At Cobwebs and Caviar, we always hope a quilt pattern will be EXACTLY how you want it to end up. But hey, we quilters are creative! We like to make changes. Or we see a twin sized pattern that we would prefer as a queen sized quilt. So you’re finishing up your quilt top but decide you’d like it to be bigger. You’re going to add 2 or 3 borders but what sizes should they be?
The Golden Ratio will help you figure that out.
This ratio occurs in nature and is said to be the perfect proportion. It ensures things we look at are pleasing to the eye.
Look at the pictures below and decide which one in each pair is the most pleasing.
Most people would answer A – B – B. Those are the ones created based on the Golden Ratio.
The ratio, in its simplest form, is 1.6 to 1.
So if you are doing 3 quilt borders, each border should be 1.6 times larger than the previous one.
For instance, if you want to add 3 borders totalling 8″ per side, the first border would be 1.5 inches.
The second border would be 2.5 inches (1.5″ x 1.6 =2.4″, then round up).
And the final border would be 4 inches (2.5″ x 1.6 = 4″).
These are finished measurements so you need to add 1/4″ seam allowances to each side (1/2″ in total). That means you would cut these borders at 2″, 3″, and 4.5 inches respectively.
To get started in your calculations, just do some guesswork. Let’s say you want 2 quilt borders totalling 6 inches. Start with 2″ and see what happens.
2″ x 1.6 = 3″ The two borders would total 2″ + 3″ = 5″ Not quite enough.
2.25″ x 1.6 = 3.5″ The two borders would total 2.25″ + 3.5″ = 5.75″ That could work.
2.5″ x 1.6 = 4″ This time, the borders would total 2.5″ + 4″ = 6.5″. That could work too! So your choice.
Just don’t forget to add those seam allowances!
The diagram is from Jinny Beyer’s blog post on this topic
Prefer a simpler, no math approach? Check out our border fabrics and their matching coordinates Border Fabric
Thank you so much for writing this article! I apply the golden ratio to everything I design and I have done my best to explain it to my fellow quilters and sometimes our eyes glaze over because it’s a lot to take in from a brief conversation. This is a very well written explanation and I appreciate you having taken the time to create this post and share it with your fellow quilters
Thanks for the wonderful feedback, Janice! It can be a complicated idea to explain, can’t it!
Thank you, Gretchen!
Heh. I just googled “golden mean quilt” and there you are! Thanks!
Hey, Alison, glad that was helpful! We now have a “How Do I…?” section on our website with other tips and techniques (more on the way!) so you may want to check those out too 🙂
How Do I …?
How much yardage would be needed for two birders on a queen quilt. The first being 2@and the second 3″
When you say “queen quilt”, what is the actual width and length?
Thank you very much
Glad it was helpful, Katie!
Very helpful information.
Thank you. Very helpful information.
thanks so much! glad we could help!!!
This is exactly what I was looking for – I knew there had to be a rule of thumb for this and sure enough! Thank you!
That’s great, Peggy! This seems to have been our most popular post!
If you are only adding one border, what width border would you use?
Hi there! thanks for your question! the border width is going to largely depend on what the pattern is that you are using…for instance if most of your pieces are 2.5 inches then 1.5 times that would make a proportionately appealing border…hope this helps!
VERY useful information about borders. I was in desperate need of this exact information for my latest quilt. Thank you so much!!
I did an solid inner border of 2″ and a pieced border of 1.75. I want to add an outer border and am not sure what size. I was thinking of another 2″ border. Would that work?