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Thread: Piecing with Flannel Questions

  1. #1
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    I have washed my red Cozy flannel from JoAnn's and it shrank four inches. Ok so far. I carefully ironed it making sure not to stretch it. I cut squares and made Friendship Star blocks that I squared as I went along. Again ok. Now that I want to stitch them together, they are no longer square. One side is either shorter or longer than the rest. So what happened? I was careful when I pressed, Not ironed them. I know flannel has give and stretches a bit.

    Now for my questions. Am I asking too much of the flannel by trying to piece it? Am I not doing something I should do? Or doing something I shouldn't? Maybe I should just forget trying to make pieced blocks out of flannel. I really do love flannel though and would like my baby quilts to have personality, not just plain blocks.

    Please help! :)

  2. #2
    Super Member chairjogger's Avatar
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    Flannel is tough.. I have no problem with the thick men's flannel shirt material that I take old shirts. I wounder if because these have been laundered often.

    I wonder if working with the baby flannel fabric is harder because of the thickness??

    I do have a quilted, but one large piece, baby blanket that made it through two children.. used quilt binding on this over 30 years ago.

    good luck.. flannel is hard to work with sometimes. :(

  3. #3
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    I am doing a quilt now that has flannel in it (it had the exact color and pattern I needed.)- a quilt for me! I starched the fabric after washing and hung it to dry. I am adding some starch when I press it. Then I am cutting. That should keep it from misbehaving.

    Remember to press (up and down) and not iron (sliding along).

    Don't know how to fix the ones you have already done but do not give up on flannel - starch is your friend! Use it before cutting your blocks.

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    Super Member grann of 6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tropical
    I have washed my red Cozy flannel from JoAnn's and it shrank four inches. Ok so far. I carefully ironed it making sure not to stretch it. I cut squares and made Friendship Star blocks that I squared as I went along. Again ok. Now that I want to stitch them together, they are no longer square. One side is either shorter or longer than the rest. So what happened? I was careful when I pressed, Not ironed them. I know flannel has give and stretches a bit.

    Now for my questions. Am I asking too much of the flannel by trying to piece it? Am I not doing something I should do? Or doing something I shouldn't? Maybe I should just forget trying to make pieced blocks out of flannel. I really do love flannel though and would like my baby quilts to have personality, not just plain blocks.

    Please help! :)
    STARCH STARCH STARCH. And press, don't iron. In other words, don't slide the soleplate of the iron on the blocks; this will cause stretching. When I use flannel for quilting I use a minimal number of pieces and try not to have biases.

  5. #5
    Super Member Deborahlees's Avatar
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    Starch is the answer...
    try again
    DO NOT GIVE UP....this can be done

  6. #6
    Senior Member MIJul's Avatar
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    I've found the best results for working with flannel is to use squares and rectangles. When you eliminate the bias that comes from using triangles, you get better blocks and less distortion.

  7. #7
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I heavily starch flannel before cutting. Heavy starch stabilizes the fabric so it doesn't stretch or distort with handling.

    Chances are good that you can get your squares back into "true" with spray starch and an iron. Sharon Schamber has some great videos on how to do this on Youtube. Here are links to how she does this (not necessarily in order):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-3RIWhBvcA
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6aplw_tVZc
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIjZqABo2NY
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQkF02vpVuw

  8. #8
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    Thank you Sewmary, gran of 6 and Deborahlees for your very quick responses. I'm afraid though that Starch is Not My friend. I have COPD including Severe Multiple Chemical Sensitivities which cause negative reactions to anything aerosol or with any kind of odor. I have tried the homemade type using cornstarch and got lots of flaking without much stiffness.

    I think I will use MIJul's suggestion of using squares and rectangles and stick with cotton for my star blocks.
    All of you have a great day.:)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by chairjogger
    Flannel is tough.. I have no problem with the thick men's flannel shirt material that I take old shirts. I wounder if because these have been laundered often.

    I wonder if working with the baby flannel fabric is harder because of the thickness??

    I do have a quilted, but one large piece, baby blanket that made it through two children.. used quilt binding on this over 30 years ago.

    good luck.. flannel is hard to work with sometimes. :(
    Thank you, I hadn't thought of using those. My DH doesn't wear them since we moved to Florida. Maybe I can try a thrift shop. :)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prism99
    I heavily starch flannel before cutting. Heavy starch stabilizes the fabric so it doesn't stretch or distort with handling.

    Chances are good that you can get your squares back into "true" with spray starch and an iron. Sharon Schamber has some great videos on how to do this on Youtube. Here are links to how she does this (not necessarily in order):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-3RIWhBvcA
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6aplw_tVZc
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIjZqABo2NY
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQkF02vpVuw
    Thank you Prism99. I have watched those videos before and forgotten all about them. I love her tutorials. I'll give them another look this afternoon. Unfortunately though I can not use starch for health reasons. :)

  11. #11
    Super Member Deborahlees's Avatar
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    what about a 'stay stitch' before cutting, to keep your angles true....

  12. #12
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Perhaps liquid starch would work for you? You can put it in a spray bottle rather than using the aerosol cans. I don't know if there is an entirely unscented one. I don't have an allergy as such to scented products, but I don't like them. I quit using fabric softener altogether after Costco quit carrying the unscented one. I don't understand why manufacturers think they have to add scent to everything.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deborahlees
    what about a 'stay stitch' before cutting, to keep your angles true....
    Now that I think about it, you may be on to something here. :)
    I will give it a try. I'm always up for learning something new. :)

  14. #14
    Super Member knlsmith's Avatar
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    Use good quality flanel (not saying yours isn't ) and starch starch starch before cutting. I like working w/ it because it is easy to match up since it sticks together when you sew it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster
    Perhaps liquid starch would work for you? You can put it in a spray bottle rather than using the aerosol cans. I don't know if there is an entirely unscented one. I don't have an allergy as such to scented products, but I don't like them. I quit using fabric softener altogether after Costco quit carrying the unscented one. I don't understand why manufacturers think they have to add scent to everything.
    The only liquid one I can find at Wal Mart is scented. I'll check a special catalog I have for environmentally safe products. I agree with you 100% about the manufacturers. :) They claim all of the consumers want scents. I don't believe they are asking everyone. :(

  16. #16
    Super Member grann of 6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tropical
    Quote Originally Posted by dunster
    Perhaps liquid starch would work for you? You can put it in a spray bottle rather than using the aerosol cans. I don't know if there is an entirely unscented one. I don't have an allergy as such to scented products, but I don't like them. I quit using fabric softener altogether after Costco quit carrying the unscented one. I don't understand why manufacturers think they have to add scent to everything.
    The only liquid one I can find at Wal Mart is scented. I'll check a special catalog I have for environmentally safe products. I agree with you 100% about the manufacturers. :) They claim all of the consumers want scents. I don't believe they are asking everyone. :(
    I can sympatize with you, Tropical. I have problems with perfumes, etc. I use MaryEllens Best Press unscented. It is in a spray bottle, not aerosol. You might be able to use that.. It doesn't flake, has no starch in it, but gives a nice crispness to flannel to make it easier to work with.

  17. #17
    Super Member madamekelly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deborahlees
    Starch is the answer...
    try again
    DO NOT GIVE UP....this can be done
    You could also use spray sizing. That is what manufacturers use when they make fabric so it looks nice in the store. Also- All cotton, including flannel, has a stretch across but not down. When I work with flannel, I make a small clip on the not stretch edges, so that when I put them together, I can put stretch to stretch, and no stretch to no stretch. This may help you too, just remember to make little clips, so that they end up in the seam allowance.

  18. #18
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Sometimes flannel will need multiple wash dry cycles before it's done shrinking. It also shrinks in one direction lots more than the other. I'm wondering if it was not done shrinking with your single wash and when you pressed it(with steam??) it shrunk again. If you still have an uncut piece, try washing and drying again.

  19. #19
    Senior Member IAmCatOwned's Avatar
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    If you want to sew with flannel after washing out all the sizing, you HAVE to use starch. The weave is too loose. If you can't use starch, try Mary Ellen's Best Press. I have a bottle of it, but haven't tried it with flannel yet.

  20. #20
    Super Member btiny36's Avatar
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    Yeppers, that is exactly what I do...starch, starch, starch.....just finished a 56x56 rag quilt with flannel
    I use Mary Ellen's best press for everything...it works well with flannel

  21. #21
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    I have heard of Mary Ellen's Best Press. I'll check it out to see if I can use it. I'm not sure where to get it so I will Google it. I am going to look for a higher quality of flannel as well. Everyone has been so helpful. :)

  22. #22
    Super Member grann of 6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tropical
    I have heard of Mary Ellen's Best Press. I'll check it out to see if I can use it. I'm not sure where to get it so I will Google it. I am going to look for a higher quality of flannel as well. Everyone has been so helpful. :)
    Your LQS should carry it.

  23. #23
    Super Member sewbeadit's Avatar
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    What would happen if you glued the seams together and pressed before sewing.

  24. #24
    Super Member BKrenning's Avatar
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    Wash & dry on hot. Unscented starch or sizing before cutting the fabric and lots of it. For the thin, stretchy flannels--I would consider putting the starch mixture in the washing machine and soaking it through then damp dry in the dryer--iron to finish drying. That will teach it who is boss--LOL! For Friendship Stars, I would have cut squares and sewn on both sides of the diagonal to make the points. Avoiding or controlling bias is the key.

    I made an Arkansas Crossroads quilt from a mixture of flannels for my trucker sister-in-law. It was fairly quick & easy. The yellow plaid was the thinner, stretchier kind of flannel. The creamy orange was a medium quality and the green was heavy, quilter's flannel.

    Pam's Flannel Quilt--Arkansas Crossroads
    Name:  Attachment-276655.jpe
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  25. #25
    Junior Member JanetP's Avatar
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    Mary Ellen's Best Press is a liquid starch in a pump bottle and you can get it in Scent-Free as well as scented. It work's really well for me. I'm sure you can order it on line somewhere. I bought mine in a local quilt shop.

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