. I have a moveable design wall set up in my sewing room it is made from a couple of large pieces of Corflute which are sheets of corregated plastic that I purchased from a hardware store. I joined two pieces of Corflute using duct tape so that I could fold the two pieces together like a book. I then covered the sheets with pelon. The size is large enough so that you can stand back and see how the blocks interact but you can still transport pieces and take them to a class. See Tarnya’s article for another option.

Corflute for making design wall

Design wall in action: Arranging your blocks for finishing your quilt top

Arranging your blocks for finishing your quilt top

Sensational Sets & Borders is a book I purchased many years ago, it is my go to book for tips and techniques. Published in 1998 you may be able to pick up a 2nd hand copy on ebay or amazon. Most of the quilts are a little old fashioned now but the information is still relevant to a modern quilter.

Sensational Sets and Borders

A couple of tips to putting your quilt together.

  • Press all your blocks carefully and square them up ensuring they are all the correct size.
  • If putting blocks on point make sure to cut set in triangles correctly by cutting a larger square into 4 triangles this ensures there are no bias edges on the outside of the quilt.
  • When adding borders, always measure through the centre of the quilt and cut the border to that length. Quarter both the border and quilt edge and pin the border in place and ease as you sew if necessary. Never sew a length of border to the edge of the quilt and chop off the excess your quilt  will never be square.
Amanda Bergamin

About Amanda Bergamin

Amanda has been quilting for 20 years and sewing most of her life having learnt from her mum and nana. She started Seabreeze Quilts about 5 years ago designing patterns for her etsy shop. Her favourite technique is needle turn applique, but she also uses machine applique, machine quilting (she quilts all her own quilts usually by machine) and machine piecing. No matter how long Amanda has been quilting she know the value of classes and learning from others. As well as teaching beginners classes, Amanda always makes sure to take at least one or two classes a year, as there hasn’t been a class she has attended where she has not learnt something new from the teacher or other students. Over the last two years she has run a free BOM on her blog seabreezequilts.blogspot.co.nz. Patterns for the month are available for free then up for sale in her etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/seabreezequiltsoz for a small price so you can catch up if you want to join in.

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