Tips for Sewing with Flannel

Posted by on 2/17/2018 to Newsletters

Winter is HERE! Cold weather means cozy quilts - and what's better to cuddle up with than warm, cozy, soft flannel? But quilting and sewing with flannel can be tricky - it doesn't behave like your standard quilting cottons. So here are some tips for working with flannel.

  1. Buy more fabric than you think you will need - at least 1/4 yard more. Flannels shrink and fray more than traditional quilting cotton when washed and dried.
  2. If pre-washing, use mild detergent and no bleach. To minimize fraying, put your flannel inside a large pillowcase and pin shut.
  3. Dry on a high setting to get maximum shrinkage (better before than after you've sewn your project!). Add a large bath towel into the dryer - this helps prevent twisting and minimizes wrinkles and creases. Don't overdry though.
  4. If your project is a quilt, choose a simple design, with large, uncomplicated blocks. Avoid sewing with tiny pieces.
  5. Flannel has more stretch than quilting cotton so PRESS, don't iron. Also you can spray starch before cutting. This not only helps prevent stretching, but also helps any slide and possible fraying. Handle your flannel with care.
  6. Larger flannel pieces make it easier to control stretching, so again, choose a simple quilt pattern.
  7. Now is the time to use your large (60mm) rotary cutter!
  8. Use a new, sharp needle, size 12/80
  9. Increase your stitch length to 3 (12 stitches/inch). A shorter stitch length can add a stretch the flannel and makes it harder to pull out a seam if you make a mistake :)
  10. Do not use steam when pressing. (Remember - don't IRON!)
  11. Clean your bobbin area often. Flannel leaves a lot of lint behind.
  12. As flannel is a heavier weight than quilting cotton, use a low-loft batting. 
  13. If you are machine quilting, use a longer stitch length.
  14. For hand quilters, use perle cotton.
  15. You'll need a slightly wider strip for binding to compensate for the weight of flannel. Cut at least 2.5 in. wide for a French fold (or double fold) binding.

What can you make with flannel?

Clothing such as scarves, baby layettes, shirts, pajama pants, jacket lining, nightgowns, bathrobes
Blankets! Just think of cuddly baby receiving blankets or as backing of fleece blankets. Rag quilts.
Bedding such as for cribs or entire bed sets. It’s incredible snuggly for winter!
Baby bibs, burb cloths
Dog beds, blankets.
Stuffed animals and other plushies

Enjoy!

~Marlene

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