Quilt sashing refers to using strips of fabric to ‘frame’ each pieced block of a quilt. It is a fun and easy way to add an extra feature to your quilt. You can choose to do it in contrasting colors to your blocks or in the same color as your background. You can also choose whether to have cornerstones in your quilt sashing and how you want those cornerstones to look.
Your sashing can allow the quilting blocks to stand out separately, without blending their patterns together. It can be used to pull together and unify your quilt when you are using a wide variety of colors or making a scrap quilt. It is also useful for making a quilt larger when your joined blocks don’t quite make the size quilt you require!
Quilt Sashing - Supplies
All the usual quilting supplies which you have used to construct your blocks- such as-
- Fabric- closely woven cotton.
- Thread - Strong thread in a matching color.
- Cutting Tools - Rotary cutter, self-healing cutting board, quilting ruler.
- Basic Supplies - Sewing machine, straight pins.
- Foot - Walking foot for your machine, if you have one.
- Pressing Tools - Iron and ironing board.
Calculating Yardage for Quilt Sashing
There is no simple formula for calculating the yardage you will need for your quilt sashing. You will have to work it out yourself according to how many rows of blocks you have and how wide you want the sashing to be.
If you have 6 rows of blocks, and you want the quilt sashing to be 2” (5cm) wide, multiply the 2” (5cm) by 7. This gives you 5 rows of sashing between blocks and 1 row on top, one row at the bottom. So that works out to 14” (35cm) of fabric.
You will cut the strips across the width of your fabric. This assumes that your fabric is wide enough to go all the way across your quilt. Then repeat this with the number of columns of blocks you have for the vertical rows of quilt sashing.
If your quilt will be longer than the width of your fabric, you will need to buy extra fabric. So in our example, we have calculated 14” (35cm)of fabric for horizontal strips. If your quilt is 4 blocks wide, you will need 6 vertical strips of 2” (5cm) 6x2=12”.(6x5=30cm.) Then add the 14” (35cm)to the 12”(30cm) to get your total. You will need 26”(65cm)of fabric. It is, however always safer to buy a little extra to allow for fabric that is crookedly cut at the store, or mistakes you may make. Any leftover fabric you have can always be incorporated into another quilt!
If you have a one-way design on your fabric you will definitely need to buy more to allow for directionality.
How to Do Quilt Sashing
There are two ways to add sashing to a quilt.
Method One - Quilt Sashing
Is to place strips between the blocks and sew up a whole row, then add long strips between the rows.
- Cut Short Strips - Cut strips for the blocks with the same measurement as each block. So if the finished blocks are 10” (25cm), the strips must be 10” (25cm) long.
- Sew the Rows - Be sure your blocks are squared up to exactly the same size, and then sew blocks and strips together as shown to make a row. Press each unit as you add the strips.
- Cut Long Strips - Next, cut long strips the same width as your small strips. So if you have 4x 10” (25cm) blocks in a row, and your strips are 2” (5cm) wide you need to cut 40” (100cm) PLUS the strip width, say 2”(5cm)x3= 6” (15cm) which would be 46” (115cm) long, and still 2” (5cm)wide.
- Join the Rows - Then sew the long strips to the top of each row you have stitched together, plus one more at the bottom. When sewing these long strips, if you have a walking foot, use it, as the fabric often stretches as you sew, and you end up with one piece longer than the other.
Sewing Tips: To align the long strips, fold the strip in half and mark the fold with a pin. Then fold your row in half and mark the fold with a pin. Match the ends of the strip with the ends of the row of blocks. Pin strip and blocks together using these pins as markers. Remember to place right sides facing! Add more pins in between your marker pins to hold everything securely in place, and sew strip and row together. Press again to be sure that these long strips are nice and flat and even.
Method Two - Quilt Sashing
With this method, you add your strips to two sides of each block and then sew the blocks together. It eliminates some of the very long seams, but you still have two long seams at the end. You will be cutting and sewing much shorter strips so there is less potential for strips to stretch out of shape.
- SIDE - Cut one strip exactly the same length as your pieced block. Stitch it to the right side.
- TOP - Then, the strip that goes on top must include the width of that side strip. So in this example, it will have the extra 2” (5cm) added to it. Do not forget to add in your seam allowances!!
- ROWS - Once you have added all your strips (you can use chain piecing to speed this up), you sew your final blocks together.
- LEFT BORDER - You will see that the bottom and the left side of your quilt will still be lacking sashing. You will need to cut long strips just for these. Measure the final size of the left side of the quilt, cut a strip that length by the set width of your quilt sashing. Sew it on, using the central pin method described earlier in method one.
- BOTTOM BORDER - Then measure the final length of the bottom of your quilt, cut the strip that length, and attach as before.
Quilt Sashing with Cornerstones
Another way of adding interest to your quilt is to add cornerstones to the sashing. These are also sometimes called ‘posts.’ Cornerstones are little squares that separate each row of quilt sashing.
- To create these, you will cut all your quilt sashing strips to the same length as your pieced blocks. Sew a strip onto the sides of your block and create a row.
- Now, to the next strip, add a quilt sashing cornerstone. The cornerstones are squares cut to the same measurement as the width of your quilt sashing strips. So if your strips are 2”(5cm) wide, the cornerstone will be 2”(5cm) square.
- Now add this to the top of your block row.
- Add cornerstones like this to all your blocks.
- Stitch all your rows together to make up the quilt. Then you will need to add one long row (with cornerstones included) to the bottom of the quilt, and another row with cornerstones included to the left-hand side of the quilt.
When adding these final rows, be sure to match up all the seams of each strip and block and pin them into place before sewing. You don’t want the cornerstones being out of alignment with the corners! This precise matching is worth the extra bit of effort for a crisp, neat finish to your quilt sashing.
How Wide Should The Quilt Sashing Be?
There is no hard and fast rule. It is up to you and your quilt design. You may want to make the quilt sashing width proportional to the size of your blocks- for example, a quarter the width of the block or even a third of the block width. When all your blocks are assembled (but not yet sewn together), arrange them on a flat surface and see what width quilt sashing is pleasing to the eye. This is where your creativity comes into play!
What Colors Should I Choose?
Again, this is a matter of personal taste. You could, for example:
- Choose a contrasting color to the background of the blocks.
- Choose the same color as the block background. This will make the cornerstones ‘float’ in the middle of your blocks.
- Choose a solid fabric for sashing in between blocks made up of prints.
- Choose a pretty print for quilt sashing, which picks up one of the main colors in your block.
- Your sashing could even be made up of rows of ‘Flying Geese’.
- Your cornerstones could be made up of tiny pieced squares, for example, ‘Hourglass’ or ‘Bow Tie’ squares.
- Cornerstones can also be made up of ‘Fussy Cut’ squares.
The color and design is up to you! Even if you are following a specific quilt pattern, you can make an original and individual statement by mixing up the quilt sashing and cornerstones as you please.
Another idea is to place the quilt blocks ‘on point’ with sashing in between the squares to make a lattice effect. If you choose to do this, you will need half squares at the edges to create a smooth even edge.
Quilt Sashing - In Conclusion
The next decision after completing your quilt sashing will be about your quilt border. Do you want it to be exactly the same fabric as your sashing? Do you prefer to have contrast? For example, you could make a wide border of, say, three strips of fabric, with just one of them being the same as your quilt sashing. Once you have added all your quilt sashing and borders, you will layer, baste, quilt and bind to complete the whole quilt. Have fun, and enjoy each step of the process of creating a quilt!
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- Quilting Terms and Definitions – A to Z
- Quilting for Beginners – Starting from the Beginning
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