How to Sew a Flange on Quilt Borders and Quilt Bindings
Embellishing a Quilt With a Flange
What is a flange?
Merriam-Webster says that a flange is "a projecting edge of cloth used for decoration on clothing."
Basically it is a tiny strip of fabric that is put between two other fabrics to separate them a little bit or to just add extra interest.The flange draws attention to the center of the quilt, and brings out the colors of the center. It makes the quilt more interesting, and is not difficult to add.
The embellishment is becoming common in quilting, but many quilters don't know what to call it, and wind up making a generic name for it. The book Quilting Bible calls it an "extension," and just used it for decoration on two sides of the project. In the photo on the right, the multi-colored flange is separating the blue quilt top and the red border.
Instead of sewing a flange, you can sew on a tiny quarter inch sash, but it would be hard to work with something so small, and make sure everything is lined up straight. A flange is easier option, and adds a three dimensional interest. A flange can be added inside the border to highlight the center of a quilt. It can also be added just inside the binding. You may want to have several flanges, one for each border. A quilt top can also made with long columns of wide flanges. These flanges can then be sewn down in various ways to provide a three dimensional quilt.
How to Make a Quilt Flange
Follow these step-by-step directions to make a flange. For this section, we will be making a flange to frame all four sides of the binding or border.
1. Cut the Flange Fabric
To make a flange you need four long pieces of fabric, one for each border, one inch wide. Since the fabric is folded in half lengthwise, half an inch will be hidden in the seam allowance, the other half folded will show a quarter inch which peeks out from your border. If you want more flange to show, cut wider than one inch. Alternatively, you can use a ribbon with a finished edge. In this case, since there is no need to fold it, so it can be less than an inch wide, but must be more than a quarter inch wide.
To determine the length, measure the length of quilt top without the borders, Be sure to measure the center of the quilt top instead of the edges to determine the length, so that the flange on both sides are the same size. For example, for a rectangular quilt, I will measure the length of the quilt from the center. If the part of the quilt top I am enclosing with a flange is 15 inches by 20 inches, I will cut two pieces of flange that are 15 inches and two pieces that are 20 inches.
2. Fold and Press
Take all four of your one inch strip, fold them in half lengthwise and press them. You will now have four long half inch wide strips.
3. Pin and Baste
Align the flange so that the fold will be towards the center of the quilt. Pin the flange, raw edges together, on top of the right side of your quilt top. Baste it or sew it on the quilt top using a scant quarter inch seam - or a slightly smaller seam allowance than you generally use. Baste the flange on all four sides first. Just as I would do the borders, I like to add the two on opposite sides first (i.e. both the 20 inch pieces), then the other two opposite sides (i.e. the 15 inch pieces). That way, when you put one flange on top of the other, the folds in the corners all look the same on the finished top. After the video, I will explain how to add the borders.
In the video below, the bottom flange is sewn on after the side borders, so the flange extends past the frame. If you choose to do that, you will need a longer strip of fabric to accommodate the borders.
Adding Flanges to Borders
In the photo on the right, a blue border is added to the piece and the red flange separates the two areas of the same blue fabric. Since the borders will be added onto the quilt top as usual, you will not need to adjust their size to accommodate the flange. Remember though, that all of the measurements for the border will not be the same as the measurement for the flange. The size of two of the border has to be larger to accommodate the other two borders that have been added. Put the lengthwise borders to your quilt top, right sides together, ignoring the flange, and using a regular seam allowance, so the stitching in putting on the flange doesn't show.
A small flange will generally stay out of the way. If you have a bigger flange, you might need to pin it down to make sure the flange doesn't get in the seam allowance. Press. Put on the width wise borders. Pressing is an important step; you want to make sure you keep the flange is facing towards the quilt and the border is facing out.
Adding Flanges to Bindings
To add a flange to a binding, sandwich and quilt first. This will keep the flange from interfering with your quilting. Then baste the flange to your quilt sandwich using a scant 1/4 seam allowance. Then add the binding as usual.
Alternatively, you can also sew the flange and the binding together to the quilt top. The video below shows a different way to add the look of a flange to the binding by sewing a different colored fabric to the binding. This method will give you the two colors, but not the three dimensional effect.
Once you have your quilt together, if you don't like how the corners meet up, a little more decoration will do the trick. A button or bead should be able to hide any flaws. Also since I'm confessing things, since you are using a very tiny strip of fabric, you can sometimes get away with some secrets. Remember the colorful flange at the very top of the page - it's Halloween fabric!
How to Sew a Flange on a Quilt
Embellishing a quilt with a flange is a great way to add a subtle interest to the quilt, as it draws attention to the center of the quilt. It is also easier to make than a skinny sashing. Consider adding a flange to your next quilt. It serves as a visual interest when you use it to separate borders, and is a delightful accent when adding it inside the binding.
© 2011 Shasta Matova
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