Tips for Success with Mirror-Image Fabrics

Mirror image blogMy border prints and many of my paisleys can create wonderful effects when fussy-cutting their mirror-imaged designs.  We’ve gotten a few questions lately from quilters who have had trouble matching those mirror-images whether in patches for blocks or in borders. In today’s blog, I’d like to give you a little advice to make the process easier. If border print fabrics are new to you, click here for a video of how my border print fabrics are designed.

First, press your fabric before you begin to cut. Remove any creases and distortion.

It is always best to use templates when working with mirrored fabrics. Mark a line directly on the template to indicate where the mirror motif should be. Use care when cutting.  That seems a bit obvious, but taking the time to make accurate cuts pays off in the end.  Make sure that the mirror line is centered on the mirror-imaged motif you have chosen. You can also use the straight line on the border print itself as a guide. We have wonderful resources on our website for various effects you can achieve with border prints and much more.

Carnival uses fussy cut patches to create a unique design.

Carnival uses fussy cut patches to create a unique design.

Now, let’s do one more thing before sewing.  Despite your best efforts, the design may not be exactly the same on the cut edges. Don’t worry! Take the first two pieces to be sewn and, with right sides together, line up the fabric design. The cut edges may not be even with each other, but it will work out as all the pieces will slightly off by the same amount. To line up the designs, find an edge or point on the fabric design near the seam line and put a pin through this spot first on the top fabric, then through the exact same point on the bottom. Repeat as often as you like. Working with bias cut edges will give you any stretch you need to match these points but use care to not distort the fabric.

Sophia quilt

Intricate medallions are created in the Sophia quilt using a border print.

For many machine sewers, especially when sewing long seams, basting the seam first is a way to insure accuracy.  Increase your stitch length and take large stitches the length of the seam. You can then take a peek to make sure each of the motifs mirror perfectly. Then you can go ahead and sew with your normal stitch length.

block 6 col

A block from the 2013 BOM, Solstice

block 6

Same block as above but with a light background and the Ashford border.

I’ve added a new page to the “Tips and Lessons” section of my website on the process of fussy cutting patches using my Carnival quilt as an example.  Once you start playing with mirror-image border prints and paisleys, you’ll be amazed at the fantastic designs you can create.  I hope you give it a try.