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Small Borders, Huge Impact

By Addy Harkavy, Pinetree Quiltworks.

Ever finish a center medallion or a set of patchwork blocks and think you're ready for borders or something different but don't know quite where to go?

A very narrow strip between the central part of the quilt and the borders or additional blocks that will surround it can focus and pizzazz to your center while permitting you to change gears (a little or a lot). Solid black is often stunning, but bright and pale fabrics can work, too. The narrow band frames the center and gives the eye a break before it goes on to the next section of the quilt. It's a great way to change gears between triangles and squares or hexagons and other shapes, and it can separate one kind of blocks (e.g. Ohio Stars) from a pieced or block border (such as log cabin blocks). Such a transitional frame can be very narrow, no more than 0.5" to 0.75" works nicely in many cases.

Another way to use this technique is to finish a small quilt by using a solid border (black, for example) that's a couple of inches wide, then a very skinny contrasting border, and then another solid border that's slightly wider than the inner solid border. You could even piece a variety of bright or pale fabrics in the skinny middle strip or alternate contrasting pieces with the same color as the two wider (black in this example) borders to make a ladder or checkerboard effect.

If you're in doubt about the effect these frames would have, just fold long piece of fabric alongside your center medallion or group of blocks and play with alternatives until you find something that has the effect you're looking for.

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