Our sashing is on, and the quilt is starting to look like a quilt top! However, it’s not quite big enough for a Quilt of Valor. An easy way to frame the blocks and make the quilt bigger is to add borders.

The second, or outer border, in our original schematic, is 4 inches wide all the way around.

This is a pretty easy part of the project, but please still approach it with care. If you take good care with your fabric and seam allowances, and take time to press and pin, your border will turn out much nicer.

The quilt design with 2 borders

Press your Fabric

Press your fabric. I use starch, to prevent stretching while sewing. The starch is optional, but the pressing is necessary to get a clean finish on your border.

Press border fabric before cutting

Cut your Border Strips

Inspect your fabric for flaws, in case you need to cut around a section.


  • Four strips: 4.5 inches wide, at least 70.5 inches long (I recommend making them longer and trimming later).

It would be awful to cut this border too short! And so, I just cut them the entire length of my fabric, and leave the trimming for later, after I pin the border strips on the top.

Cutting Tip

Remember to cut away selvedges before cutting your strips. If selvedges are left in the seam allowances, they will shrink oddly and make the finished quilt turn out weird. I found some selvedge left on the back of one of my strips, so I cut a new strip, before pinning on and sewing.

Pin the Long Border Strips

Pin the long sides first. These are supposed to go down the long side of your quilt top – the one with 4 blocks on it.

If you are wondering why to go through the extra trouble of laying the quilt top flat and pinning the strip to it, rather than just add it when you are at your machine: the answer is, it’s a choice. You could do it the other way. If you add the border at the machine, and then add another border the same way, every border will get stretched a little more than the previous one, to the point where your quilt will not lie flat. It will have a wavy edge.

Pinning before sewing prevents the wavy edge and helps your quilt top lie flat.

Pin the long sides first.

Now that you’ve pinned it, cut away that excess fabric.

Cut away excess fabric

Repeat the same pinning step for the other long side of the quilt top.

Sew and Press

Sew both strips to your quilt top.

Press your seams to one side.  I chose to press them to the dark side, but it won’t really matter once I add the batting, since that is white.

Square Up the Corners

This is another small but important step to making sure your quilt top is square. Be sure the corners are square. This isn’t about making sure the entire quilt top is a rectangular parallelogram; instead, it’s just about making sure every corner of the quilt is square enough that the project will lay flat once you sew on the next set of borders.

As you can see here, it would be off a little if I didn’t do the square-up step, and that would really show up in the quilt top.

Square up the corners

Pin the Wide Border Strips

Now, two sides are done. Two left to go!

Lay your quilt out flat, and pin your last two 4.5″ border strips to the top and bottom of your quilt top. I did this, but forgot to take that photo, so here it is pinned, but laying on my ironing board. I did lay it out flat to pin it like all of the other border strips.

Pin the last two sides

Pinning the seam allowances down will help the top come out nice and flat.

Trim away excess fabric, again

Repeat the same pinning and trimming step for the other wide side of the quilt top. You’ll have pinned both the top and the bottom.

Sew and Press

Sew both strips to your quilt top.

Press your seams to one side. 

Press seams to one side

Square Up the Corners

Again, make sure square up the corners. Then your quilt top will be nice and square and ready for finishing!

Square up the corners one last time

The Second/Outer Border is On!

The quilt top is done!

The quilt top is done. Yay!

It fits almost perfectly across the top of my queen-sized guest bed.

Final Steps

Now that the quilt top is done, it’s ready for:

  • Quilting
  • Binding
  • Adding the Label