Flanges, a little fabric with a big Impact!

Do you like flanges? Ever made one? Added a little nip of color tucked along the inside of a quilt border? They are easier than they look to make and give an elegant lift to a table runner, quilt or wall hanging.

What is a flange? A flange, in sewing terms, is a small folded strip added to a border or other edge. It is simpler to use a flange than to add piping, as no cording is required. It is also easier than trying to make a very narrow border and keep your seams super straight!

A flange can tone down a bright color grouping, or pump up a subtle palette. It adds interest, depth and focus to a project. A flange can subtly repeat a color already used in your project, or you can use a print that contains several colors in your project, or make it in a contrasting color. You can even use two or more different fabrics for a flange.

The most popular and my favorite width is the The 1/4” flange, which uses a 1” strip of fabric, folded wrong sides together (it is now 1/2” wide) and sewn to a border or project center edge. The next border seam uses 1/4”, leaving a 1/4” flange on your project. Flanges can be a bit wider, but I really like the 1/4” for most projects.

Tips for a tidy flange:

1. Starch your 1” strip well, before cutting is optimal, but after is okay, too. This helps your flange align nice and straight for sewing and to lie flat.

2. Use a 3/16” seam to attach your flange. Bigger than 1/8”, but smaller than 1/4”, so that your flange stitching doesn’t peek out when you add the next border.

3. Worried about a floppy flange on a wall hanging? Use MonoPoly or other invisible thread to blanket stitch around the folded edge of your flange. Your flange will be lie secure and the securing stiching won’t be noticed.

4. Do your math. A 1” flange strip folds to 1/2” and after stitching, gives you a 1/4” flange. The flange will also reduce the border or center that it is attached to by 1/4”, which may impact your quilting area or slightly change the look of your border.

Adding a 1/2” (after folding) flange strip to a 1” border.

Here is the project with added flange. Finished width of the flange is 1/4″.

The teal flange cools down the intense purple and bright yellow borders.
Try a two-tone flange! Dark across the top and bottom and light along the sides of the piece.
A bright teal flange breaks up the deep and medium purples.
Finished project with flange added before wide border.
The dark teal grunge flange between the center and the border helps frame this applique piece nicely while emphasing the teal in the border print.
This dark green flange is added added around a decorative center square of a table topper/wall hanging and has decorative metallic stitching added.
Metallic stitching added to the flange. Look really close and you can see a glint from the MonoPoly along the inside of the flange.
The cardinals are nicely framed by this flange! The same fabric is used for the project border.

Flanges are a marvel, providing a big impact for the amount of effort! It is one of my favorite tricks for adding an “artisan” touch to one of my projects.

Happy quilting!



  1. Great tutorial Lennea, I do like using them too! But you have shown every one how easy they are to use. Your flange on your (first photo) sure added the XFactor. Love how such a tiny strip of fabric makes other colours pop or reverse. Thanks again Lennea as I’d not thought of it working in reverse. My lesson for today. Cheers Glenda

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