To make a square border for a quilt, you usually start with the center and work out. That way, you are adding borders with “nice” numbers in the measurements. Numbers that are easy to cut, e.g. 18.5″ for a quilt side that is 18″ long when finished. To make a diamond border for a quilt, the numbers aren’t quite so “nice”! Instead of starting with the center and working out, you have to start with the border and work in.
So how do you make a diamond border for a quilt?
Brigitte made this gorgeous version of the Feathered Christmas quilt:
Instead of using the “dotted” border as in the pattern, she added a diamond border to her quilt (as seen in The Butterfly).
This is how she did it:
The original Feathered Christmas quilt measures 24″ x 28″. The center of the quilt, inside the “dotted” border, measures 18″ x 22″.
First of all, you need to decide how many diamonds you want to have in the borders – which will determine how long the borders are.
The diamonds in the diamond border are 1″ squares alternating with 2″ squares. When laid out as diamonds, the 1″ squares measure 1.414″ across, and the 2″ squares measure 2.828″ across. That means that the border will be 2.828″ wide (one 2″ square laid as a diamond).
To start and end a diamond border with a 1″ square and alternating 2″ squares, you’ll always need one more 1″ square than the number of 2″ squares. This table gives you the dimension for the lengths of border you can create:
Given that the size of the original quilt center measures 18″ x 22″, here’s one option:
It has 5 x 2″ squares down each side, with 6 x 1″ squares, making the center about 22.75″ high – also very close to the original quilt.
Brigitte went with one more 2″ square across the top and bottom borders, and one more 2″ square down each side – and then she added a 1″ wide solid border inside the diamond border:
How to piece the border
To piece the border, it’s much easier to turn the border and look at it as squares, rather than as diamonds:
For the 2″ squares, cut a strip of fabric 2.5″ x WOF (Width of Fabric).
For the background by the 2″ squares, cut 2 strips of fabric 2.5″ x WOF.
Stitch a background strip to each side of the square strip. Then cut the finished strip set into 2.5″ wide pieces.
For the 1″ squares, cut a strip of fabric 1.5″ x WOF.
For the background by the 1″ squares, cut 2 strips of fabric 2.5″ x WOF.
Stitch a background strip to each side of the square strip. Then cut the finished strip set into 1.5″ wide pieces.
Lay the pieces out as shown in the diagram above, alternating 1.5″ pieces with 2.5″ pieces. Start with a 1.5″ wide piece. Stitch a 2.5″ wide piece to it so that the top left hand corner of the 2″ square is butted up against the bottom right hand corner of the 1″ square. Continue adding each piece until your border is as long as desired! You will need to add a 2.5″ square of background to the top end of the border, and one to the bottom end of the border (see diagram above).
Now you need to trim the border. Using your rotary cutting ruler, align the 1/4″ mark with the corners of the 2″ squares. Cut away the excess using your rotary cutter. Repeat for the other 3 sides of the border.
How big should the center be?
I have found that when using diamond borders, it is MUCH easier to create the border first and THEN trim the center to match. That way, you’re not going to be trying to add a too-long border to a too-short center or a not-long-enough border to a too-long center.
For the version of the Feathered Christmas quilt without the solid border in between the center and the diamond border, it’s as simple as measuring the length of the diamond border and then trimming the center to match.
For the version of the Feathered Christmas quilt with the solid border in between the center and the diamond border, measure the length of the diamond border and then trim the center to match. Because you will be including a 1″ wide border all around the center before adding the diamond border, you now need to cut off 1″ on all 4 sides of the center. Cut your 1″ wide borders at 1.5″ wide.
Alternative diamond borders
What if instead of alternating 1″ and 2″ squares, you want to use all 1″ squares or all 2″ squares? Use the following tables to determine your measurements. There’s also a table for using 3″ squares and one for 4″ squares, just in case!
1″ squares diamond border:
2″ squares diamond border:
3″ squares diamond border:
4″ squares diamond border:
NOTE: All seam allowances are 1/4″ or 0.25″.