Tag Archives: Sawtooth border

Sawtooth Borders

This morning Jim asked me about a decision I’d made on my Tree of Life quilt. I arrayed the sawtooth (half-square triangles) border asymmetrically and he wondered why. If you look at the photo below, you can see that the points spray “outward” but without being split evenly at the centers of the sides.

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He wondered, in particular, if I’d done that because there are 15 HST on each of the long sides and 12 HST on each of the shorter sides. I could split 12 at the center (6 going each direction), but it’s hard to split 15 at the center, without some other creative adjustment.

The truth is, I hadn’t even thought of that. Instead, I knew I wanted to continue the whimsical feel of the center panel, and to create the sense that it erupted past the narrow red border. To me the HST give the organic feel of more leaves. One other reason is because I heard Jim’s voice in my head. He has often urged me to use asymmetrical borders, and this seemed like the right time to heed that voice.

I’ve talked about sawtooth borders before. In my post Pieced Borders I show lots of ways to use simple units in a variety of ways. Sawtooth borders are one shown. This simple illustration gives 4 different ways to arrange them.

Different effects depending on value placement

In another post I showed you these four variations, which I auditioned for a small quilt.

Can give a cool effect, but probably not what I want for this quilt.

This one I kinda like…

Not actually wonky — these are just blocks I’ve overlapped.

Maybe too “sharp” looking?

The lesson is, try lots of different ideas when you’re using HST in a border. Though I didn’t try multiple arrangements for my Tree of Life, normally I would. I’ve been surprised more than once and chosen something I wouldn’t have expected.

Round Robin Challenges


My friend Janet made this beautiful block. She is in my small quilt group. As you may remember, last year my group did a round robin project. This year we are again, but we’re doing mini-medallions. The finished quilts must be no larger than 18″ to meet the rules of our larger guild’s annual challenge.

Because of the small size, only four people will work on each quilt. Each owner began their quilt with a center block. After that, three people will add borders, with the total width of the added border no more than 2″. I’ve added the first border to Janet’s. Her appliqué is lovely and traditional. I wanted to honor it to highlight her work, but also setting the piece up for later borders.

While it would be natural to continue with the reds, greens, and creams, I thought about some color problems I’ve had with my own medallion quilts. More than once I’ve backed myself into a corner by using too few colors in the center. I was afraid if I stuck with those, it would be hard for later borders to broaden the spectrum. While sometimes a quilt is intended to have few colors, this one doesn’t need to.

My first thought for a new color was cheddar. In the early 1800s, chrome yellows and cheddar oranges often were use to accent red and green appliqué quilts.

To see more about my process, click here