Why Your Quilt Borders are Wavy & How to Fix Them

Finishing a quilt only to discover the borders don’t lie flat can be a huge disappointment, but it doesn’t mean your project is a failure. Make these simple adjustments to achieve smooth borders every time.

Choose Quilting Carefully

Image via keepsakequilting.com

Quilting patterns flowing in one direction can distort the shape of the quilt top. Stick to quilting with a back-and-forth flow or patterns moving in multiple directions.

Avoid concentrating tight stitching in the center of the quilt, as this makes the fabric more likely to pucker. Adding some quilting to the border can help even out a finished piece with an ornate center pattern.

Measure First

Image via quiltyfolk.blogspot.com

Before starting on the border, measure the quilt top vertically and horizontally at the center point. Differences greater than one to two inches suggest the quilt is narrower in the middle than at the edges, and your border will require some adjusting to lie flat.

Squaring up your blocks as you go can minimize the chances of winding up with an “hourglass” quilt. Measure border fabric carefully, and double-check the measurements before cutting.

Don’t Be at Ease

Image via shop.mybluprint.com

Easing or stretching border fabric to fit an uneven quilt edge is a shortcut you don’t want to take. It’s simply an attempt to make up for an excess or a lack of border fabric.

You’re better off measuring multiple times and doing a few calculations to ensure you have just the right amount before sewing the border on. In the end, this takes less time than ripping out and redoing a wavy border.

Block it Out

Image via coinaphoto.com

Should your border be wavy even if you do everything you can to prevent it, blocking could save the day.

Remove the quilt binding, and lay the quilt out flat on a hard surface. Measure the corners, squaring them up to 90 degrees and taping them in place. Tape the rest of the border down until the quilt lies flat. Mist the stubborn spots with water, and hold a hot iron just above the surface to steam block the waves out of the fabric. Wait until the quilt is completely dry before removing the tape.

It can take time to master the perfect quilt border, but once you get the hang of making projects lie flat, you’ll spend much less time correcting errors and be able to move on to your next quilt without hassle.

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