Mitred Borders and Bias

As promised, here’s a how-to on what I’m doing for the applique round of our Medallion Quilt Along.  Everything here is just how I do it; you may have a better/different way, that’s fine – there are no rights or wrongs, just what suits you.  Hope it’s helpful.

I’m using my centre as inspiration.  The “stems” on the centre panel are ½” wide so I’m making ½” wide bias from my plain blue fabric.

I’ve folded the selvedge up along the cut side to create a 45 degree angle.

Then, folding along that folded edge until I can comfortably use a ruler, I cut 1″ strips (double the finished side of the bias).  (The first cut – on the fold – is actually at ½”, because the fold gives a 1″ cut.)

Taking this strip to the ironing board, I also need a flower head pin and a ½” bias maker.  Please note NEW ironing board cover – bought just for you!!  (It’s not like the old one was in desperate need of replacement – much!)

Turn the bias maker over and insert the bias strip into the wide end of the bias maker, right side of fabric facing you.

Turn bias maker over and using the flower head pin, ease the fabric out the narrower end.  (Bit hard to take photo and hold everything – hope you get the idea!)

Over fold the first bit that comes out of the bias maker and secure with the flower head pin into the ironing board.

With the nose of the iron against the narrow end, pull gently on the handle and follow with the iron.

Make sure the fabric strip stays evenly placed at the wider end.

Wrong – off to one side                  Right – evenly placed


Continue down the length of the bias strip.  Bias will look like this as it comes out

and this on the right side

See?  Lovely and even!  If your fabric doesn’t want to play nicely, try spraying with a fabric starch – this one is really good – before putting through the bias maker

(Available from all good quilting shops.)

To keep your bias neat and tidy until required, wrap around an empty thread spool and secure with a small pin, like an applique pin.


Next I need to put some borders on my quilt top.  This is a bit of a Goldilocks process….

Oh no!  Too small!

No, No!  Too big!

Ah! This one looks just right!  As my blocks are 6″ finished, a 9″ finished border will look good (6 and 9 being compatible numbers).  Just to check, I laid out some bias

Yes, enough room to manoeuvre a nice curve!

My borders are going to need mitred corners to cater for the  applique I have in mind.  So I need to take the quilt width and add 2 x border measurement and add a bit to allow for the mitring.  That’s

48½” + 9½” + 9½” + 4″ = 71½”

From my border fabric I cut a 72″ (rounding up) piece, folded it along the selvedge then cut 4 border pieces at 9½”.

Keeping the border piece folded in half, place a pin at the halfway mark

The quilt top measures 48½” and half of that is 24¼”, so measure that distance from the centre pin and mark the top layer of the border piece with a pin


fold back to the underneath and mark that as well

Fold the quilt top in half and pin at the centre

With right sides together, pin match the centre pins.  (I do this at the ironing board, as it’s a good height and length.)

and secure

the other pins in the border will match the ends of the quilt top.

Pin a ¼” in from each end – this will be the start/stop position when stitching.

Stitch the border on, starting and stopping at these pins.  (I also backstitch at the start and finish to secure.)

Repeat to attach all 4 borders.

To mitre the corners, press towards the borders and leave the vertical side on the ironing board.

Place the horizontal boarder on top.

Take the bottom right hand corner of the horizontal border under itself to the top left corner to make a mitre.  (Excuse my shadow!)

Using a square ruler, line up the 45 degree angle against the mitre, and use matching solid line numbers (i.e. the 10 mark) to ensure the border edges stay square and the fold matches the 45 degree angle on the ruler.

When happy that all is square, remove the ruler and gently press the fold of the mitre.  Carefully lift the horizontal border down towards the vertical border, to reveal the wrong side and pin, running the pins parallel with the fold.


Bring the horizontal border all the way back against the vertical border, and pin on the other side of the fold, again, running the pins parallel with the fold.

Sew carefully along the fold line, using the flywheel on the machine to direct the needle to start right on the corner of the border stitching.

Once stitched, remove pins and turn to the right side to check

Ah! Lovely!  On the wrong side trim away the excess from the borders, leaving a ¼” seam allowance.

Press to finish.

Repeat on all corners.

Place your applique in position, and, as a hint, when placing bias, use flower head pins, pinning over the bias.


This stops the bias from stretching and makes it easy to move, if required.

Hope the above is of some help.

Happy stitching


2 Responses to Mitred Borders and Bias

  1. trkingmomoe says:

    Very good instructions. It has been a while since I have done a mitered boarder. Enjoy your blog.

  2. Cecile says:

    Hello Meredithe ! I’m French and, every week, I read your wonderful blog ! Using a square ruler for the 45 degree angle is a very good idea !!
    Thank you so much for that !!
    Happy quilting !

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