Christmas Cactus Quilt Along Borders

It was recently brought to my attention that I still haven’t posted information about the borders, and my deadline for removing the Quilt Along posts is nearly here. Whoops! Remember, the block posts and PDF instructions will disappear January 1, so download them now if you’re interested. I’ll compile them into a single set of instructions and make it available for sale a little later.

First, however, here’s a link to the post for block 9. For some reason it doesn’t show up when you click the Christmas Cactus Quilt Along tag. I don’t know what the problem is, and since I’m taking the posts down soon, I’m not going to worry too much. Also, you can see and download the PDFs for ALL of the blocks on the Patterns page. Just click on the block to open the PDF.

Okay, on to the borders. I’ve always felt that borders are a matter of personal preference. I think a smaller quilt needs smaller borders, and a larger quilt needs larger borders. I read somewhere that your borders should share a divisor with the block size, and I think that’s a good guideline, but not a hard and fast rule. For example, if your blocks are nine inches, you could do borders in 1″, 1 1/2″, 3″ or 6″, but not 2″ or 4″. If you have an 8″ block, try borders of 1″, 2″ or 4″. 12″ blocks have a lot of options – 1″, 2″, 3″, 4″, 6″, 8″, etc. Bottom line, however, is that you should make your borders in sizes that look good to you. Start with these sizes, but don’t rule out something else if you like it.

For the Christmas Cactus quilt, I used two borders. First is a narrow “containment” border. Its purpose is to stop the movement of the blocks – to define where the center ends and frame the pattern. I always use a very plain fabric here – no noticeable prints, either a solid or something that looks solid from just a few feet away. The outer border is decoration, the inner border is function. I made my inner border the width of one of my squares within the block, so for a block that finishes at 4 1/2″, I made my border 1 1/2″ finished. It also looks good at 1″.

The outer border is a fabric that ties all of the colors in the center of the quilt together. I like to use a print with a good variety of colors. Because this is a print and I like to see all of the print, I make this quite a bit wider. Personally, I wouldn’t make the outer border any wider than the block, and I generally prefer it to be about 2/3 the size of the block. In my small quilt, with a 4 1/2″ finished block, my outer border is 3″ wide.

Here’s a quick list of my recommended widths for the borders, based on the size of your blocks. Remember, this is just a recommendation! Do what feels right for your quilt.

Block Size Inner Border Outer Border
3″ 1″ 2″
4 1/2″ 1 1/2″ 3″
6″ 2″ 4″
7 1/2″ 2 1/2″ 5″
9″ 3″ 6″

How you attach your borders is also a matter of personal preference. If you get all ambitious and do a mitered border, well, good for you. Personally, I like the simpler method. I sew the inner border on opposite sides, then on the other two sides. I repeat with the outer border, starting with the same two sides.

As for binding, well, you all probably know how to bind a quilt. I like to use a double layer (folded) binding for the sake of durability. I don’t do a bias binding unless the quilt has curves that require the stretch of bias.

So that’s it! Christmas Cactus Quilt Along instructions finished! If you’d like to share your photos, in progress as well as completed, please add them to my Piecemeal Quilts Projects group on Flickr. You can also send me an email or add a comment, and I’ll write a post with links to participants. I’d love to see how you’re doing!

PDF of the Border Instructions


One comment

  1. This is great information. I am going to keep it for future reference. Thanks so much for sharing your pattern. I am so excited about getting it quilted and seeing it year after year.

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