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30-Minutes with Workroom Tech: Episode 28 / Fabric Flanges


On this episode of The Sew Much More Podcast: 30-Minutes with Workroom Tech, Ceil DiGuglielmo and Susan Woodcock talk about fabric flanges.

You can listen to the podcast here: Episode 28 / Fabric Flanges

A flange is basically a flat lip or band that is sewn in the seam, or inset on pillows, drapery leading edges, or other soft furnishings like slipcovers and duvets. Some people call it an “empty welt”.

A fabric flange is a very popular detail on pillows. It’s an alternative to ruffles, and a more tailored look. To make a flange, cut the strips like you would for ruffles… twice the finished size plus 1-inch for seam allowances (or adjust based on the size seam allowances you prefer). The strips are pressed in half and then sewn in the seam.

Susan will often use a 1-inch flange. "This looks really smart in pillows, but the size can range from 1/2” to as much as 4 inches on a pillow sham". The smaller sized 1/2” flanges are more difficult to apply because any differences in the seam allowance will be very noticeable.

You can also add welt cord next to the flange. It gives you the opportunity to add yet another detail, and there are a lot of ways to finish the flange at the corners of a pillow. It can be joined with a mitered seam, or pleated.

"My favorite way to add a flange is to sew individual pieces to each side of the pillow, so that the flange isn’t joined at the corner", Susan said. "I think that little “V” that’s created at the corner looks sharp, and I’ll be honest – it’s a lot easier to sew"! The boxed pillow pictured below has a 1/2-inch flange sewn in individual pieces.

Boxed pillow with a small flange.

A mitered corner is popular, but it does require an advanced skill level so it has more value. It's a custom touch, and it’s more expensive (you charge more because it takes longer).

Sewing a Fabric Flange with a Mitered Corner

When sewing a flange with a mitered corner, Susan suggests to cut the pillow face and back pieces slightly larger than needed. That will give you some wiggle room.

Then cut and press the four pieces for the flange.

Lay out the flange pieces on the worktable the size of the pillow, taking into account the seam allowance. You will create a frame, folding over and pressing the mitered corners. "I like to add a little fabric glue under the fold to hold the pieces in place until it is sewn". Sew each mitered corner, trim away the excess and fold right sides out and press.

When you pin the flange to the pillow front, you have to clip the seam allowance at each mitered corner to make it turn the corner. It’s best to clip the sewn corner, not the fabric. To keep all the stitches from coming out, add a little iron-on fusible tape inside the flange at the corners, to stabilize the edge so that when you clip, it will not come unstitched. "This is where cutting the pillow a little larger comes in handy. If your flange frame isn’t exactly square, you can fudge it", Susan said.

Sew the flange to the pillow front. When you get to a corner, seat the needle down and pivot...fold the flange out of the way and continue to the next corner

Sew the front to the back, being careful to fold the corners out of the way so that you don’t catch the flange in the seam. An invisible zipper works great in this style. In the photo below, Rebecca with Plucky Pillows is sewing a flanged pillow in class at Workroom Tech.

Rebecca sewing a pillow with flanged and mitered corners in class