Buzzings from a quilter who bumbles her way through life!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tutorial: Centering Words in Your Borders

  Many of my quilts have words along the borders. The quilt at left, Sugar Cookies, has a complete Sugar Cookie recipe embroidered around the outer border. My Who's Been Eating My Porridge (Goldilocks and the Three Bears) quilt has a recipe for porridge. Some of my quilts have nursery rhymes. Some have Bible verses. 
  I've been asked how I center these words in the borders so that they all fit and fill the space. This tutorial will attempt to show you my little trick to accomplish this.           I
1. Sew your borders before adding your words. This will keep you from stretching the fabric out of square when you embroider it, and it will also insure that your are working with the correct length of your borders.  You may also want to run your words past seams.
2. If your pattern does not have words to cut out, print them off from your computer and printer. I wanted my words about 1" high, so I used a large font. If you do not have a computer, you can write out your words.
3. Make marks (using a non-permanent marking tool such as chalk or tape) to give yourself a baseline for your words. This is where the bottom of your letters will sit. They should be somewhere around the middle of the border. I like mine to face into the quilt. (The bottom of the letters is to the inside of the border and the top is to the outside.)

4. Cut the printed words out individually. Cut across the bottom of the words to more easily place them with their bottoms straight.
5. Place the words along the border and play with their placement until they fill the space and have even spacing.
6. Using either regular masking tape or blue painter's tape, place the tape sticky side up under the words you have spaced on the border. Place them one at a time on the tape, placing the bottom of each word along the bottom of the tape. Maintain your spacing as you do this. When all of your words are on the tape, place the tape on a flat surface, such as a floor or table, and place the border over it. Line up the bottom edge of the tape with the markings you have made on the front of the border to indicate the bottom edge of the words. The tape will stick to the border on the back, but can be repositioned until you get it where you want it.
7. Use a light box or hold it up to a window if you have a problem  seeing where the words are positioned. In most cases, you can see fairly easily through the fabric.
8. Trace each letter using either a mechanical pencil (Use a light touch. The marks should be hidden by your embroidery.) or a heat sensitive ink pen (I use FriXion by Pilot. If you use this pen, do not press with an iron until you have finished with any embroidery! The heat of an iron will cause the ink to disappear!!). You may have a different marking method. Use one that you like.
9. Remove the tape from the back when all the words have been traced onto the fabric.
10. I like to cut a strip of batting the same size as my finished border. I use a washable glue stick to stick it behind my border. This is a step that you may not wish to take, but I think it gives the embroidery a nice look when quilted. I put the batting on before doing any embroidery.
11. Embroider your words using 2 strands of floss. I go through the batting with my embroidery.
12. When all the embroidery is finished, remove your markings. (If you have used a FriXion pen, the markings will disappear with the heat of an iron.)
That's how I do it. (And I didn't even have to use much math!)


  1. Love this tip!! LOVE IT!! Thank you so much for sharing :) You are so wonderful!

  2. great tutorial.....quilt isn't so bad nice

  3. Thank you for sharing this tip. It is so much easier than using a lot of math!

  4. Thank you for sharing this tip!

  5. Thanks for sharing this tutorial. You made it all so simple :)

  6. Great tutorial Linda~thank you so much for your kind words today on my blog ~ So glad to have found you in blogland!
    ♥ Eileen

  7. Hi Linda.... I came here from Allies and then again to thank you and answer your comment on Sew We Quilt..... a chook is a common Australian word for chicken....
    Great tutorial... thanks....

  8. Your tutorial is very helpful. Simple ideas like masking tape don't always spring to mind. I saw you in the snow. I can imagine that getting upright again would be tricky :)
    Can't believe 'chook' is Australian. One just takes for granted that everyone speaks the same :) The word can be used in other ways too. Close friends of mine might call me 'an old chook' :D

  9. Well how neat is that?! Thanks for sharing, I may have to use this sometime.

  10. Linda,

    Thanks for this tutorial. I want to make a wall hanging for my daughter, who just got a new job as a librarian. I wanted to put a quote on it, and I wasn't sure how I would do it. Now I know!


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