By Barb Bergquist
When someone used the term, flange, I always thought of a hardware store and the plumbing supplies section. So when a quilter used the term, flange, the first time in reference to quilting, I’m sure I had a bewildered look on my face. But once I learned about quilting flanges, I was excited to try it out myself.
What is a flange, in quilting terms? Well, Webster has no definition, but it is simply a fabric accent that you can add to your quilting project. A flange is like a thin fold of fabric sewn into a seam that adds dimension. The flange can be added at the edge of a block for extra color without adding another border, or it can added at the binding, possibly to tie together extra color between the binding and the pieced top.
Now just as anything quilting, likely multiple methods are available to make a flange, but the way I’m going to explain the process will be simple for even the beginner to understand.As with anything, you start by deciding how wide you want your flange. Some are as narrow as 1/8” and a wide one can be 1/2". For my example that I created, I chose a 1/4" flange. So you will need 1/4" for each the top and bottom side of the flange and 1/4" for each seam allowance. So 1/4" times 2 for the flange and 1/4" times 2 for each seam allowance is 1”. So for my example, I cut a 1” strip for my flange. If you chose a 1/8” flange, you would cut a 3/4" strip. Got it? So now that you know how wide your flange strip is, cut one long enough to go around whatever you are accenting with the flange.
Next, you will press the flange strip in half lengthwise with wrong sides together.
Now you are ready to sew it. To make this easy from this point forward, I am going to refer to a quilt block and a border in the process, but a flange can go on a pieced top or along the binding also. On the right side of the block, lay the raw edges of the flange even with the raw edge of the block with the fold of the flange facing the center of the block. Sew the flange to the quilt block using a very scant 1/4" seam. This seam can be as little as 1/8” because you want to ensure that it doesn’t show even after adding the border. Sew the first side and when finished cut the flange at the end of the side. Do this on all four sides.
Next, sew the border on as you normally would with a 1/4" seam on all four sides.
Press the border open with the seam towards the border.
Now that you have the border pressed, you will notice that the flange can be lifted hence giving the piece a little bit of depth.
With this process finished, you can see how the flange accents both the block and the border, giving an extra pop of color and a little extra dimension. Give it a try; I think you will like it as much as I do!
Barb Bergquist along with husband, Ron, own A Block Away Quilt Shop. A dedicated quilter with more than 25 years of experience, she is now actively sharing her love of quilting through the work in her shop.