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Thread: Using flannel for a quilt...do I or do I not?

  1. #1
    Junior Member Juztme's Avatar
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    Using flannel for a quilt...do I or do I not?

    I saw some really cute flannel that I'd like to use to make a baby quilt. I am supposing I need to wash before cutting, but what other things do I need to watch out for? How do I keep the fabric stable? Lots and lots of starch?? Or do I just use the flannel for the backing?

    Boy am I glad you all are around so I can ask questions!

  2. #2
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    Last flannel quilt I made, I washed and dried the flannel twice to get it to shrink as much as possible. Took it out of the dryer on first buzz, shook it out and folded it - did not wrinkle. If you have a serger, I recommend serging the edges first before washing.
    I did not starch the flannel and I did not iron it. It was easy to cut, but I only cut one layer at a time. Also, when I was sewing it, the flannel did not shift, it was like it was hugging itself, if that makes sense. You have to be careful and not stretch it.

    My son absolutely loves his quilt. When I gave it to him he kept saying "it's so soft!"

    I would not use an intricate design - you don't want to stretch it and I honestly would never starch flannel - it would soak too much into it.

  3. #3
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    Oh, btw, I also used flannel for the backing and also inside of it instead of batting so it was actually 3 layers of flannel - nice an warm without too much bulk.

  4. #4
    Power Poster earthwalker's Avatar
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    Yes, wash it a couple of times...be brutal...hot water, dryer the works. If it's going to misbehave, best find out before quilting with it. I do iron and starch (heavily), but am careful not to stretch it around. Flannel is well worth the trouble....lovely, soft and comforting.

  5. #5
    Junior Member Juztme's Avatar
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    I like the idea of the flannel on the inside. That would really make it!

  6. #6
    Junior Member Juztme's Avatar
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    I forgot... How much does it schrink? Should I buy 1/4 yard more?

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    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Washing and drying a couple of times is good. I starch flannel heavily before cutting because it really helps with accuracy; starching stabilizes it so it moves around less, stretches less, etc. It's a good idea to use 1/2-inch seams because flannel tends to fray, but it's not absolutely necessary. It's also a good idea to choose simpler patterns with bigger pieces; however, starching heavily does allow you to use more intricate piecing patterns with accuracy.

    It's actually quite possible to make a flannel quilt without prewashing. I took a class with Harriet Hargrave where she passed around a flannel quilt she had made without prewashing to prove to her customers that it could be done. She measured the quilt before washing and again after washing, and there was minimal shrinkage. Her point is that moderate quilting binds the layers of the quilt together, making the batting the determining factor in shrinkage. In other words, fabric that is closely quilted cannot shrink more than the batting. This was certainly true for her quilt, which was lovely and now mis-shapen at all. Flannel fabrics washed on their own will shrink a ***lot***; I know this from experience! However, if you are willing to machine quilt at least moderately (I'd say something smaller than a large meander -- medium meander or smaller), you can actually skip the prewashing step for flannel.

  8. #8
    Super Member Pat625's Avatar
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    I use flannel a lot especially for baby and kids quilts..Sometimes it is just used for backing, adn sometimes for front and back..All have held up well and the kids love them

  9. #9
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Just want to add that sewing flannel creates a *lot* of lint! Be prepared to clean your machine at least twice as often as you normally would.

  10. #10
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlienQuilter View Post
    Last flannel quilt I made, I washed and dried the flannel twice to get it to shrink as much as possible. Took it out of the dryer on first buzz, shook it out and folded it - did not wrinkle. If you have a serger, I recommend serging the edges first before washing.
    I did not starch the flannel and I did not iron it. It was easy to cut, but I only cut one layer at a time. Also, when I was sewing it, the flannel did not shift, it was like it was hugging itself, if that makes sense. You have to be careful and not stretch it.

    My son absolutely loves his quilt. When I gave it to him he kept saying "it's so soft!"

    I would not use an intricate design - you don't want to stretch it and I honestly would never starch flannel - it would soak too much into it.
    This is what I do. I never have starched. My flannel quilts come out fine.

  11. #11
    Super Member kathdavis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juztme View Post
    I forgot... How much does it schrink? Should I buy 1/4 yard more?
    At least a 1/4 of a yard more.
    Kathleen

    Remember, people will see your quilts long after you are gone....NOT your housework!

  12. #12
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Regarding starch, I just want to mention that it washes out. Flannel does not seem to soak up any more starch than other cotton fabrics, at least when I have used it. The purpose of starch is to provide temporarily stabilization of the flannel so it does not stretch while being handled and sewn. That's all.

  13. #13
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    I love to use flannel on the back of baby quilts! I have even made myself a flannel quilt that my husband knows I have first dibs on in the family room. I wash and dry the fabric before using. I clip the corners before washing but it still frays a lot. (I remember reading on here that one member sews the ends to each other and it doesn't fray as much) It doesn't need ironing or starch. I also wash the quilt after it is finished, quilting & binding. I buy a half yard extra and with what's left, I make a burp cloth.

  14. #14
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    I would not hesitate to use flannel for a quilt. I have used it for backing with no issues. I would certainly pre-wash in the hottest water you have and dry it to death in the dryer. Particularly if it's not a high-quality or thick flannel. And I agree with starching it to heavily if you're going to be cutting smaller pieces. As someone else said, it washes out after. It's only for stabilization. I would probably buy at least 1/2 to 1 yard more than required. I do this with just about any fabric anyhow. Gives me room for shrinkage; booboos and stash!

  15. #15
    Junior Member totosmom's Avatar
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    Hi Juztme. Last fall I made a flannel quilt for DH, and like many others, I washed the flannel several times and starched it to death before I started. I really does help to stabilize it and makes it easier to cut, piece and quilt. The cats love it as much as he does, so it has seen the inside of the washing machine many times without problems.

    You've gotten good advice here, so just start sewing! And don't forget to show us your finished quilt!
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Dorothy in PA

  16. #16
    Super Member icon17's Avatar
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    Flannels great for Quilts And Yes Wash! too shrink. Also if you want to make a Lite weight Quilt You can use Just Fannels No battings.
    May Your Life Be Full of Charity and Love.

  17. #17
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    One reason to wash flannel is to check for pilling. Good quality flannel doesn't pill, but it's sometimes hard to tell whether what you purchase is good quality or not. The last flannel I used pilled on the first washing, so I used it as batting rather than for backing. Another flannel that I purchased at the same time, same price but different color, has behaved beautifully in the washing.

  18. #18
    Senior Member sewplease's Avatar
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    Great information!

    Have any of you used Joann's Snuggle Flannel? - Regular price is 6.99 but currently on sale for 2.99. I'm trying to decide between the flannel or fleece for the backing on a couple of kids quilts. I'm curious about the pilling and shrinkage. The tops are 58x58, so would you recommend going with 4 yards (2 lengths of 2 yards)? Thanks!

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