Monday, 29 December 2014

Tutorial on Dog Tooth Border Applique.

One of my friends in an online group has completed her Baltimore Album Quilt, doing all the blocks by hand with incredible skill, it is a real beauty. Shehas blogged her progress on her blog here.

However having put all this work in, the border that came with the pattern will leave her with a quilt too big for her bed.  The original design had a border 12 or 15".

There is an 1850s quilt on this blog post with a double dog tooth border. This seems a good solution (and a lovely running feather quilted up between them would look fabulous).  Scroll down until you see the Old Otterbein Quilt.

There are a few ways of stitching a dogtooth border. Paper foundation piecing is the most obvious but this quilt is entirely appliqued by hand, this would be the wrong solution for this particular quilt. So here is my preferred way of appliqueing it.

Start by drawing it out on paper and cut a dog tooth border. This is to see that the scale is right.

Then see how you will handle the corners. In this case I think a half square red triangle on the diagonal will do nicely.

Of course on the inner border the teeth will point the other way.

For Linda's quilt the teeth are one inch high and one inch wide at the base.

So I cut a strip one and a half inches wide and pressed the top over one quarter of an inch.

I stitched it down half way between the edge and the seam line. (I would cut the background fabric with at least 1/2" preferably a whole inch all round to trim down later as it is bound to fray on such a long straight edge.) This will hold the applique in place all along the border and stop you stretching or shrinking it (most people do one or the other).

Mark your dog tooth applique every half inch along the top and every inch along the outer edge. Use whatever marking method your prefer. If you end up with a half inch too little, then add 1/16" to the last every other 8 marks, if it is half an inch too big then reduce it by the same. Just adjust it by however many 1/16ths of an inch you need. It will NOT show.

Imagine a line on the diagonal between the mark on the inner edge of the tooth and the outer edge. Then cut about 3/16ths of an inch outside that line.

Fold it under and stitch right to the point. Make the last stitch catch the very end of it. I have used thick black thread and big stitches so you can see what I am doing.

Then move along to the next mark along the top and cut down to within two or three threads of the seam line. Be brave or do a little sample piece to get the hang of it.

Applique down this side of the tooth, making 3 or 4 deeper stitches in the extreme point of the V to strengthen it.

Then applique up to the top again and so on until it is finished.

This way of doing it ensures the tips of the teeth are all the same height (and a difference in height shows up far more than a difference in width).

If you are appliqueing by machine you can cut each tooth and glue it down, then stitch the row in one go. Just make sure you have a stitch at the top and reduce you stitch length and increase you width of stitch at the bottom between each tooth.


  1. Thanks for the great visuals and instructions, Sally! I so appreciate it!

  2. Thank you Sally. Understood it all and will give it a try.

  3. Looks an excellent way to do the border - great tutorial!

  4. I did mine similar with Abi's quilt but didn't press the top fabric over. Yours is a much better method. Great tutorial!

  5. Seeing that lovely quilt reminds me that I should get on with my Mary Simon too!

  6. Excellent tutorial and amazing quilt!!!!!! It will be a perfect finish for this!

  7. Thank you, Sally - a great tutorial and very helpful.

  8. Morning Sally thanks so much for a great tutorial a special thanks for taking the time to take so many step by step photo's it is so easy to understand; Beautiful blocks in this heirloom quilt what a joy it must be to see it in person. Cheers Glenda