Updated November 17, 2023.
Often, adding a border can really set off your needlepoint. I don’t know about you, but I find them frustrating because I hate to count to find out if a decorative border will fit.
While we, as needlepointers, fuss over creating a perfect border, quilters get on with it. They have some effective strategies that we can easily adopt.
Use a narrow border in a new (and unexpected) color: In quilts that narrow outside border is the binding that holds all the layers of the quilt together. Although sometimes it matches, often it’s a color that’s new or only used in small amounts.
In needlepoint create your own binding with a border of Tent Stitch.
Increase the impact of a single border by making it in Gobelin or in various colors: By widening a single border and using Gobelin, you have more room to play with color. If you use an overdyed thread matching the colors in the piece, you can get something really dynamic as you can see in the border of this quilt block.
Don’t be afraid to pile up borders: Many quilts use a variety of solid-colored borders in different widths to set off the central design. You can pile up Tent Stitch borders, Gobelin Stitch Borders (both Upright and Diagonal), and even wide borders in textured stitches. The Tink Boord-Dill peach pictured above used this approach.
Think about alternating colors in a check or damask: Checked borders are very popular in needlepoint. That’s because they can be made different sizes and can bring out many of the colors in your piece. This was done effectively on this vintage In Good Company mini-sock.
A variation of this is using two textures of the same color and alternating them. It creates some variety but without changing color. I love this idea and want to use it more often.
Borders don’t have to be on all four sides: A more contemporary look happens when you put borders on just one or two sides. It creates an asymmetrical look.
I discovered this by accident one day when I only needed one thread more to get a piece to fit into a frame. Since then I’ve used it several times. In the twinchy pictured here, I had enough space to put the border all around, but the two-sided border placement makes the simple block into something special.
When in doubt, add corner blocks: I’m crazy about corner blocks. They let me have fun with the other elements in the border and add another opportunity for color, pattern and decorative stitches.
You’ll find them in many of my designs. In the quilt ornament pictured here the checked corner blocks cover both Gobelin borders.
The next time you want to add some definition — think about adding some borders!