Tag Archives: Elizabeth F. Nyhan

Lessons: Border Books Review

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The other day I presented book reviews of almost all the existing medallion quilt books. Of course, medallions are defined as quilts with a center block surrounded by a series of borders. I find border books quite useful in developing my designs. Unlike with medallion books, there are dozens available. I own five of them and give short reviews of just those five below. If you have favorite resources that aren’t on my list, please feel free to comment. Let us know the book and author, and what you love about it.

The Treasury of Patchwork Borders by Elizabeth F. Nyhan, 1991
I added this book to my library late last year. Aside from an introduction to explain how to use it, the book consists of black and white line-drawing charts to illustrate 40 different borders with variations. The charts include sizing for a variety of unit measurements, with border widths and section repeats. One of the features I like best is the demonstration of how corners meet, which isn’t always obvious on first consideration. The book is great for ideas — though its line-drawing configuration means you must use your imagination for color and value placement — as well as for construction guides. I expect to use this a lot over the years.

Sensational Sets & Borders by Rodale, 1998
I picked up this reference book at last year’s guild book sale. About half of the book is focused on setting layouts for quilts, such as straight or on-point setting, with or without sashings, and other formats. The other half is the meat I care more about, borders. The chapters explore types of borders including mitered, pieced, and appliquéd. Pages are formatted with three different insights for construction and design, with tips sprinkled in liberally. Each chapter also ends with a problem-solving page, such as the “Fudging to Fit” tips for pieced borders. Each time I thumb through this book I see new things, not necessarily new ideas to me but great ways to present them.

Borders, Bindings & Edges by Sally Collins, 2004
This book  presents the outer parts of the quilt as equal in importance to the center. Whether you’re making a medallion or other format quilt, Collins provides great ideas for finishing. Borders receive the majority of attention, but bindings, piping, prairie points, and other edge treatments all are discussed.

Collins includes design discussion (color, proportion, continuity, etc.) as well as detailed technical pointers for how to get different strategies work. Some quilters may find the math intimidating, but it is presented clearly for those of us who just need some brush-up. Overall, this borders book is the best medallion book I own.

Beautiful Borders, Backings & Bindings by Jill Reber and Margaret Sindelar, 2005
Again borders receive the majority of discussion here. There is a great gallery of ideas and a large section of projects. Though the treatment is much more simplistic than in Collin’s book, there are great tips and lots of large photos and helpful drawings throughout. I don’t use this book a lot anymore, but I’m glad I own it.

The Border Workbook by Janet Kime, 2006
Kime’s book gives specific instruction on more than two dozen borders. There’s a little bit of information on problem solving and some technique/math help. Mostly though, it’s just borders. I like the book though I haven’t used it to develop any particular project yet. There are basics such as sawteeth and checkerboards, as well as more unusual ones like kitty faces, interlocking friendship stars, and side-by-side hearts. One minor weakness is the border blocks and treatments are given as specific sizes, so it may be hard for some to translate those to their own needs.

What’s your favorite way to border a quilt? What’s the most unusual border you’ve created? Are borders fun for you, or just a last desperate gasp to finish a quilt?

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