Simple Patchwork Border for Quilt Panels

Categories: Bedding, Kid Friendly, Quilts

This tutorial will teach you how to square up your panel as well as add a simple border.  Panels are a fun and fast way to make a quilt, but they usually need a little finishing touch.  Adding a simple border can personalize your panel a bit more as well as extending the size.  A panel only quilt is a good size for a baby, but if you want the quilt to last them farther into their childhood, you’ll want it a bit bigger.  Anyone who follows my blog, will know I have a love affair with I-Spy squares.  (Squares that each have a different object.)  Any kind of 4″ charm squares will work well though.

The front of this quilt is so busy and colorful that I wanted something calmer and more neutral for the back, so I chose Alotta Dots Cuddle® in Multi for the back…mostly white with some pops of color. I also used the same Cuddle® for the binding.

What you need to make this project

1 Super Fun Quilt Panel (approx. 36 x 44 in.)
48 - 4" Charm Squares
1 Package Nature-Fil™ Bamboo Blend Batting 60″ x 60″
1 1/4 Yard Cuddle® Fabric for Backing or 1 1/2 Yards Quilting Cotton for Backing
1/3 Yard Cuddle® Fabric for Binding or 1/2 Yard Quilting Cotton for Binding
Coordinating Thread
Coordinating Thread
Rotary Cutting Mat, Ruler, and Blade
Sewing Machine and Related Supplies
Walking Foot (optional)

Quick Shop


Step One

One of the hardest parts about working with a panel is to trim it to the size you need. Large lengths can be tricky to cut straight and square.  The exact size of the usable panel space can vary slightly from panel to panel, especially since the width of quilt fabric can be anywhere from 42-44″.  You may also find that sometimes the panel is not even printed exactly square…so you’re nearly always going to need to trim it.

I prefer to fold my panel into quarters, carefully matching the corners and along the sides as I go.



Then rather than using the cut edge use the FOLD to square your ruler and trim.  Also, when I’m cutting really large pieces of fabric, I rely more on the lines on my cutting mat that lines on my ruler.  So I had the folded edges lines up carefully with the lines on my cutting mat.


We want to trim our finished panel to measure 42.5 x 35.5″.  This means if you’ve folded your panel into quarters, you’ll but cutting at 17.75″ and 21.25″.  (You could also modify this to work with 5″ charm squares.  Then you would need to trim your panel to 35.5″ by 40.5″ and you would use 7 squares across the top and bottom and 8 squares down the sides.)



Step Two

Sew your 4″ charm squares end-to-end to make strips of 12 squares using a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Press your seams.  It’s VERY important to make sure your seam allowances are the right size or they won’t match up correctly.  I chose to use I-Spy Squares in a rainbow-y pattern to go with the bright rainbows in the quilt, but you could use 4″ squares from just a couple of coordinating fabric.



Step Three

Stitch the SIDE borders on first with a 1/4 inch seam.

Should you make a mistake and end up with a little extra on one border, the easiest fix is a slight trim.  This can happen if you don’t pin and end stretching your fabric. (I pinned the other side and it came out perfect.)  It could also happen if your squares are cut a bit too large or your seam allowances are on the small side.


Last sew your top and bottom border on.


Step Four

I’m not sure exactly how old this panel is, but I suspect it’s from the 80’s or early 90’s.  The fabric isn’t quite as soft as more current quilting cottons, so I wanted to make sure to use extra soft Bamboo Blend batting and Cuddle® fabric for the backing since it was going to a new baby.  (Then baby can be wrapped in the soft side and the bright side can be showing.)

The quilting was done on my home machine and I followed the patterns in the quilt panel.  I didn’t follow every line, but enough for the general zebra, rainbow, and flower design to be visible on the back through the plush batting and Cuddle® Fabric.

024-Rainbow-Zebra-Quilt 023-Rainbow-Zebra-Quilt

Step Five

Kind of ironic that such a colorful quilt ended up being photographed in the snow, but it’s going to be a while before we see the grass here.