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Thread: HELP! Need help sewing flannel!!!

  1. #1
    Super Member Wunder-Mar's Avatar
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    Okay, the title is a bit more panicky than I feel, but I do sincerely need some flannel-sewing tips,

    I have made four flannel quilts, 3 of them pieced. Matching seams was my major challenge because the fabric is so "fat" by nature - matching seams was really hit-or-miss results-wise, and many of the seams I was certain were pinned in place were [WHOA!] after sewing them. Is there something I can do (or NOT do) to make matching seams a much easier task, or at least a not-so-discouraging one????

    I buy top quality flannel, use top quality pins/thread & needles, am very careful not to stretch or distort the fabric while sewing, and generally do a lot of things "right," but, boy, those "off" seams/intersections is so disheartening. I've been quilting for 20 years now and have decades experience sewing garments and gowns: why is flannel giving me such heartburn?!?!?

    I have a ton of 2 1/2" squares left over from my 3 grandkids' flannel quilts - I want to use them to make a quilt for me so I can snuggle up to all of them after they move to California come July (I am in Florida). The pattern I've chosen is a 16-patch with sashing enhancements; it's a size I worked with making their quilts, and I'm comfortable with the size of the squares.

    So, Experienced Flannel Quilters, I would welcome any and all tips to help me match seams more easily and anything else I might not have thought of to do/not do while sewing with flannel. Many, many thanks for whatever help you can lend!

  2. #2
    Super Member moonwork42029's Avatar
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    LOL... I thought it was just me. I just did a twin size flannel top and I also pinned and pinned but fal-la, seams didn't match up.


    I'll be watching for the answers too.

    Good luck with yours.

  3. #3
    Senior Member MissSandra's Avatar
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    OH those little naughty seams no matter what I tried I had issues

  4. #4
    Senior Member Bluphrog's Avatar
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    Sorry, no help here. The only flannel I've sewn was for rag quilts and I didn't worry too much if the seams didn't match.

  5. #5
    Super Member quiltinggirl's Avatar
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    I love working with flannel, but only after I realized that it is so much easier to piece together when I use my walking foot! :)

  6. #6
    Super Member grann of 6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wunder-Mar
    Okay, the title is a bit more panicky than I feel, but I do sincerely need some flannel-sewing tips,

    I have made four flannel quilts, 3 of them pieced. Matching seams was my major challenge because the fabric is so "fat" by nature - matching seams was really hit-or-miss results-wise, and many of the seams I was certain were pinned in place were [WHOA!] after sewing them. Is there something I can do (or NOT do) to make matching seams a much easier task, or at least a not-so-discouraging one????

    I buy top quality flannel, use top quality pins/thread & needles, am very careful not to stretch or distort the fabric while sewing, and generally do a lot of things "right," but, boy, those "off" seams/intersections is so disheartening. I've been quilting for 20 years now and have decades experience sewing garments and gowns: why is flannel giving me such heartburn?!?!?

    I have a ton of 2 1/2" squares left over from my 3 grandkids' flannel quilts - I want to use them to make a quilt for me so I can snuggle up to all of them after they move to California come July (I am in Florida). The pattern I've chosen is a 16-patch with sashing enhancements; it's a size I worked with making their quilts, and I'm comfortable with the size of the squares.

    So, Experienced Flannel Quilters, I would welcome any and all tips to help me match seams more easily and anything else I might not have thought of to do/not do while sewing with flannel. Many, many thanks for whatever help you can lend!
    Starch, starch, and more starch. I also found not to use an intricate pattern with triangles, etc. I like log cabins or rail fence for flannel. Flannel is just naturally stretchy, that's what makes it so yummy against our skin. So you have to work WITH it, not against it. Thus a simple pattern. Let the fabric and the print do the talking, instead of the squares (or triangles). I love working with flannel, but it does take patience. Oh, added, walking foot works wonders with those seams.

  7. #7
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Heavily starching flannel before cutting really helps. I mix up a 1:1 solution of Sta-Flo liquid laundry starch and water, "paint" this on the fabric using a large wall painting brush (until the fabric is saturated), toss in the dryer, then iron with steam. The flannel comes out with the stiffness of lightweight cardstock and is *not* going to wiggle around or distort on you while cutting and piecing. It makes piecing flannel a lot easier, and also helps prevent puckers when machine quilting (heavily starch the backing fabric also). After the quilt is bound, wash in the washing machine to remove the starch.

    Edit: Oops! Sorry, I just noticed the comment about a ton of 2.5" squares. If they were prewashed, then you might be able to use a similar technique to the above but lay them flat on toweling to dry before ironing. If they haven't been prewashed, then starching them may result in serious shrinkage and distortion of the squares -- in which case you would be better off just using them as is, or possibly you could experiment with spray starching a few. (Spray starching is a much slower process than the yardage technique above.)

  8. #8
    okiepastor's Avatar
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    STARCH! Learned that the hard way, too this winter making lap quilts form little squares--figured it out when nearly done, of course!

  9. #9
    Super Member moonwork42029's Avatar
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    Oh my... I thought the starch on the flannel would ruin it... gosh, I'll have to try it when I do the quilting part.

    Thanks!

  10. #10
    Super Member sidmona's Avatar
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    I just made a flannel quilt and didn't starch it. Just make sure you alternate the seams so that they lock together when you sew them.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Johanna Fritz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wunder-Mar
    So, Experienced Flannel Quilters, I would welcome any and all tips to help me match seams more easily and anything else I might not have thought of to do/not do while sewing with flannel. Many, many thanks for whatever help you can lend!
    I always piece flannel with a walking foot. It really helps.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  12. #12
    Super Member amyjo's Avatar
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    I also use my wslking foot for flannel. I pin the seams first and then a pin inbetween and stitch slowly.

  13. #13
    Super Member Lisa_wanna_b_quilter's Avatar
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    I'm with the starch group. Starch it super stiff and things will match up. As soon as you wash it, everything will be soft again.

  14. #14
    Super Member BKrenning's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moonwork42029
    Oh my... I thought the starch on the flannel would ruin it... gosh, I'll have to try it when I do the quilting part.

    Thanks!
    Starch the back side--not the fuzzy side and the more starch, the better.

    The good, heavy, "quilter's suede" type flannel is a little easier to control without starch but the intersections at the seams make it a bugger to sew through even with a walking foot and nesting the seams so I have pressed them open.

    I also avoid using any pattern where the pieces will be less than 2" when using flannel if I can't figure out how to strip piece it and sub-cut to get the design I'm after.

  15. #15
    Super Member maryb119's Avatar
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    I pin my flannel quilts every 1 1/2 inches and use the IDT on my machine. You can use a walking foot. It will help a lot. I have not tried starch.

  16. #16
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    Please prewash all flannels. They do not all shrink at the same rate and you can end up with a real mess after all your work. I think flannel is as easy to work with as cotton, just sew a good quarter inch seam as some do want to ravel.

  17. #17
    Member elliot's Avatar
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    heavy starch on back, steam iron, I have never used the dryer...but I may try that and walking foot.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Sewze's Avatar
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    I followed Prism99 instructions to the tee for making my DD flannel quilt (my second quilt) using 3 colors of flannel on both the front and back and pressing seams open. I had absolutely no problems with the seams matching up. Thank you Prism99. Jinnie
    Quote Originally Posted by Prism99
    Heavily starching flannel before cutting really helps. I mix up a 1:1 solution of Sta-Flo liquid laundry starch and water, "paint" this on the fabric using a large wall painting brush (until the fabric is saturated), toss in the dryer, then iron with steam. The flannel comes out with the stiffness of lightweight cardstock and is *not* going to wiggle around or distort on you while cutting and piecing. It makes piecing flannel a lot easier, and also helps prevent puckers when machine quilting (heavily starch the backing fabric also). After the quilt is bound, wash in the washing machine to remove the starch.

    Edit: Oops! Sorry, I just noticed the comment about a ton of 2.5" squares. If they were prewashed, then you might be able to use a similar technique to the above but lay them flat on toweling to dry before ironing. If they haven't been prewashed, then starching them may result in serious shrinkage and distortion of the squares -- in which case you would be better off just using them as is, or possibly you could experiment with spray starching a few. (Spray starching is a much slower process than the yardage technique above.)

  19. #19
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    Try ironing all your 2.5 sq. to the fusible foundation that's made with the grid, they shouldn't move then. Joann's sells this & there is probably an internet site, but I can't think of the name of the product, good luck! You may also try easing up the pressure dial on your machine.

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