Flanged Binding

Sometimes you just want to add a little spice to your finished quilts and flanged binding is an easy way to do that. It takes a little longer than regular binding because you have to cut double the amount of strips, but it’s all machine sewn, so it’s kind of a trade off time-wise.

I used flange binding on my Friendship Star Christmas Wreath (the pattern is in my shop!https://bluebeaglequilts.com/product/friendship-star-christmas-wreath) It adds a nice pop of color along the edge of the quilt. So read on my quilty friends, because this is a fun way to add a little something extra to your quilts!

The method used to calculate how much fabric you need for the flanged binding is the same method used for regular binding. First measure your quilt, and add all four sides together plus 12″ or so for overlap and mitering the corners. If you already know how to do this, feel free to skip this bit.

  • My wallhanging measures 30″ x 30″, so the math would be: 30+30+30+30+12= 132″. That means I need 132″ of binding.
  • To figure out the number of strips you need, divide 132″ by the width of your fabric, which is 42″ = 3.14. You’ll need to round up to 4. So you’ll be cutting 4 strips of each color.
  • To figure out the yardage needed, multiply the number of strips needed by the width the strip. The flange strips are 1 3/4″ wide and the main strips are 1 1/2″ wide. For the flange fabric multiply 1.75 by 4 = 7″ of fabric. So I needed 1/4 yard of fabric for the flange. Now for the main fabric, multiply 1.5 by 4 = 6, so again I needed 1/4 yd. Usually this is the case since the strips are very close in width.

Ok, now that the quilty math is out of the way, from here on out we will just talk about making the binding. I made a small quilt sandwich for the tutorial photos, so the colors are different from the wall hanging.

To start with, let’s clarify some terms. The “flange” is that little red bit of binding you see in the wreath wallhanging above, and the “main” fabric is the dark green. For my little demo piece, the flange is black and the main is lime green.

Cut the needed number of main strips at 1 1/2″. Cut the needed number of flange strips at 1 3/4″.

Sew each set of strips together with diagonal seams. Place the first strip down on your machine right side up and put the next right side down perpendicular to each other. Let the edges go past each other like in the photo below, don’t try to line them up at this point – you can use that little valley or “V” to start and stop your sewing. The red arrows point to this V. You can also see the center line on the bobbin cover of my machine, and the line on the bed of my machine at the bottom of the photo are also lined up. Sew along the red dashed line.

I printed out a little pair of pants to further illustrate where to sew the diagonal seam. See below where the pants are laying on the strips? Like the two strips are the pants legs? You want to sew across the “waistline” not through the “crotch”! (ouch) If you ever find yourself sewing through the crotch, it means you have the two strips oriented under your machine wrong, so stop and regroup! You always want the “legs” off to the left of your needle, not straddling the needle.

Below is just another look at the strips being sewn together, this time with the black strips.

Once you’ve sewn the two sets of steps together end to end, trim off all the extra at the seams, and press the seams open.

Lay the strips right sides together and long raw edges on one side even. Since the strips are different widths, of course both long edges won’t match up. That’s exactly what you want. Using a 1/4″ seam, sew the side where the raw edges meet.

Press seam allowance towards the main fabric (lime green in this example). Now match the raw edges wrong sides together, and press well. You should see your little pop of flange color now!

Once I get the binding nice and pressed, I usually put it in a baggie or wrap it around a piece of cardboard or something to keep it straight and kind of contained. Photo on the right is my little quilt sandwich demo piece – cute little kitty cat of Tula Pink’s. I have the binding laying on the right side To you can see how it will look once it’s sewn.

Time to sew it down! This is important – turn your quilt to the BACK. Lay the binding with FLANGE side UP. Leave several inches of binding unsewn. I started sewing about where that first red clip is below. Do a back stitch for security, then using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew until you are 1/4″ from the corner.. Do another back stitch and cut the thread. I’m using white thread so you can see it – I would use matching thread in real life.

Take the quilt out and turn it a quarter turn. Fold the binding straight up. This will make a 45 degree angle – you can see this where the green and the purple meet. I accidentally shot this as a video (eye roll) but you can see how the binding is folded straight up and even with the right edge of the quilt.

Bring the binding back down, so the fold is along the top edge of the quilt and the little 45 degree fold is still underneath. Clip it in place for a few inches. Start in the upper right corner and sewing through all layers, raw edges even, again sew down the side with a 1/4″ seam.

Continue all the way around the quilt, mitering the other corners as well. Stop sewing with several inches of binding unsewn and do a back stitch. You should have two tails flapping around left to be sewn together. The tails need to be trimmed to fit – the simplest way to do it is to take some excess binding, open it up and use that to measure the overlap. You want to the overlap to be equal to the width of the binding, minus a smidge. You can also just measure it with a ruler and mark it and cut the overlap that way. I find it better to use the extra binding to measure because I don’t always make binding the same width, and I’m perfectly capable of cutting the overlap the wrong length… I cut the overlap just a smidge less than measured because I don’t want any excess – I want the binding to join and be nice and flat.

Once you’ve trimmed the binding to fit, open the piece coming from the top of the quilt and have it right side up. Open the piece from the bottom and place it right side down. This time you need to match the edges – not like when we sewed the strips together, so this time there’s no valley or “V” to aim for. Pin in place. If it helps, you could draw your sewing line on the fabric. Again, remember the little pants? Make sure you sew this across the waist line, not the crotch.

After joining the strips, but before you cut the seam allowance – lay the binding down on the quilt and make sure you like the way it lays and that it fits well. When you’re happy, trim the seam allowance and press it open. Lay it back down on the quilt, align the raw edges and finish sewing the binding down.

Trim the corners. Still from the back, press the binding up, and begin to miter the corners.

Turn the quilt to the front and start pressing the binding down. The corners should come together nicely and make a nice miter. I like to glue baste my binding, so as I press it, I use a washable glue stick and run it along the underside of the binding. Then keep ironing the binding down. The glue will hold it well enough and long enough to sew the binding down, without having to clip or pin the whole quilt. However, I do often still use clips near the corners so help keep the corners mitered. The glue does not gum up the needle, and since it’s washable, it comes right out in the washing machine and doesn’t leave the quilt stiff.

Sew down the binding on the FRONT. If you have a ditch foot, now is the perfect opportunity to use it. Use matching thread and sew right along the flange. I used white so you could see it, but in real like I would use black in this case. Sew the entire binding down.

If you want to hand sew the miters on the front, you can do that now. And there you have it! The little pop of black sets off the riot of color in the fun fabric and then the lime green brings out the kitty cat’s little green face. So fun!

If you have any questions, please do email me, I’m very happy to help! Thanks ~Ann