A border can be added to a T-shirt quilt to either increase the size of the quilt and/or for aesthetic reasons.
Once you have decided that you want a border, how do you choose the border’s color? Below is a look at how you can choose the colors for your border, broken down by border style. Here's more about the cost of borders.
The two quilts here show the difference between a 2" + 4" solid border and a 2 " + 4" pieced + 2" solid border. Both use a black and yellow color palette.
A solid border can be 2", 4", 8", or 12" wide. The wider the border, the more impact the border will have on the look of the quilt.
Choosing the color for a solid border is the most straightforward of all the borders. Simply choose a color that will look great with your T-shirts.
To do this, pull out the most colorful T-shirts in your stack of T-shirts. Is there any one color that you love that pops out to you? If so, this could be the border color.
Conversely, if there are a lot of T-shirts the same color, that could be your border color. Such a border will not add as much pop to your quilt.
If you want to choose a random color that is not in your quilt, we can do that with a big “but…”. We will need to add blocks of that color into the body of the quilt so the color is balanced throughout the quilt. This can end up making your quilt larger.
The teal quilt here is an example of adding a random color to a quilt. There were no teal colored T-shirts in this group of T-shirts. So to use teal as the border color, we added teal blocks within the quilt.
To learn more about the different types, styles and qualities of T-shirts, download our T-shirt Quilt Buyer’s Guide. It’s a great place to begin your journey to finding a quilt maker.
Double Solid Borders
You will need to choose two colors for a double solid border. We would suggest choosing a lighter and a darker color. Generally, we put the darker color next to the body of the quilt and the lighter color on the outside. Again, look for colors that are already in your quilt for a cue for the borders.
If there were a minor color in the quilt that you love, this would be a great color for the outside border. To add a punch, consider adding solid blocks of this color in the body of the quilt. The lime green and navy border on the quilt to the left is a great example of this. The additional lime green blocks on the inside of the quilt help to unify the look of the quilt.
Below are additional photos of quilts with a 4" + 2" solid border.
You can have a lot of fun choosing the colors for a pieced border. Typically, these quilts fall into two general categories: two or three colors or lots of colors.
Using a pieced border with two or three repeating colors looks great when the quilt is comprised of just a few colors. For example, the Florida quilt to the right has just orange, royal, gray and white T-shirts. The alternating orange and royal border is perfect for this quilt.
When a quilt has numerous awesome color T-shirts, a multi-color border made from those T-shirts will make a fantastic border. We love these borders because they set off the quilt and just makes you want to keep looking at the quilt. They are truly Too Cool!
Here are some more examples of pieced borders.
Pieced + Solid Border
Choosing colors for these borders combine the decision-making process used for the solid and pieced borders.
What if your T-shirts are monochromatic or just two or three colors? You will let that color dictate your border. This makes deciding on a border very easy.
Are your T-shirts a mishmash of colors? If so, consider having the pieced portion of the border made from many of the different colors within the quilt. Then you could choose a color for the solid part(s) of the border that sets off the pieced section. Many times, a dark color will make the pieced section visually pop out.
Another way to choose colors for a pieced + solid border is to choose a number of colors you love for the pieced portion of the border. Then choose a dark color or black for the solid sections. To make this work, pieces from the pieced section of the border should be used within the quilt. This helps to tie the border to the rest of the quilt. This can make for a very striking quilt.
Below are a number of other examples. They each look so different.
Andrea Funk is the inventor of T-shirt quilts made with multiple blocks sizes. The modern method of making T-shirt quilts. In 1992 she founded Too Cool T-shirt Quilts. Her life has been immersed in T-shirt quilts ever since.