Yesterday a reader asked me what she could do with a 20” octagon panel, how could she turn it into a bigger quilt? My answer was: add borders! I detailed the response to her and then I thought that maybe there are other quilters that have the same problem so here is a short tutorial on how to add borders to octagon blocks/panels.
I needed an octagon so I made quickly this block. I used my Loving Hugs II pattern and as you see, it is just triangles stitched around on octagon; the result is also an octagon. I chose to stitch two rows of triangles (the pattern shows how to stitch three rows of triangles).
The octagon center is 3 1/2” and the finished block measures about 17”.
This is one of my favorite patterns, it works great with so many fabric combination.
So here is how to add the borders – I used 2 1/2” wide strips for borders, cut on the straight grain.
First, stitch a strip only partially to one of the edges of the octagon. Finger-press the seam allowance toward the strip.
Using a long ruler aligned with the edge of the octagon, trim the excess of the strip as shown below.
See below bigger pictures.
Working counterclockwise, attach the second strip.
This time, trim the excess at both ends of the strip, as shown.
Before trimming, press the seam. I am not a fan of pressing while you sew blocks, but in this case, for best results, pressing is better than just finger-pressing.
Strip #2 trimmed to size.
In the same way, add the remaining strips…
After the 8th strip is attached, you have to finish the first (partially sewn), seam.
Partial seam completed.
Excess strip trimmed- see below.
Voila! Borders added in a quick and easy way.
For this first border, always use a fabric that contrasts with the fabric of your block/panel. If your block/panel features a busy, floral print, do not use a busy print for border, too. A better option is a tone-on-tone, solid or almost solid fabric.
What about color? A neutral color (beige, ivory, gray, white, maybe black…) always works. You could also use one of the predominant colors from your block/panel but in a lighter tone.
You could use wider strips as well, but avoid too wide strips, the border will not look too pretty!
Need even a bigger quilt? Add a second border (or even more). Use other fabrics that contrast with the first border.
The width of this border? Your choice!
When you are done with these borders, you could add triangles to the corners and turn the octagon into a square. Don’t know how to do it? Check out this tutorial.
Then add a final border to the square (this puts the entire design in perspective). I added 5” borders to my piece and I ended up with a 35” square quilt. A new baby girl will come in the world in our family in just a few month, so this will be her quilt. I have a piece of mint minky and it will be perfect as backing.
If you want to learn how to piece the block above, click below.
My inspiration for the borders around the octagon came from the quilt below. As you see, in this way you can add borders to any shape! This one is a polygon with 12 edges.
I hope this helps!