Quilting with Flannel: Tips of the Trade

quilting-with-flannel

I love quilting with flannel. So soft. So snuggly. So many different plaids! But quilting with flannel can get a little tricky because of a few of flannel’s hidden quirks.

Here’s what flannel’s putting on its online dating profile: I love to snuggle by the fire on a chilly evening with hot apple cider.

But here’s what it’s leaving out: I don’t always get along with sewing machines, and I suffer from serious shrinkage.​

We get it, flannel. No one reveals all of their baggage on the first date. But if you’re going to make a big commitment together, you know, like sewing a quilt, we’re going to need some honesty.

Sure, flannel has some skeletons in the closet, but that doesn’t mean that quilting with flannel is not an option. The more you know… the better you get at quilting with flannel. Consider this your “Quilting with Flannel PSA.”

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Read More From Our Quilty Adventures!

buy-flannel-fabric

Quilting with Flannel Episode 1: So, flannel, what’s your deal?

Flannel has been around forever. You may remember it from your childhood pj’s to that awesome well-worn shirt you had throughout high school, then college...then the first ten years after college...(whatever happened to that shirt?!)

Flannel fabric is a softly woven cloth made from wool, cotton, or synthetic fibers. How does flannel get so soft? Here’s its secret: part of the flannel-making process is using a fine metal brush to raise some of the cloth’s fibers (usually only on one side), napping it up a bit, and really upping flannel’s fluffy feel.​

Quilting with flannel is an obvious fan favorite because of this softness and warmth, but just like quilting with any new fabric, it’s good to know what you’re working with before you really get going. This is especially true when quilting with flannel. Stay with us.​

diy-flannel-quilt

Quilting with Flannel Episode 2: If you’ve met one, you have NOT met them all.​

Not all flannel is created equal. Flannel quality varies a ton, depending on what you buy. High priced flannel is often double-sided, washes and wears well, and shrinks and frays a little less. But listen. I know we all go for the lower-priced options sometimes. So if you’re going to be quilting with bargain flannel, know what you’re in for.

Low-qual flannel usually has a pretty low thread-count. That means that even though it’s soft and cuddly, even one wash can pill that baby up.

Lower quality flannel can come with distorted plaid as well. WHAT?! Distorted plaid? I hate distorted plaid! I know. I feel you. So don’t say I didn’t warn you. Flannel is already woven pretty loosely, making it a delicate fabric to work with. If you’re going to be ripping out some seams in preparation for quilting with flannel, rip with care… if that’s a thing? Otherwise, you might end up with a few holes.

quilting-flannel-tutorial

Quilting With Flannel Episode 3: Gettin’ Ready

When you’re prepping for your big date with flannel, you’re going to want to add a few extra steps. It all starts when you meet at the fabric store… or wherever you go to purchase your flannel. Most often this fuzzy fabric comes in narrower rolls. Definitely something to keep in mind, though if you’re quilting with smaller pieces, you may not mind too much. You’re also going to be glad that flannel runs on the less-expensive end of the spectrum, because you usually have to buy more than you planned on buying. Here’s why:

  • Flannel Shrinks. A lot. So when you take your fabric home and pre-wash it (more on that in a minute) it’s going to come out of the dryer smaller than it was when you put it in. This means you’ll have to buy more in the first place.​
  • Flannel Frays. Those loosely-woven fibers that give you that soft and cuddly feel also come apart easily on the edges. Because of this, you’re going to want to increase your seam allowance when quilting with flannel, from the typical ¼” all the way to ½”. This usually means purchasing up to a quarter yard more, but trust me. It’s worth it. You’re worth it.

After you make it home with your brand-new flannel, you’ll definitely want to pre-wash it. Use very mild detergent, and crank up your water temp so you can get all that shrinking out of the way before you start quilting with flannel.

You may want to use a lingerie bag to cut down on that fraying problem. Some I even recommend washing it twice. Drying is the same story: crank up the heat! Tip – If you want, add a large bath towel into the dryer to keep the yardage from twisting and accumulating unwanted wrinkles.

If things do get a little wrinkled, it’s not a bad idea to iron things out before sewing. Except… maybe don’t actually iron it. Since flannel is really stretchy, ironing can stretch out the fabric a little too much. Try pressing flannel instead (holding the iron in place for a few seconds), or even trying starch. Because of all of that stretchiness, flannel can slide a bit, making it hard to sew. (Have questions about starch? Read about it here!)

quilting-with-flannel-instructions

Quilting With Flannel Episode 4: It’s Business Time

You have to pardon the Flight of the Conchords reference. I can't help myself 😉

Pre-gaming is over. You’ve pre-shrunk and straightened-up your fabric. It's time to get to work. Because flannel is a thicker, softer fabric, quilting with flannel is kind of hard on your hardware. Use sharp scissors, or a larger blade rotary cutter (2-inch diameter) when cutting. Arm your sewing machine with a new, 80/12 or even 90/14 machine needle if you have one.

As far as stitch length goes, try making them a bit longer than if you were quilting with light-weight quilting cotton. It will give you a great seam, since a shorter stitch could stretch the flannel fabric (also, if you happen to make a mistake, it’ll be easier to pick open the seams. It’s ok. We all do it.)​

Lastly, I know I'm always harping about this, but use a walking foot on your sewing machine when quilting with flannel. Yes, this has to do with all of that stretching we’ve been talking about. We gotta hand it to you, flannel, you are flexible.​

flannel-quilt-tips

Quilting With Flannel Episode 5: The Morning After

Chances are, after a serious quilting sesh with flannel, things got a little dirty. It's the looser weave that produces all of that lint. A simple fix is to clean out the bobbin, and also around the needle after you are finished with your flannel project.​ I really like using this compressed gas duster for the small back corners.

And that’s it! That’s the end of your “Quilting With Flannel PSA.” Will there be a second date? That’s for you to decide. Share your experiences (and any other tips you have) in the comment section below!​

couple-on-flannel-blanket

​*The adorable flannel photo above was taken by High Five For Love and used with permission. 

115 thoughts on “Quilting with Flannel: Tips of the Trade

  1. Cathy M. says:

    I’m fairly new to reading your blog, and I’m really loving it; the inspiration, the tips, and the fabrics…it’s wonderful!
    Thank you for the tips, above, on quilting (or even just sewing, in general) with flannel. Are the photos of your personal stash? If so, I’m curious to know where I can find the flannel in the top photo. The grey windowpane plaid with the pink (?) detail.
    One more question: is there a way to discern flannel quality when shopping online? Obviously, if the seller lists the thread count it’s simple. However, I find that many don’t list thread count, and there doesn’t seem to be any terminology associated with it; it seems kind of hit or miss unless you’re buying a designer brand that you can trust.

    Thanks again!

    • Suzy says:

      Great questions! To answer the first one about the fabric featured, it’s all from Purl Soho. If you click on any of those photos, aside from the main image, it will take you to the specific site to buy. It is true about not knowing flannel thread count from online descriptions. When I shop for fabric, and not just flannel, I typically frequent the same quality places because I know they only carry quality fabric. A local quilt shop is a great place to start. However, if you prefer to shop online, here is a list I compiled of quality fabric shops, Purl Soho being one of them. Good luck, happy sewing and let me know if I can help in any other way! xo

  2. Bridgitt says:

    I’m starting a flannel quilt, but noticed as I’m cutting that the plaids go wonky pretty quick. Any tips for cutting squares without wasting fabric so the plaids don’t go off kilter?

    • Suzy says:

      hmmm…well some of that might just happen and it’s not your fault – flannel is super stretchy. However, if you are a perfectionist and the off-kilter plaids are going to bug you, I would suggest marking guide marks with a ruler and chalk pencil, then cutting with sharp fabric scissors – that way you can have more control making the cuts straight with the plaid rather than cutting strips with a rotary cutter.

  3. Sara says:

    YIKES!!! I just stumbled upon this aaaah-may-ZING post. . .and I have a quilt basted and ready to go but i DID NOT PRE-WASH. . . 🙁 I’m a little freaking out because it’s a gift for my brother and I’m worried about what will happen when I wash it!! Am I doomed. . .say it aint so??!!

    • Suzy says:

      You are soooooo totally not doomed. Just never wash it!

      haha I’m kidding I’m kidding 😉 After the quilt is finished don’t wash it. Give it to your brother and then two years later when he gets around to washing it he’ll think he’s the one who ruined it.

      haha I’m totally kidding again!

      OK OK, when you/your brother wash it be prepared for it to shrink and pucker HOWEVER a lot of quilters choose not to pre-wash intentionally because it gives the quilt more texture and can make it look more “antique.” It’s aaaaall good. That quilt is going to be used, loved and appreciated. Promise.

      • Sara says:

        THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! especially for the laughs haha. . .i actually don’t mind the second idea, he a bachelor so him NOT washing it for two years is probably more accurate than not baaahaha.

  4. Lila says:

    Hi! I just got my first flannel baby quilt for our first Great Granddaughter back from the quilter. It is adorable, but I have been a little worried about some info I got at the quilt store I purchased the fabric from. The older woman said to be sure to machine stitch the binding on, as baby quilts are washed so much that hand stitching wouldn’t hold up well. I, of course, machine stitch the first side of the binding on, but always hand stitch binding on the front side. What is your take o this issue?

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      I understand the woman’s point, however if you keep your hand stitching small and precise, it will hold up. I’ve never had my quilt binding fall apart and I usually whipstitch it down by hand too. If you’re worried, though, machine stitching binding can look great and is also very secure. You can see in my latest Instagram post that I machine stitched both sides of the binding down.

  5. Wendy S says:

    Love your post. Thanks so much for all the great info on backing with flannel. My question is, do I still need to add batting when using flannel as a back?

      • Kim says:

        What batting would you recommend? I’d like to keep my flannel quilt fluffy and not have it stiff as a board when it’s finished (I’m not planning on a lot of quilting once it’s pieced to help prevent stiffness).
        Thank you!

  6. Maxine says:

    I don’t quilt with flannel. However, I am machine-quilting a flannel-backed quilt for a friend, and I find that it is very hard work to free-motion this quilt. It requires “”man-handling”, even though I have a “Supreme Slider” on the bed of my sewing machine. Naturally, my free-motion work is suffering from not being able to glide this quilt smoothly. I am using a domestic machine. Do you have any advice?

  7. Maxine says:

    I use quilting gloves. I also put flannel-backed tablecloths (plastic side up) on the tables surrounding my machine. (This is a tip from Sue Patten; I took a couple of classes from her in Toronto in June.) The vinyl/plastic tablecloth idea is a great idea to use when doing any machine quilting on a domestic machine.

    Since writing my query to you, I’ve raised my free-motion foot a bit and changed to a smaller needle (to Quilting 11 from Topstitch 14), and those changes have helped. But quilting a flannel backed quilt is way more difficult than a cotton or silk backing, so I’m pretty sure I won’t be quilting flannel again…:)

  8. Barbara says:

    Great information. I’m new to your site and have already learned so much. I back all my quilts with flannel as I like that cozy feel on one side of the quilt. Since I have not yet had the courage to try free motion, all my quilts have been stitch-in-the-ditch or something equally simple. Maxine’s post was interesting and something I will keep in mind should I ever take the plunge to free motion. I did recently make a quilt using a flannel charm pack and found out just want you mean about flannel stretching!

    • Jenn says:

      I made a ridiculously oversized jean patchwork quilt with flannel backing and no batting. (I hate playing blanket tug of war with my hubby and two dogs, and the thing kind of just kept growing.) It’s so wide it actually won’t fit on the long arm. We sewed the flannel backing on and added a chambray binding.
      Since we can’t quilt, my options are to hand tie or stitch in ditch. (I think my preference is stitch in ditch as I’m imagining one of our dogs chewing on hand ties.) I’m looking for thoughts on really how much tacking of front to back I need to do since there is no batting. Do I need to do every seam or just a few or is it needed since no batting? Appreciate your thoughts!

      • Suzy Quilts says:

        A big reason we quilt stitches close together is so the batting doesn’t travel. Since you don’t have batting, the only reason you need to stitch the two layers together is so the remain relatively together without becoming a ballooning duvet cover. Maybe try sewing every 12″ and see if that’s enough for you?

  9. Maribeth says:

    I’ve been asked to make a memory quilt using flannel shirts. Some of the flannel is heavier than others. Should I use an iron on backing to make them more even in weight?

    • Jude Castillo says:

      I’ve seen some people say to use a Sharps needle instead of a Quilting needle. I am quilting 2 pieces of good quality prewashed flannel with some white & warm batting sandwiched between. I am doing simple wavy lines.

  10. Tricia says:

    I too am trying to make a memory quilt out of flannel shirts. I made simple 9 patch blocks and now don’t know what kind of backing I should use. Also going to try to long arm quilt it.

  11. DONNA SHANOR says:

    I just stumbled upon this site and freaking out as well. I have the flannel top of the quilt for my soon coming grand baby. I was looking for pointers on finishing up with the fleece backing. Finding out about fleece not shrinking and flannel shrinking a ton. What should I do now??

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Hi Donna, don’t fret! You’re grandson will love this cozy quilt. It sounds dreamy! If you didn’t pre-wash your fabric before sewing, your quilt will experience some “puckering” once it’s washed. That shouldn’t effect the integrity of the quilt, it will simply look a bit more antiqued. To reduce the shrinkage as much as possible, once your quilt is complete, wash it in cold water. This article on washing and caring for quilts might help – https://suzyquilts.com/wash-and-care-for-a-quilt/

      Good luck!

      • Kelsey says:

        Suzy, your wit and humour makes me giggle to no end! I am new to this quilting lifestyle, boy oh boy, do you ever make it easy to jump in and get my feet mucky! (Metaphorically speaking of course, my cozy socks and fancy tea mugs have never felt more at home sitting still at the machine while I rip out stitches and ignore the dogs for hours). Thank you for all of your incredible suggestions and guidance, this 28-year old sure does love a good incomplete dating profile reference!

  12. Cwilson says:

    The plaid flannels are not created eqaul and really depends on the manufacturer. I have some sitting on my ironing board as wee speak about to start a quilt- but with large blocks. Baby flannel is a breeze to sew with but will stretch so keep your iron on a lower heat- and don’t pull- press, don’t iron. The larger plaid, you need to cut it on the stripes- many are loaded and get twisted on the bolt- another good way to determine a good tight one from the lesser- they take more care in the loading of the bolts. It also makes it stiffer and feels different. Going to appliqué on top of the flannel instead of trying to use small patches for the blocks. Will see how it works out. TGhanks for the tips

  13. Rita says:

    Hi
    Just completed my first rag baby quilt, used flannel fabric, I must say it looks great, I washed the quilt but don’t have a dryer, but it still came out looking pretty good, one problem I have all these lose threads from the fraying, no matter how many times I shake the quilt, i keep getting more and more, concern is for the baby

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      This may be a frustrating answer, but you probably need to just keep shaking it and pulling at the raw edges until it stops shedding. Eventually it will…it just might take a while. You could try washing it again. I bet that would loosen up some threads.

  14. Patti says:

    When piecing a flannel quilt should the seams be pressed open or to the side? Is it ok to use steam or is a dry iron preferable?

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Pressing seams open or to the side is really just a personal preference. I like to press to the side just because I think seams are more stable that way. Steam is totally fine as long as you have pre-washed your flannel.

  15. S says:

    I’m getting ready to start my first flannel quilt and was wondering if a light-weight interfacing could be used to stabilize the flannel, to reduce the stretching problem. Has anyone out there tried this or is it a bad idea?

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  17. Brittany says:

    I quilted with flannel and now noticed there was some stretch while I was quilting…..should I take it all out and redo it? Or will it be inconspicuous after it’s washed again? 🙁 I’m nervous and sad.

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      I’m so sorry you’re not happy with the quilting. I know the feeling and it can be disappointing. Some of that might be due to your basting. I’m not a fan of ripping stitches unless the quilt is an absolute disaster – which is sounds like it’s not. I suggest leaving it as is and starting a new project. Chances are once you come back to it a few days later, you won’t see the same “imperfections” you are seeing now. Good luck!

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Great question! If you cut parallel to the selvage, or lengthwise, your flannel will have little to no stretch. However, if you cut as you normally would when cutting for a quilt – with the selvages together and crosswise, it will have a bit more stretch. Assuming you are cutting your flannel for pieces in a quilt, eventually they will be trimmed on all sides. So, the very long answer is – it doesn’t really matter. I supposed I could have led with that…haha! 😉

  18. Mary T says:

    I just made a T-shirt quilt for my granddaughter’s graduation present. She wanted it soft and snuggly, so I did things a little different than I usually do for a T-shirt quilt. I used featherweight stabilizer, Warm and Natural batting, and backed it with flannel. It’s at the quilter’s now………….AND…………..I’m reading that I should have preshrunk the flannel backing! It’s a hot pink snuggle flannel from JoAnn’s, and we love it. Tell me it will be OK. I love the old fashioned puckered look, but I just don’t want the quilt to be too out of square after it’s washed.

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Mary, it’s going to be OK. 🙂 My guess is that your longarm quilter will quilt close enough together that even if your quilt wanted to shrink up and get wacky it wouldn’t be able to. More good news is that it will shrink uniformly, so if squared corners are your concern, you should be just fine. Your granddaughter is going to love it!

  19. Jill P Davis says:

    Hi Suzy,
    I am making a quilt using a pieced top with a flannel back and no batting. The flannel is a sheet from Garnet Hill, so I’m hoping good-ish quality. If I shrink the flannel sheet, what will happen when I wash the finished quilt and the pieced top shrinks but the flannel backing doesn’t?

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  21. ssherrie vasiloff says:

    I bought a flannel panel for a baby quilt. I did not wash it. I got ready to quilt doing free motion around some of the figures starting in the center . Using a 90/14. immediately experienced puckering. Noticed uneven stitching. increased the stitch length but had difficulty with sliding. Took out the machine stitching and decided to hand quilt around pattern in the center. Ready to put this in file 13 and do something different. Thinking about cross hatching the whole panel.

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Is it possible that the quilt sandwich wasn’t basted well enough? Thought could be the reason for the puckering. Flannel is also not an easy fabric to free-motion. You probably will have more luck hand quilting.

  22. Juli Maggio says:

    I am quilting a baby quilt using a precut 5″ flannel charm pack. To keep it from stretching while piecing it together, should the fabric grain go in a certain direction? (all going across in horizontal rows or all going up in a vertical rows?) Or should I not worry about the grain and just starch the fabric? Thanks!

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      I wouldn’t worry so much about grain. Your charm pack is probably cut pretty closely to the grain of the fabric already, so all you need now is a bit of starch. Good luck!

  23. Judith N. Raley says:

    How do you make a small quilt with cotton pieced front and flannel backing? Anything I need to do other than prewash the flannel? Should I use cotton fabric or flannel to bind it? Thanks. I am a newbie toquilting in general but no experience with flannel

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Prewashing your flannel is a good start. You can use flannel for the binding, however since you are new to quilting, I would recommend using your regular quilt-weight cotton, since that will be easier to work with. By only advice is to baste your quilt sandwich really well and if you are machine quilting, use a walking foot and sew slowly.

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  27. Randi says:

    Do you have any advice on basting the flannel? I just finished piecing a photo quilt for my niece’s wedding and am working with a flannel backing for the first time. I started and then ripped because I didn’t get the back straight and flat enough. At least now I can prewash and maybe starch will help. Any other ideas?

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  29. Cindy Campbell says:

    So I’m about to embark on my first ever quilt. This bucket list item is happening. It took a while, but I finally found the cutest pre-cut quilt kit! But… it is flannel! I was going to ask how to pre-wash all of those little pre-cut squares, but after reading your helpful article and comments, I’m thinking maybe I shouldn’t do this flannel set I found. Should I let the flannel go and continue my search for an easier quilt kit? Thanks for your help!

  30. Debbi says:

    Hello, I’m new to quilting but have wanted to make a flannel quilt for some time. I love all of your tips on this subject and am so glad I stumbled across your site before diving in! I have never tried free motion quilting but I’m not sure I would ever attempt it on flannel now that I have read all the questions and comments. Would it be okay to straight line a flannel patchwork quilt? I plan on using a good quality flannel for this project.

  31. julie cooper says:

    I have just completed a lap size flannel quilt top. I usually wash the quilt once completed, but I am thinking about cotton backing and thought perhaps I would wash the quilt top in cold and machine dry BEFORE backing and batting and binding. Your thoughts? I would either baste the outside of the quilt top OR put it in a lingerie bag or pillow case for washing.

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Even though the flannel might shrink a bit more than regular cotton, I still think it would be safer to finish the entire quilt, bind it, and then wash it in cold water. Fluff drying or hang drying would prevent a lot of the shrinking too.

  32. Deborah Melvin says:

    I am making a t-shirt quilt. I have purchased a JoAnn fabric Snuggle brand Plaid flannel, 42″ wide, for the backing. The plaid is wonky. I wanted to use 42″x90″ in the center, then cut a 42″ in piece in half(21″) and seam to the center piece on each side., to avoid a center seam. I can’t match it up and am very frustrated. Any idea what I can do to make it look decent? I know, I know, “buy a solid, not plaid.”

  33. Missy says:

    I bought flannel fat quarter bundles to make a simple quilt for my grandson. Should I prewash them and if so what is the best way to do that? Hand wash?

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      I don’t recommend pre-washing precut fabric as small or smaller than a fat quarter. You will end up losing too much do to fraying and quilt patterns that require fat quarters may not work with the new shrunken piece of fabric.

  34. Cathy Kenny says:

    Ok so I recently took up quilting and started with flannel. Apparently that wasn’t a good idea? I am on my third baby quilt right now. My first one turned out great even though I didn’t know you had to prewash until now. The second have me a horrible time with gathering at the ends of the lines. I have only done stitch in the ditch so far but for this one I want to hand quilt it with a cute design. Unfortunately I have not prepared any of these quilts, I’m very bad about doing research and just went off what my mother in law has told me not thinking about she only does cotton quilts. I have four grandbabies 1 year and younger, and I’m not that old lol. So, for my question can I hand quilt this flannel quilt without getting all the gathering and making it look cheap and crappy? Trust me this quilt is anything but cheap, to me anyways. Please help, I’m so messed up at this point I don’t know what to do. I almost have the top put together and as much work as I have already put into it I don’t want to have to go repurchase the fabric and start all over. Thank you in advance

  35. Marilyn J Durant says:

    I plan to buy a high quality flannel layer cake to make a quilt. What can I do to prevent shrinking after the quilt is made to prevent future shrinking? Do you recommend pre-shrinking pre-cut layer cake flannel?

    Thank you and Merry Christmas

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Prewashing precuts is usually on my No-No list because of how much of the precut you can lose due to shrinking and fraying. If you’re following a pattern that assumes you will have the entire precut, don’t do it. However, if you are able to lose a couple inches from each precut, prewashing flannel is a good idea. You could sew a loose basting stitch around the perimeter of each one to prevent some of the fraying. That will get tedious, though, so do that only if you have the time. I’ve tried pinking the edges with pinking shears before and that didn’t seam to help at all.

      Once your quilt is finished, wash on a gentle cycle using cold water and lay it flat on a bed of towels to dry. Heat from the washer and drying are going to be the culprits of major shrinking.

  36. Pat Woodside says:

    I have made several flannel baby quilts, some prewashed…some not. to help keep the seams from pulling apart, I use a long curvy, zigzag stitch down the border seams. I use a high loft batting and since I hate hand work, I cut out several sizes (12 inches down to 3 inches across) paper hearts, pin around them every 2 inches or so and then sew around about 1/2 inch away from the heart using the same curvy stitch (it’s stitch #4 on my Bernina Virtuoso 153) and I use 4.5 for the stitch width and 2 for the stitch length)…never puckers or bunches on the underside. Adds a little love from Grandma. I also hate wonky corners so I trace a quarter circle in each corner when sewing the 3 layers together (I birth my quilts instead of binding) and I clip the round corners and when I turn them they are very smooth.
    After turning them right side out, I do a fancy zigzag around the edges and this “closes” the opening and makes the edges stronger.

  37. Linda swan says:

    Hi Suzy, I’ve been quilting for about 10 years now . Learning as I go, A couple years back I made a t shirt quilt for a grandson. I believe I used 1/4 inch seams. The flannel that was holding the t shirts together is pulling apart. It was a lot of work to do this quilt . I’m not sure how to fix it. Thanks for your input

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      I’m sure it was a lot of work! I think at this point the best thing you can do is mend any areas that have fully pulled apart and then switch to hand washing the quilt rather than machine washing it. Also wash it as infrequently as possible – once a year is not crazy.

  38. Preeva Tramiel says:

    Suzy, I bought some flannel backing and tore it selvedge to selvedge, and the piece came out 6 inches wider one one edge than the other ! What went wrong?

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Sounds like when it was cut from the bolt it was cut pretty severely off grain. Big box stories like fabric.com and Joanne are notorious for doing this. So annoying. If purchasing from those stores, it’s a good idea to tack on at least a 1/4 yd. to account for this happening.

  39. sarah faue says:

    so what tips do you have for using flannel (2 layers) for batting of a baby quilt. I am making it very plan with kantha stitching or pearl stitching and i am having the hardest time getting my needle in and out of the layers of fabric. to the point i’m ready to hang it up and go buy different batting. but i’m 5 rows in and really don’t want to. I have tried different needles (i’m using embroidery thread) but nothing is making this easier. If i find a needle that pulls the thick thread through it won’t push through good and if i get a needle that goes through the fabric decent then it won’t pull the thread through. aahaahahahah please help or maybe it could be the spray adhesive i don’t know

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Hmmmm….I see your dilemma. The issue with using flannel rather than batting is that flannel is made up of threads woven together – so the needle and thread need to push their way between those threads. If you stack two pieces of flannel together as the batting you are now making your needle push through four layers of fabric. Batting would be easier because it’s not woven together, but bonded or pressed – allowing the needle a smoother time passing through and many more points of entry. Does that make sense?

      Unfortunately, I think your options are to switch to a thinner, sharper needle and thinner thread (probably a traditional quilting thread that is wax coated) or to switch to just one layer of flannel or light batting. If it’s the drape of flannel you are after, bamboo batting can give you something similar – especially after washing.

  40. Debbie Crews says:

    I have a mystery quilt that went terribly wrong. I don’t want to put much more work into it so I plan on tying it and using flannel instead of batting. How far apart can I tie it? The top and back are 100% cotton quilting fabric. Thank you

  41. Rosemary says:

    Thanks for all the info…really helped. I have a BIG concern still re washing my rag quilt and getting the drain clogged up. Any feedback would be appreciated. Thank you.

  42. Jaynie says:

    I made a t-shirt quilt with flannel sashing, borders, and backing. I’m ready to do the binding. I was told to cut 2-1/2″ strips for double binding. Being a newbie, can you tell me whether to cut the binding strips selvage-to-selvage or parallel to the selvage? Thank you for your help.

  43. Jennifer Smith says:

    I just bought four 1-yard pieces of flannel at a high quality fabric store. It was so soft and yummy I couldn’t resist. I’ve never sewn with flannel before so I read this post. I have made several quilts and considering myself an advanced quilter. Can you recommend a pattern that works well with flannel? Something to show off the plaid, and in larger pieces? I don’t want to cut the flannel into tons of little pieces. Thanks!

  44. Debbie says:

    I’m using flannel in my summer quilt for batting. The blocks are 11” between sashing which I have already straight line machine quilted. Is 11” too far apart? Do I need to add more quilting? The flannel was prewashed, several times.

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Great question! Because you are using flannel instead of batting, you do not run the risk of batting bunching, shifting or collecting in lumps underneath your quilt sandwich. The flannel layer does not need as much stabilizing as a layer of batting, so what you have quilted is enough.

  45. Mary Oakes says:

    Hello. I am making my daughter a baby blanket for my newest grandson arriving in October. I am using a flannel panel with Luxe Cuddle Minky. In the above post you mentioned that you do not recommend starching one fabric and not the other. Can minky even be starched? I am new to sewing anything let alone quilting and blanket making! I guess if I am jumping in I might as well go head first LOL. Anyway I would like to starch the flannel as I know that it stretches, but what do I do with the minky? Thanks in advance for any advice!

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Hmmm…good question. I don’t recommend starching minky…in fact, I bet if you did, it wouldn’t do much good. In this scenario, I think you could hold off on the starch and still be OK. Both fabrics are going to be a bit shifty, but as long as you’re not aiming for perfection, it will work out beautifully and be incredibly cuddly. If you haven’t seen this tutorial, it’s written especially for minky and flannel would be a perfect companion fabric.

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  47. Teresa says:

    In the article, you recommend using a 1/2 inch inseam rather than 1/4. So, when I cut the fabric, do I increase ALL measurements by 1/4. For example, when the instructions say to cut 3 1/2 x 8 1/2 ” rectangles, I would cut 3 3/4 x 8 3/4 ” Correct? I know this is a pretty basic question but want to get it right! Thanks!

  48. Treezza says:

    I wish I would have read this post before I started on my flannel quilt. I can definitely say that the suggestion about 1/2″ seam would have been a smart way to go and saved me a lot of grief–I had lots of issues with the fraying, and on a few occasions when the stitching got too close to the edge of one layer I seamed together, it needed to be ripped, and that was a disaster. It required some creative work to get it fixed, since I couldn’t redo it for several reasons: I was out of one of the fabrics so couldn’t redo; it was already nearly done (sewing rows together). The walking foot is also a good suggestion, and I’ll be using it once I get ready to do the quilting (I’m almost there). I also had cutting challenges because the fabric likes to move while the rotary cutter is rolling along; that was very frustrating and sometimes left a ruffled cut. Fortunately, I did think to prewash in very hot water to get the bleeding and shrinking out of the way. To add to the overall problem, this is my first quilt! And I have one more to do in flannel since I already purchased the fabric, but I’ll be making changes on how I do it, and your suggestions should make things easier. Also, it’s worth mentioning that the fabric in solid colors I bought from a big box store, was really poor quality, which was especially obvious after purchasing some better quality from a quilt store to replace the solids in my second project. The prints from the box store seemed to be better, though, for some reason. Thanks for your post!

  49. Shannon says:

    I’m using some cheaper flannel to back my quilt but I’m having problems machine quilting it. The quilt isn’t feeding well into my machine, the only way it will is if I push the quilt through but even then the stitches are super tiny regardless of what stitch length I’m using. The feed dogs are also sort of tearing up the flannel 😫 I’m using a walking foot and quilting gloves so I’m not sure what else to do. Do you have any suggestions for how I can machine quilt this?

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  51. Teresa says:

    Should the binding strips be cut wider when working with flannel? I did the 1/2 inch seam allowance on the quilt. Just wondering if it is necessary to do wider binding strips because of fraying, etc. Used a lot of your suggestions of working with flannel and think it helped!!

    • Suzy says:

      I’m glad to hear that! Yes, cut your binding strips wider too. Flannel is thicker than regular lightweight cotton, so when it’s doubled up and folded over an edge, it gets thicker and needs to be wider so it can have room to fully cover the raw edge completely.

  52. Julia says:

    Dear Suzy!
    What a helpfull blog! But I have still some questions and I’m hoping you can help…
    I want to make the Peppermint lane quilt from the It’s sew Emma book and purchased the Vintage holiday fat quarter bundle by Bonnie and Camille. But: it is flannel… For the background I have Bella solids cotton. (white)
    Can I do this? Sew “mixed” blocks with flannel and cotton?
    Thanks for your help and best regards from Hamburg!

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Great question! Very rarely will I respond to that question with a “No.” Can you do that? Totally! Back in the day fabric was fabric and “light-weight quilting cotton” did not exist. It was the wild wild west of sewing because in fact it was the wild wild west! haha!

      Anyway, I’m not answering your question very well. Yes, you can sew flannel to quilting cotton. I would recommend prewashing, though. I’m breaking my own prewashing rules by telling your to prewash precuts, but this is different because the two fabrics will shrink differently. So, to prevent all kinds of crazy fraying in the wash, sew a zig-zag stitch around the perimeter of each FQ before washing.

      Stick with a 1/4″ seam listed in the pattern so the math doesn’t get confusing. Since you’ve prewashed the worst of the unraveling has already happened. Good luck!

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  54. Julia Doering says:

    Dear Suzy! I would like to thank you for your great tips for my Bonnie and Camille Flannel Quilt! And here comes the update: I’ve sewed the edges of two fat quarters with the zig zag stich and then prewashed them And what can I say? They have shrunk from 18×21 inch to 17,5×21 inch (Yay!) Today I sewed the first block and it turned out great. Again a thousand thanks and best regards from Hamburg from Julia (happy)

  55. Miriam says:

    I’m trying to whip up a quick (fingers crossed) wholecloth baby quilt for a dear friend: flannel front, flannel backing, flannel binding… Is this a terrible idea? Is using an 80-20 poly blend batting because I’ve prewashed the flannels kosher??? I just can’t manage to cut and piece and quilt and bind for a baby that is already a month old. Done is better than perfect, right?

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      This is a great idea! My only suggestion (if you weren’t already going to do this) is to cut your binding strips at least 2 1/2″ thick. Flannel binding is wonderful, but because it’s a little thick when folded, you need the strips to be a bit wider so that the raw edges of the quilt are fully covered.

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