Aug 18, 2008

Flatfold Tutorial

Just what IS a "flatfold" anyway?

My answer: It’s a finishing technique used to display stitched projects. It’s easel-shaped, stand-alone design is an alternative to framing.

Ever since I taught an online Needlebook Class, my students have been prodding encouraging me to teach another online class. So I came up with my second interactive tutorial class for flatfolds. You can see photos of the finished flatfolds HERE.

If anyone uses my instructions to create a flatfold, I'd love it if you sent me a pic so I can add it to my album. :)

Here's my step-by-step instructions for creating a flatfold:

Materials Needed:• A stitched piece at least 4 1/2" by 4 1/2" in size. It can be bigger, even up to 5" by 7" or a little larger. Personally I think anything smaller than 4x4" will be difficult to work with.

• Coordinating cotton fabric of your choice. You'll need a little more than 4 times the size of your stitched piece, so calculate yardage accordingly. I've found that the quilt flats (18x22" fabric) are perfect. Or look in the odds and ends bin at the fabric stores to see if there's anything that might work.

• Lace, ribbon, or cording

• Flat quilt batting - again, the amount depends on size of your stitched piece. You'll need 4 times the size of your stitched piece. I used "Soft & Bright Needled Polyester Batting", Craft Size 34x45" from JoAnn Fabrics.

• 4 pieces of thin, but sturdy cardboard. Approximately the size of your stitched piece. (See Tips at the end of the tutorial)

Small binder clips, spring clothes pins, or something similar.

• Ruler

• Craft Tacky Glue (regular white glue won't be as easy to use)

• Scissors

• Craft Knife

• Pencil

• Iron and Ironing Board

Once your piece is stitched, wash and press it.

Determine how big you would like your flatfold to be. My stitched piece is approximately 5 by 5" and I decided that I wanted my flatfold to be 6 by 7.25". After deciding what size you want your finished flatfold to be, add 1" to each side. So fabric size would be 8 by 9.5".

Use the ruler to measure out four cardboard pieces to the size of your flatfold. It's important that all the cardboard pieces be the same size! Use the craft knife with a cutting mat underneath to cut the cardboard pieces.

TIP: Once you've drawn your lines on the cardboard, use the craft knife to score (cut a light line) over your drawn lines. You don't have to press hard, just hard enough to cut a bit through. Go slow the first time. Then go over it again a bit harder, and possibly a third time until it cuts all the way through. Sometimes, I will place a ruler along the drawn line and run the craft knife along the edge of the ruler.

Cut four pieces of batting approximately the same size as the cardboard. A little larger won't matter because you can trim it off later.

Cut two pieces of fabric approximately 2" wider and taller than the cardboard. This means your fabric will be 1" wider than the cardboard on all 4 sides. For my FF, the fabric size would be 8x9.25".

Cut the third piece of fabric the same width as the other two and 4-6" longer. The length would depend on the height of your FF. For my FF, the size would be 8x13.5".

Cut your last piece of fabric 3" wide by 10" long. Use a ruler to make sure it's 3" wide the entire length. This will be helpful later on.

Using the steam setting on the iron, press your fabric pieces so there are no wrinkles or fold marks. If needed, press your stitched piece (on the back side, face down on a towel).

As you can see, I wasn't too concerned about the accuracy on cutting the batting and fabric. The cardboard pieces all should be the exact same size, though!

Using craft glue, glue one piece of batting to each piece of cardboard. After gluing, if batting is larger than the cardboard, trim it so that both are the same size.

Glue the two smaller pieces of fabric to the batting, cardboard. Place fabric face down. Place cardboard on top,centered, with batting side down. I know a lot of people have difficulty with the corners. I've found it easiest to glue the corners first.

Then glue opposite sides of cardboard. When gluing, use care to keep the fabric at the corners snug and tight. You might want to keep a damp cloth nearby to wipe your fingers because the glue will seep through the fabric.

Place your stitched piece face down. Place cardboard on top, centered with batting side down. Glue it the same way as previously mentioned. A helpful tip: Sometimes heavier fabrics are harder to keep in place until the glue is dried. Use straight pins to to hold the glued fabric, especially at the corners.

Glue the final piece of fabric (the one with the extra 6") to the cardboard/batting the same as the rest, leaving the 6" overhanging. Do not glue that part to the cardboard. I usually put a small amount of glue between the folded over fabric layers so that they lay nice and flat. I also make the folds so that both sides angle slightly toward each other at the end opposite of the cardboard. Doing this will eliminate a possible overhang of fabric later. From now on, I'm going to refer to this as the "flap".

NOTE: If your stitched piece is less than 6" tall your flap does not need to be 6" long. The flap should be about 1/2 to 2/3 as long as your sitched piece.

Place the piece with the flap on table with fabric facing the table, and wrong side facing up. Put glue on the flap. Place another fabric covered cardboard on top of the flap, wrong side face down. The sides of the flap should be angled in so that you don't see the material close to the edge. Be sure that the ends are butted up tight against each other. Let dry.

Take the 3" wide piece of fabric and place right down on the ironing board. Bring each long edge to the center and press.

Spread a small amount of glue on the wrong side of the fabric to hold the fabric flat in the center. Use only a small amount of glue down the length.

NOTE: If you want to put lace or piping border around your FF, now would be a good time to do that. Glue your lace/piping to the backside of the stitched piece around the edge. I always start gluing at the center bottom edge because it's less noticeable when the two ends come together. If you're using piping, you may want to notch the piping material (not the piping itself) at the corners so that they ease around them better.

Glue the strip to the bottom edge of the hinged fabric piece created in Step 4. The strip should be glued with the center cut facing up. Let dry.

Glue the last fabric-covered piece of cardboard to the hinged piece, on the side that you just glued the strip onto. Wrong sides should be facing each other. Use clothes pins or binder clips to hold them together until the glue dries. For a neater finish, place the glue close to the edges of the cardboard.

Take the left side and fold it toward the right side. Take the strip and glue it to the top of the (left) side you just folded over. You may need to trim the strip if it's too long. Let dry.

Glue the stitched piece to the front of the of the easel you just created. Wrong sides should be facing each other. Use clothes pins or binder clips to hold them together until the glue dries. For a neater finish, place the glue close to the edges of the cardboard. Let dry for 24 hours.

Once the glue is dry, you can glue cording, ribbon, or string beads around the edges. Or you can add pins like a pinkeep.

As you can see, I chose to add cording to mine. Straight pins help to keep the cording in place while the glue is drying.

Design: Peace On Earth
Designer: Linda Stolz
Fabric: 10ct gray aida
Fibers: mini suede, perle cotton,
overdyed, fuzzy stuff, fyreworks
Embellishments: Mill Hill glass stars

Congrats on making your flatfold!

There have been numerous questions as to what kind of cardboard to use.

I'm big on recycling, so I use the thin sturdy cardboard that comes with paperstock at work (It just gets thrown away anyway).

You could also use scrap pieces of mat board. Places that do framing would be happy to sell you small pieces really cheap.

One of my students, Joy, recycled cereal boxes. She glued the pictorial portions together. Depending on how large the flatfold is, one may choose to add a third layer. She also glued together some cracker boxes (Townhouse) and says the strength is pretty good.

Several people have tried corrugated cardboard and the results weren't very good. It makes a flatfold very bulky and the edges not very neat. So if you can find an alternative, try to avoid using it.

©2008 All rights reserved.


Julie said...

You make this look easy! Thanks for the info!

Nessa G. said...

Wow, you explain things so nicely even "I" understand them! Very nicely done.

Barb said...

I'm going to have to try to do this. Thanks for the instructions.

Paisley said...

Wow, Meari! Excellent tutorial! Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

And a huge THANK YOU for teaching this class. It was fun learning a new finishing technique. I can't wait for the next one. :)

Lisa said...

Again, wonderful, clear pictures and instructions, thanks for this, Meari! :-)

Annie said...

Thank you for posting this Meari. I will now finish my flatfold and send you a picture!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Meari. I really think I can make one now. ;D I copied your directions into a MS Word format & printed it out. Already have 2 projects picked out to finish up this way.
Barb in TX

Shannon said...

Thanks for explaining it so clearly!

Carol R said...

Great flatfold tutorial Meari - thanks for sharing.

Debra said...

Meari, I heard about your class from Nancy! LOL! You did a great job. You have an award-check out my blog.
Debra in Indiana

Suzann said...

Awesome directions! Thanks for sharing.

Alberta said...

Thanks Teacher Meari! Once again concise directions with great photos. Love the holiday deer - very cooling during our latest heat wave.

Betty said...

Fantastic tutorial, Meari! You did a wonderful job!

stitcherw said...

You did a wonderful job on the tutorial, and the finished flatfold looks great. I especially like the way you did the cording at the top. The little bit of looping and then the bow set it off perfect. Nice and simple like the design so it didn't overwhelm it.

Bev M said...

I think even I might be able to do this - thanks a ton!

glenda said...

thanks Meari!! I am anxious to make on of these.

Binky's Blog said...

Thank you Meri, I am going to make one in the next few days and will post a pic. :)
Brenda --Stitcher's Circle (yahoo group)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your wonderful tutorial. I made one last night and just LOVE IT.

You can see photos here:

Again, thank you so much! This was my first but definitely won't be my last!


paula said...

Thank you for the great instructions. HAve you ever heard of Joliprint? It allows people to print your post . . it woul have been SO NICE fo this tutoria. Yours is the best I have seen.

océane10 said...

Le flat fold est un magnifique petit cadre !

Unknown said...

Thanks for the info, here's my result!

Kate said...

Beautiful explanation, very detailed but so easy to follow. Now, I can't wait to make a flatfold! Thank you very much.

Sandy98221 said...

Thank you for your excellent instructions for making a flat fold. Mine is sitting under a heavy box now while the glue dries. Also thank you for keeping it up for so long. I would be nice to be able to print these out for future use. Thank you so much.

Kitra said...

Thank you for posting this! I love this finish and here is my first attempt :)

Shiela said...

This looks so easy. I want to try it but I'm not sure about attaching homemade cording. Where do I start and how do I make it look seamless?

Deb said...

Thank you for the tutorial!

Julia said...

Thanks for this! Great way to display cute cross-stitch projects! Can't believe I hadn't thought of this before! I've finished countless small Christmas cross-stitch projects with fabric-covered cardboard and I'm fussy about ironing things like you are, hiding anything that might look "unfinished", etc., so your instructions are exactly the way I would do it too! Next Christmas I will be doing a few of these for sure! Thanks again!