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Thread: Help!!! Flannels don't follow the rules

  1. #1
    Super Member Quilt Mom's Avatar
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    A friend of my DDs' is pregnant, and due in September. So I took out the baby colors I have to make a quilt. It happened that they are all flannels. Well, I have backed quilts with flannel before, but never pieced the tops of flannel. I merrily cut out all the pieces and started to sew them together. Low and behold, the flannel doesn't 'play' as well as the cottons I normally piece with. I had some that stretched, and when I was strip piecing for a rail fence block, strips that started out the same didn't end together...
    :(

    What suggestions do you have to help me in the process?

  2. #2
    Super Member cabbagepatchkid's Avatar
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    I don't have any advice but I have learned, on this forum, that flannels shrink like crazy after getting washed so it's a good idea to wash the fabric before cutting it.

    One thing that I have done is the past when using fabrics that don't play by the rules is to pin, pin, pin and pin some more. I ease the longer fabric onto the smaller fabric by pinning at both ends, then at the center and then evenly along the length of the seam. I hope this makes sense to you.

  3. #3
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    Prewash. Prewash. Prewash.

    Actually, some people do wash their flannels more than once before cutting them to get as much shrinkage out of them as possible.

    If you are cutting strips, I think it would be helpful to cut them on the way that has less stretch - usually the lengthwise grain that is parallel to the selvage.

    So when you sew the strips together, they might "play" better together.

    Also, depending on your flannel, make wider/deeper seams than 1/4 inch.

    The lighter/flimsier the flannel, the deeper the seam. Minimizes the chance of the seams pulling apart.

  4. #4
    Super Member virtualbernie's Avatar
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    walking foot, walking foot, walking foot :-)

  5. #5
    Super Member SuziC's Avatar
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    I agree with this advice.....prewash and walking foot

  6. #6
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    My very first quilt was an around the world with 3" flannel blocks!!! I did wash it a few times first, and then to deal with the stretching, a slow laborious project before I had a walking foot, was stitch half way down the block, take out, and stitch down the other side, meeting n the middle. What a job, but, the corners matched and the quilt is 7 years old and washed a zillion times and still in every day use.

  7. #7
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
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    Same as above. Always pre-wash flannels. I don't usually pre-wash my cottons but always the flannels because they do not play well together.

  8. #8
    Cyn
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    I agree with all this advice especially the wider seams as I have had a few come apart after washing before I did wider seams.

  9. #9
    MarthaVA's Avatar
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    Try starching them heavily. Since you've already cut everything I don't think you can wash it now....so starch it and that will help with the moving of the fabric. And I mean HEAVY - many sprays and ironings. And don't push the fabric around - spray, then set the iron down on the square, then starch, set the iron down, repeat. Till its stiff. Then be VERY careful sewing.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarthaVA
    Try starching them heavily. Since you've already cut everything I don't think you can wash it now....so starch it and that will help with the moving of the fabric. And I mean HEAVY - many sprays and ironings. And don't push the fabric around - spray, then set the iron down on the square, then starch, set the iron down, repeat. Till its stiff. Then be VERY careful sewing.
    That's what I was going to say, "Starch, Starch, and more Starch until it's stiff."

  11. #11
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    pre wash in piping hot water

  12. #12
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Aside from prewashing (I wash and dry in the dryer twice), I heavily starch flannels before cutting. This stabilizes it so it doesn't stretch out of shape with handling.

    The process I use is (1) mix a 1:1 solution of Sta-Flo liquid laundry starch and water, (2) apply to fabric with a large wall painting brush, (3) when fabric is saturated I toss it in the dryer, and (4) iron with steam. This leaves the flannel with the stiffness of light cardstock -- very stable for precise cutting and piecing.

    It's a good idea to use 1/2-inch seams with flannel too.

    Since your pieces are already cut out, you might want to make a rag quilt out of them instead of the usual pieced quilt.

  13. #13
    Super Member Quilt Mom's Avatar
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    Because of my time here on the board, I knew to prewash to shrink the flannel, so that shouldn't be a problem. I will have to try the starch. Rag quilts take a larger seam, too, so I guess I better get ready to cut more fabric whatever solution I use.

    Thanks, everyone for all your input. :-)

  14. #14
    Super Member lalaland's Avatar
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    And when you iron, don't use steam. That will stretch the flannel.

  15. #15
    Super Member Quilt Mom's Avatar
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    Ooooo. I did not know that steam stretches flannels. Thanks for the tip.

  16. #16
    Power Poster littlehud's Avatar
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    I always have to prewash flannel. Then it behaves for me.

  17. #17
    Senior Member barbrdunn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quilt Mom
    Ooooo. I did not know that steam stretches flannels. Thanks for the tip.
    Yes, I have actually had flannel that was prewashed "grow" back to it's original size when I steamed it. It can also happen while starching too.

  18. #18
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I should add that it's okay to use steam if you pre-starch with my method -- which involves saturating the flannel with starch and tossing in the dryer first. With this method there is enough dried starch in the fabric that the steam simply activates the starch without stretching the flannel.

  19. #19
    Senior Member barbrdunn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prism99
    I should add that it's okay to use steam if you pre-starch with my method -- which involves saturating the flannel with starch and tossing in the dryer first. With this method there is enough dried starch in the fabric that the steam simply activates the starch without stretching the flannel.
    That is great to know...I will try it next time I use flannel. Thanks for the tip.

  20. #20
    Super Member Quilt Mom's Avatar
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    Well, here's the result. Thanks for your help, everyone.

    baby quilt of all flannels (sorry, the pic is sideways)
    Name:  Attachment-102786.jpe
Views: 18
Size:  53.3 KB

  21. #21
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    Very soft and cuddly looking.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Linda58's Avatar
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    I love your quilt!!!

  23. #23
    Super Member Quilt Mom's Avatar
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    Thanks. It was a learning experience!

  24. #24
    Senior Member barbrdunn's Avatar
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    Your quilt turned our very nicely!

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