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All About Flannel Fabric

Jun. 25, 2021

All About Flannel Fabric

First of all, what is flannel? What gives it a baby-like soft feel? Flannel fabric has been around for centuries and is a soft fabric made of wool, cotton or synthetic fibers. However, many things sold in physical stores these days are made of cotton, so I will focus my attention on this type of fabric.

What makes the fabric surface soft and fluffy is a mechanical process that uses a fine metal brush to enhance the fabric's fibers, creating its characteristic dozing effect. Although technically speaking, both sides can be brushed, the most widely distributed flannel only brushes one side. The brushed surface of the flannel and the open tissue of the cloth help to retain air, which is to keep the clothes warm to wear.

Flannel has become a popular sewing choice. In addition to its low cost, there are also a variety of solid fabrics and printed fabrics, which can attract almost anyone of any age, from babies to adults. Although flannel may be the most suitable item for babies and children, it has a wide range of uses and is a good choice for making various crafts and projects, from quilts to toys, household items, casual wear, sleeping bags, pajamas, slippers, scarves and hats, pet clothing... In addition, it can also be used as a lining or interlayer material to add warmth to the project.

Top tips for sewing with flannel

When sewing clothes with cotton flannel, it is generally a very easy-to-use fabric, but there are a few points to keep in mind...

Serge Flannel

Serge Flannel

1. Pre-shrink.

Because most of the flannel is 100% cotton, this fabric shrinks when washed (a lot!), so if the clothes you plan to make are machine-washed, you must pre-shrink the cut size before sewing. Use heat to set the washer and dryer to minimize the process.

2. Buy more.

Buy a little more than the recommended model. Generally speaking, consider the degree of fabric shrinkage when preshrinking, preferably 1/8 to 1/4 yard.

3. Be careful when opening the line.

Because of the loose organization, flannel is more delicate than most hard cotton fabrics, so be careful when you unsew the seams to avoid yarn breaks and fabric holes.

4. Use fresh thread and needle.

Flannel is relatively rough on needles and cutting tools. Ordinary universal polyester thread works well for cotton flannel.

5. Flannel may be messy.

Loose fabrics and hairy surfaces will produce a lot of wool, especially inside and around the sewing machine, so after using flannel, be sure to clean the bobbin case and around the needle shaft of the sewing machine.

6. Seam and seam finishing.

Depending on the thickness of the flannel, flat seam compression is sufficient. The cut edges will fray, so some form of polishing is required. Selvedge with serger is the most effective way to trim and prevent wear. As an option, make a zigzag stitch along the seam edge, or use lock shears to trim and zigzag stitch at the same time.

For light flannel, I prefer to fold up the seams and put them together to make the bottom surface clean and tidy. Both of these eliminate fraying, but when trimmed to a 3/8" seam allowance, they will not curl or bundle with washing.

7. Use the smooth-edged tracing wheel to mark.

Due to the delicate nature of the fabric, when marking with tracing paper, use a marking tool with a smooth edge instead of the spoke wheel marking tool to avoid leaving any small holes in the fabric.

8. Apply techniques to prevent shifting and stretching during sewing.

As a loose fabric, it has a tendency to stretch and shift when sewing, so when using it for clothing or complex projects, keep the stitches bent. In addition, consider using walking feet to prevent the fabric layers from shifting during sewing. In order to make the fabric completely stable, especially when quilting, spray starch on the bottom of the fabric. Let it dry completely before sewing.

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