Flange and Faux Flange in Quilts

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Last Updated May 18, 2018

A flange in quilting is adding a strip of folded fabric in the seam of two pieces of fabric. There are two types: three dimensional flange and faux flange (sometimes called flat flange). The image below shows a three dimensional flange.

faux flange

Fold a thin strip of fabric lengthwise with wrong sides together to make a flange. The three dimensional flange shown above finishes about 3/4″. Flanges do not add length or width to the quilt because it is layered between two fabric pieces. Flanges are added to add color or interest to a quilt. I have used them in the past to separate busy fabrics or designs. The straight line of the flange causes our eye to momentarily stop when viewing a quilt. Here is a short (under 2 minutes) video about adding a flange.

Flanges can cause problems when quilting the quilt. If you stitch over the flange then part of the flange is tacked down and parts are not. This could be distracting. An even bigger problem occurs when the flange gets caught up in the quilting machine needle.

Try A Faux Flange

A faux flange is not 3 dimensional. Instead, the flange is sewn down. The faux flange gives the same effect as a three dimensional flange without the problems in machine quilting. Personally, I prefer the look of faux flange because it doesn't lose it's shape after washing.

For either type of flange you'll want to make sure the flange does not interfere with the quilt design. The block shown below has points that touch the seam allowance.

faux flange

Consequently, a flange will “cut off” the points. It is best to use a flange where this does not happen. The block below has floating points, so using a flange here will not interfere with the design.

faux flange

Preparing A Flange

Both types of flange are prepared in the same way.

First, determine what size to cut the flange. In this example we want a finished flange of 1/2″. Multiply the finished size by 2. Add 1/2. Example for 1/2″ finished size:

.5″ x 2  = 1″

1″ + .5″ = 1.5″ or 1-1/2″ so the width is 1-1/2″.

Cut the flange strips this width. With wrong sides together, press the strips in half lengthwise. I use Faultless Maxx spray starch to make it crisp.

  • For a three dimensional flange, I use the starch on the wrong side of the fabric. This helps the fold stay in place as it is sewn.
  • For a faux flange, I use the starch on the right side of the fabric.

faux flange press lengthwise

Attach the Flange

For Three Dimensional Flange:

  • pin or glue the folded flange along the raw edge of the bottom fabric.
  • place the top fabric over the flange.
  • use a scant 1/4″ seam allowance to piece the seam.
  • press toward the top fabric, taking care not to press the flange up.

For Faux Flange:

  • place the flange along the raw edge of the bottom fabric. You might find it helpful to use fabric glue to hold the flange in place.
  • open up the flange and stitch just to the inside of the fold as shown below.

fau flange

Stitching inside the fold ensures the fold remains the same after stitching. Press the flange along the fold and check for placement. You might find it easier to glue the flange together at this point.

faux flange

Stitching Order For Flange

When adding either type of flange to all sides of a unit, block or quilt, you should attach all the flanges before adding the top fabric. The flanges will overlap each other in the corners. add opposite sides first.

faux quilt flange

Next add the remaining sides.

faux flange

Below is a close-up of corner detail. Remember, the length and width of the block remains the same as it started.

faux flange

Now add the top fabric, borders in this case, in the same order as you added the flange.

faux flange

Opposite sides first.

faux flange

Remaining sides.

Flange in Binding

Adding a flange to binding is something I have not done. But in case you are interested here is a great video showing that technique. I can't believe she explains it so clearly in 2 minutes!


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