Yardage for Piano Key Border: Piano Quilt Border Tutorial

One unique way to decorate your quilt is to use a piano key border. You do not have to be a musician to do this and you are not limited to simply black and white colors. Once you have figured out your measurements then getting the border in place is not that difficult.

Once again, the amount of fabric you will use will depend on the size of your quilt and how big you want your border to be. But for argument’s sake, a 2-inch width to your piano keys will need a 1/2 yard for a 48 by 60-inch quilt for one side.

To learn more about piano key borders and the yardage needed to make them, just continue to read our article. It is filled with more interesting information to motivate you to add this type of border to your quilt.

Yardage for Piano Key Border


Calculating the total yardage can be difficult as the piano keys can be cut to different lengths and widths. Some sewers use up to 3 different widths in their borders. Then they only use scraps to get the material.

That makes it hard to figure out how much yardage you will need. Fortunately, there is a good yardage calculator online that will help you out. You will need that calculator if you are going to be adding the same border all the way around your quilt.

With the above example, you will need 2 yards of material to complete all sides of your quilting project. Your exact total will be different from that if your quilt is going to be larger or smaller than 4 ft by 6 ft in dimensions.

To get to the calculator that is easy to use, just click this link. It is not hard to use and once you understand that you have to enter a number for each side of the quilt, the results come quickly.

Using a calculator may be cheating in some people’s eyes but when you do not have the time to do the math, they certainly come in handy.

How to Calculate Piano Key Border

Doing the math in your head is not hard either if you went to school when they did not allow students to use calculators in math class. it is basic math that you will need and everyone should have that ability already.

For example, if one side of your quilt is 60 inches long then all you would need would be 30 piano keys at 2 inches wide to make your border- 60 divided by 2 = 30. Then you would need to add in 1/2 inch per key for the seam allowance.

If the length of the border is 48 inches long then you would need 48- 1 inch wide piano keys. if they are using that small of a patch of fabric. The real calculation comes in when you want 2 1/2, 3 1/4, or 1 3/4 inch wide piano keys.

Be prepared to get a pencil and a piece of paper out to make your calculations and don’t forget to add in your seam allowance. If you are not good at math, then use the calculator we linked to in the previous section.

How to Make a Piano Key Quilt Border


Making a piano key border is simple sewing for most experienced sewers. It is just more time consuming than complicated. Once you have made your choice of fabric and colors you want on your quilt, you then have to calculate how many keys you want per side.

After you have made those decisions and the width of each key, you have to cut the fabric to size. make sure to add a little for the seam allowance or you will be making more cuts than you had planned on.

Once that is done, all you do is sew the fabric pieces into place. This is the time-consuming part. Some borders may need a stay stitch while others just simply need to be held together. Also, some sewers use a foundation while others omit that detail.

Remember that the width of the keys should be appropriate for the size of the quilt you are making. That means there is no one size fits all design. Also, you are free to use any color you want as long as it makes your quilt look good.

There is no sense to push the envelop here or think outside the box as those designs may not be appropriate or pretty.

Machine Quilting Piano Key Border

This may be the easiest way to get the sewing done but using your sewing machine will still take a lot of time. There is just no way around using up at that time. Experienced sewers may be able to go fast but if you are just starting to do the border for the first time, it is best to be slow and cautious.

One of the hardest things about making a piano key border is avoiding getting that wavy look. You can sew the sides first, then the top and bottom after that. Sometimes you can get away with using a block in the corners to make everything look just right.

Even with machine sewing, you can alternate the widths of your keys to make the quilt more attractive. This will add to the number of keys you are sewing and will add to your sewing time.

The great thing about piano key borders and what makes that type of border so attractive to do is that sewers get to use up all their scrap materials. This is no different when you are using your machine to do the sewing.

Piano Key Quilt Border Corners


In this situation, you have a little choice. It will depend on which style of corner you like to do and which is easiest for you to do. Some sewers like to miter their corners but they do not do it because it is fun and exciting.

They do the mitering because it provides a great visual effect and that is what they want from their quilt. Others do the block method and that can be done either as a solid block or pieced together. They do it because it is the easiest way to handle those corners.

With mitering, you may end up with a little problem where the keys may not match when joined together. In that case, you should alter a couple of the keys along the side to match up and have the quilt looking like a professional did it.

It is better to have a small difference in the middle of the keys as it is less noticeable there than it will be at the corners. if you can ease the border sin then you should be able to avoid that wavy look.

Also, make sure to measure your quilt from the top through the center both ways to get an accurate border.

Piano Key Quilt Border Pattern

This will depend on your preferences as you have a lot of freedom here. Some quilters simply use the same color of fabric they used for the rest of the quilt. It works for them and keeps a little continuity to your overall color scheme.

Other sewers will use a color or pattern that makes the quilt look great but not the same color as the rest of the materials used. They either make the keys the same widths or they alternate those widths to create a real piano effect.

Then there are those quilters who are also musicians. They prefer to make their piano key borders out of black and white colors to match the actual piano keyboard. The key to making a great border is to follow one rule of thumb.

What is appropriate for the quilt you are making. It is okay to be creative and innovative but if it isn’t appropriate for the quilt, then stifle those tendencies. Thinking outside the box is only good for specific activities and when you do not have to look at the results daily.

Sewing Piano Key Border Tips

  • 1. You do not need to use a foundation to make a piano key border. That is an optional step and some sewers prefer not to add it into their workload.
  • 2. You should stay stitch the outside edge before putting the material on your sewing machine. This will help keep the fabric in place.
  • 3. Do the technique that is best for you. Some people miter their corners others do blocks. There is no absolutely correct way to handle the corners except to make sure they stay together and look good when you are done.
  • 4. There is no right or wrong width or length for piano keys but use a little common sense and follow the rule of thumb that is appropriate for the quilt you are making.
  • 5. Save all your scraps. Not only does this provide you with lots of material for piano key borders, it provides you with a color selection to help your quilt look better.
  • 6. If you can’t do the math then use a fabric calculator. It will save you time and frustration when things are not working out for you.
  • 7. It is okay to alternate the width of the keys but not the length. You have a little creativity here using different widths to make your quilt pop better.
  • 8. Your keys should be deeper than the widest width of your keys. That way you retain that rectangular look throughout the pattern.
  • 9. What using the foundation does for you is to remove the stretch in the fabric. You can cut along the grain to achieve the same effect.​
  • 10. divide the fabric for your borders into four equal piles. That way you can distribute the colors more evenly and helps keep you from using one dominant color per side.

Quilting Ideas for Piano Key Border


There are many ways to make a piano key border. Getting some ideas will help you create new looks as well as get you out of a rut. You can experiment sometimes but do not go too far out there when experimenting. Keep the rule of thumb in mind as you work and brainstorm.

  • 1. You can try a staggered look. Few people have seen that but be careful it may not look so good which is why few people have seen it.
  • 2. You can do a random color selection to give your quilt a unique look. This works if one color does not dominate one side and they are not clashing colors.
  • 3. The block corners are the easiest technique to use. With miter corners, you may have trouble matching up the keys and have them look right.
  • 4. Depending on the purpose and the design of the quilt, you are free to vary the widths or make them all the same. Just remember if you are giving the quilt away as a gift, what looks good to you may not look good to the recipient.
  • 5. To personalize the quilt, add the name of the person who is getting the blanket. This will take a little more time but it will use up more scraps and let the person know you are thinking about them.

Some Final Words

Making piano key borders is only time-consuming. Many experienced sewers like to do them because they are fun, easy, and uses up all their scraps. How you make your borders will be up to you especially for widths, lengths, and colors so choose wisely and follow the rule of thumb.

Quilting is not the best place to think outside the box and become a modern artist with exotic tastes in color or designs.

Leave a Comment: