April 29, 2021

Welcome to the last day of the block and border blog hop. I am happy to share with you the last block and border combination. I worked with a different grouping of fabric from Deb’s Signature Collection Garden Gems by Kathy Engle for Island Batik for this block. I wanted to show you the versatility of the collection and how it would look with a dark background versus the light background that I used on Monday. It completely changes the look of the collection.


My three fabric choices for the block. 

Today I am going to talk to you about Blockbuster #48: Mix & Match. This Blockbuster is made using the Square Squared Half Inch and the V Block tool, each block listed finished to a ½” increment because you were working with ½” finished units.

Blockbuster #58: Mix & Match 

Well, when your block finishes to a ½” increment what do you do to add a border to it? One option is to make units that finish to ½” increments for the border so that you can fit the border right to the block like I did in our first post on Monday, but that can sometimes limit you. Or you can add what we refer to as a spacer strip. A spacer strip is a plain border that you add to the block before you add the pieced border. It adjusts the size of the block so that it can fit your desired border.

Pieced Mix & Match Block 

For this project I started with the 16½” finished Mix & Match block. With the block size picked, I had to determine what border length I wanted to work with. 18” isn’t bad, you can have 2”, 3”, 4” and 6” units but the spacer strip would be ¾” finished and sometime that isn’t fun to work with. I decided to continue and think about what else was possible. The next number I came to was 20” and I decided to work with that. It was a nice length and made the spacer strip (I’ll get to this soon) something easy to work with. It also gave me loads of options for types and size of units, and I knew it would be fun playing with many different .

With 20” picked as the finished length of my border (excluding corners) it was time to add my spacer strip to the Mix & Match block. To determine the size of your spacer strip, what you need to do is take the finished block size after the spacer strip has been added (20”) and subtract the current finished block size from that (16½”). Here’s the calculation: 20”- 16½” = 3½”. Now I know my block needs to “grow” by 3½” to get to 20”. I took the 3½” and divided it by 2 so that I could have the same size border all the way around the block (3½” 2 = 1¾”). With my finished spacer strip width of 1¾”, I added ½” for my seam allowances and knew I needed to cut two strips 2¼”. 

Block with spacer strips attached.

Once I added the spacer strips to the block it measured 20½”x 20½” so now it was time to play with designs that would fit my 20” borders. I first tried Diamond Rects units since I thought the side triangles would add a great frame around the spacer strip. Using the tool instructions, I made 8 Diamond Rects units that finished to 5”x 10” and then decided four patches might look good in the corners. When making the Diamond Rects units I made the side triangles on one side the same color and the opposite side a different color to give a frame effect. In the end I decided that the units were too big and chunky and it didn’t suit the block. Back to the drawing board!


Block with the Diamond Rects border.

From the Diamond Rects border, I did take away that I liked the shape that the side triangles made against the spacer border but they were just too large. I decided I wanted that same shape and pulled out the V Block tool that I had used to make the center units. I decided that in the 20” space, 4” units would work nicely. They were a good size and would stand up against a 16½” block but not be so big that all you saw was border. Again, I made two-color V Block units with mirror image side triangles so that whether I put them together point to point or wide end to wide end they would have the same color triangles along the inside and outside. 

V Block units trimmed.

Once I had the units, I played with how they would be laid out. I liked them point to point. That created the shape that I liked with the Diamond Rects side triangles and would allow me to have two complete shapes per side.

V Block units point to point. 

Next, I had to decide what final unit I would add to finish the border. Since 20  4 = 5, I knew I needed 5 units to finish the border to length. I already had 4 and needed one more. I settled on an Hourglass unit, which gave a triangle the same height as my side triangles and allowed the design fall into place. I made the hour glass units and put them together with my V blocks, and oh was I happy with the border!

The final element that needed to be considered was how to turn the corners. With the black triangles pointing toward the corners, I decided a half square triangle would be the best since it was simple and allowed the colors that were already there to connect and flow easily. 

With the design decisions made and my units all laid out, the final job was to sew them all together. I just love how the block came out!


                                  Block and units all laid out.                                      Finished Block!

Without a spacer strip this border design would not have been possible on this block. So consider using a spacer strip when you want to add a border to a quilt or block and the math for the border doesn’t fit the center. Adding a spacer strip will allow you to fit the border you want to your quilt. And know that the strips do not need to be the same all around. If the top and bottom ones need to be wider than the side ones then go for it. Use what you need to make the quilt you want. You make the rules!

Thank you all for joining us this week as we explored adding pieced borders to blocks. I hope that you enjoyed the posts and that you learned a little bit about designing a border to add pizazz to your blocks or quilts.

Thank you to Diana and Chris for participating in the Blog Hop and for sharing your wonderful creativity with us. If you missed their posts this week, you can find them at the links below.


Monday, April 26th

Sarah Furrer at Studio 180 Design 

Tuesday, April 27th

Diana Mann at Murgaboo Quilts  

Wednesday April 28th

Chris Combs at The Quilters Nook  




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