How to Square Up a Quilt Top Before Adding Borders

After joining your quilt blocks to form an angelic quilt top, you are close to finishing the quilting process. Before winding up, you have to square up the quilt. To square up, you trim the extra batting and backing on the outer edges of the quilt. You also ensure that the edges are entirely straight and square.

Squaring up may sound pretty straightforward, but it is not. At times, after joining the quilt blocks, your seams may be imperfect. And by the time you finish quilting, the edges won’t be even. Correct Squaring up will help in solving this.

How to Square Up a Quilt Before Adding Borders?

Quilt Adding Borders

Lay your quilt on a flat surface like a table. Place the straight ruler on top of the quilt corner and Align the ruler’s edges to ensure in place. Position the square ruler to the top of the straight-edge ruler. Ensure the square ruler is directly on top for a clear view of the corner. Align the edges next to the ruler with those of the quilt. Trim the excess batting and backing using a rotary cutter. Position the rulers again on all the corners and cut them evenly and neatly.

Steps to Square Up a Quilt Top Before Adding Borders

Before we jump to the main steps, let’s collect the supplies first. Here is what you need:

  • Big square quilt ruler
  • Rotary cutter
  • Straight edge cutting ruler
  • Rotary cutting mat

Step 1: Adjust the Quilt Top

First of all, place the quilt top on a cutting surface or any large table. Make sure it has enough support that none of its sides is dragging down the table.

Straight edge cutting ruler

Step 2: Place Straight Edge Cutting Ruler

Place the ruler on the quilt top corner. Make sure to line it up correctly so that you can get a clear-cut corner on the quilt top.

Step 3: Use Square Quilt Ruler

Now place the quilt ruler over the straight edge cutting ruler. You can adjust both of them to get an ideal corner placement.

Step 4: Start Cutting

You can use a rotary cutter to trim near the right edge of both rulers. You can also move the quilt top as required. Sewists do it to get the top right corner and cutting mat in a position.

Step 5: Repeat the Process

For the bottom and top left corners, you can repeat the same process. Lastly, make sure to straighten the bottom and top edges of the quilt.

Do You Have to Square Up a Quilt Before Adding Borders?

Quilt Borders

I cannot say that squaring up a quilt before adding borders is a must. It may be necessary for you and not for another person. But let us look at the benefit of doing this. If your quilt top is not square and you fail to square it up, then probably your quilt won’t be even at all.

When you square up the quilt before the borders, you will ensure that no fabric moves beyond the edges. You can measure the quilt’s sides and center from up to down, the bottom, top, and center. If it is way off, square it up before adding the borders. Here are other times you can square up your quilt and ensure that the corners are even.

1. Dealing With One Block at a Time

It is much easier to deal with an individual block. Before you sew the quilt blocks together, square them all up. After this, square up the center of the quilt before adding borders. After adding the borders, square them up too.

This technique is far much better than having many blocks at once to deal with at a time. When the offs are many, it will be hard to square them up, so they will be uneven.

2. Ensuring That the Seam Cut and Allowances in All Corners Are Accurate

In some cases, you need not square up the quilt. So, what should you do? Ensure that your seam and cut allowances are correct. If so, then no need to square up.

To square up before adding borders is one among other options. While the technique may work for you, another person may find it challenging. It will entirely depend on your preference. All in all, you don’t have to square up a quilt before adding borders.

Can Quilt Borders Be Different Widths?

Quilt Borders Be Different Widths

Most quilts usually have a uniform width, but you can have them in different sizes. You are in control of your quilt, so there is no harm in having borders with different dimensions. Below are the main reasons why you can use edges of various sizes.

1. For Proper Fitting, if the Quilt to the Bed

This technique was predominant in the past. But you may notice and use it in the present day, though rarely. You may vary the size of your borders so that they fit the bed. In some cases, a sewist omits some sides of the quilt’s borders for the same purpose or when it is unnoticeable. After all, you will be saving yourself so much energy and time.

2. To Ensure the Borders Fit the Particular Block

It can be challenging to get the correct size that will match the blocks, especially when affixing borders from on-point blocks to the center of blocks whose rows and columns are straight. For this style to work correctly, the width of the borders needs to be different. It will reimburse the space between the on-point blocks and the center blocks.

3. Other Designs

In some designs, the quilt borders won’t be there at all, for example, in the wall quilts.

Should Quilt Borders Be Cut Crosswise or Lengthwise?

It may be tough choosing between crosswise grain and lengthwise grain. But before going any further, you need to understand what each of them entails.

1. Lengthwise Quilt Borders

Lengthwise grain follows the side of the selvages. It is the bending you’ll see on the fabric, and it is compact. If you are finding trouble distinguishing lengthwise grain to crosswise grain, stretch the edges of the fabric. The less stretchy one is the lengthwise grain. The lengthwise grain not expanding much will reduce the chances of the border strip edge not complementing that of the quilt.

2. Crosswise Quilt Borders

The crosswise grain follows the perpendicular direction of the lengthwise grain. When making the fabric, it stretches more.


1. Which Should You Choose – Crosswise or Lengthwise?

You may choose to use lengthwise grain for strip piecing and apply crosswise grain to complement the positions when joining the sub-cuts. Others may decide to start with crosswise grain to cut the strips then use lengthwise grain for joining. Most quilters will, however, line up the lengthwise grain and cut their strips crosswise.

If, in the end, the weaving is perfect, then the crosswise grain must be in line. If the borders are not square, there will be some excess stretching on the strips’ edges. It means that there will be some bias; hence it will be hard to unwind the fabric. First, to get rid of such, ensure that the crosswise grain is inline before cutting crosswise strips.

When using a quilt sandwich for your borders, you can select the lengthwise or crosswise grain to cut the border strips. One drawback of lengthwise grain is that you’ll need so much fabric.

2. Is There an Easier Way to Square Up the Quilt Before Adding the Borders?

You can use the inside of the border as the guiding tool. It will help you determine the wideness of the edge. In most cases, it is 1/4 inches less than it may seem. Then position your ruler to the inside of the border. You can now go ahead and make a neat trim on all the borders of the quilt. It is just one straightforward way to square up your quilt easily. There are also other, more precise techniques.

3. How Can I Come Up With an Even Quilt?

The first step to this is ensuring that your cutting is accurate. If you cut your block’s wrong size and direction, then don’t expect a neat square. It doesn’t matter the seam allowance you leave. Even the smallest one will favorably affect the accuracy of the quilt when squaring up.

Over to You!


Squaring up before completing the final sewing process is vital. It will ensure that the borders, in the end, aren’t wonky so that the last look of your quilt is admirable. Before engaging in this process, collect the right equipment first. Ensure you know how to use them and where to place them for more accurate results.

It is worth noting that squaring up a quilt before adding borders is not a must-to-follow procedure. You may choose to square up on each block as you go. Others will prefer squaring up after adding the borders. I believe this narrows down to how conversant you are with the procedure. You can always go for what you see. It gives you the tremendous final look of the quilt.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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