SAL5 - Don't Use Humpback Borders!

Dear Ruthanna,


This is the fifth in the series of emails based on Ruth Grihalva's April Power Point presentation to the String-A-Long Quilt Guild in Porter County Indiana. The title was "Piecing Hints, Tips & Longarming Issues."

Her comments are based on our experience with over 10,000 longarmed quilts in our 20 year history. Additionally, Ruth has published over 160 patterns, three books, and two tools under the nom de plume of "Raggedy Ruth Designs."

However, these newsletters are written by her husband, me. I am writing these from Ruth's presentation notes. Nonetheless, I will be sprinkling my ideas in also.

SAL5 - Don't Use Humpback Borders!

Diagonal seams on borders are elegant! And, I believe that they are stronger because forces are disbursed along the diagonal which involves many threads, instead of being focused on a few threads, as is the case with 90 seams.

So, why am I bringing this technique up? It turns out that diagonal seams can have a substantial effect in creating full, or "lettuce leaf" borders.

In the illustration, above, the top diagonal seam is straight and the seam angle is 45. The bottom illustration shows a diagonal seam that is not 45 and curves upward in the middle and downwards at the edges. The difference doesn't really show well, but it is more noticeable when long to be attached to a quilt.

This "hump" adds extra fabric to the border and doesn't allow the quilt and borders to lay flat over the entire run of the border. I find this interesting because it isn't very noticeable while you are making the border. The implication of that is that you can't just "slap the border on," but, you must take professional care in making and attaching the borders

The basic steps on creating or fixing a border with a diagonal seam are:

  • Cut the border material straight, using long rulers, a rotary cutter, and a cutting mat. Make sure that you are cutting enough to either: allow for the squaring-up the ends; or, making mitered corners.

  • Lay the two border strips overlapping a bit more that the amount of fabric needed for the 45⁰ angled cut , finished side up.

  • Use a long ruler to assure that the strips are in alignment.

  • Put a 45⁰ ruler on the overlapping sections, resting the triangle ruler on the long ruler to assure that the angle is 45⁰ to the border.

  • Make the 45⁰ cut through both thicknesses of fabric at the same time.

  • Pin the seams multiple times.

  • Sew the seams with a quarter inch seam allowance.

  • Press the seams in the appropriate direction(s) .

Now you'll have a straight border piece with a perfect 45 diagonal seam that will not cause fullness in the borders.

What's Next?

The newsletter prefixed "SAL06" will be on "What To Communicate With Your Longarmer". See you then!

If you would like to have Ruth give a presentation or workgroup to your organization, please let me know by email to [with your complete contact information, please] or by phone at 567.208.3572, my mobile.

Al Fin

I trust that this was of assistance or interest. If you have any questions that need to be answered, on this or other longarming or quilting topics, then please write to me at or call 219.255.8085.

Thank you for your time and interest.
May The Lord Richly Bless You!
Rick & Ruth Grihalva
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