American Quilter magazine pattern editor Marje Rhine shares her views on cutting fabric borders:
“Quilters are usually taught to cut quilt borders parallel to the selvage. There are a couple of good reasons for this. First, there is less stretch in the fabric parallel to the selvage so less likelihood of wavy borders. Second, the borders would not need to be pieced with adequate yardage.
But we all know there are no quilt police and there are good reasons to occasionally break the quilting ‘rules.’ I often cut my borders across the width of the fabric (WOF) from selvage to selvage. The borders usually need to be pieced but less fabric is required. And if the fabric is one of those large-scale prints so popular today, the borders may look better cut across the fabric width.
For example, here is a large-scale print I want to use as the outside border for my quilt.
For the next figure, I have superimposed cutting lines on the fabric to show the difference in the appearance of the borders after the fabric is cut. Although there is quite a bit of the blue I want in the print, some border strips cut parallel to the selvage will have almost no blue. Also, the same motifs repeat often in a lengthwise border strip. The border strips cut selvage to selvage have more variety in color and motifs.
See the difference in these quilt mock-ups below. The quilt with the borders cut across the WOF is more balanced and interesting to look at.
Don’t be afraid to break the rules if, in the end, you like the quilt better.”