Tuesday Tip: What’s the Difference between Flannelette and Flannel?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between flannelette and flannel? To many of us, the terms are used interchangeably. However, within the quilt shop, we distinguish the two into three basic types of cotton fabrics. Here’s the definition for each:

1. Flannel – This is a cotton woven fabric that is brushed (to make is soft and fuzzy) on one or both sides. It comes off a bolt at about $17.98 (Cdn.) per metre and is often called quilter’s flannel. Since it’s printed on finer cotton wovens before napping, prints can be more detailed. It can be used to make shirts, sleepwear and quilts. The right side of flannel feels sueded and the back side may or may not be napped. Examples of flannel:  Woolies Flannel by Maywood Studio and Moda’s Wool and Needle Collections. The recent Farmhouse Flannels are of exceptional good quality “flannel”.

2. Yarn Dyed Flannel – Made with flannelled (fuzzy) multicoloured yarns in plaids, ginghams or stripes. Yarn Dyed Flannel usually has a lower fuzz-factor than flanelette making it more suitable for shirts, lounge pants, sheets and jacket linings. Sometimes, they are called “homespuns”. Many country and/or primitive styled quilts use yarn-dyed flannel for piecing and appliqué. Yarn Dyed fabric can be used to make lovely rag quilts because it frays nicely.

3.  Flannelette (or Flette in the trade) – Woven with flannelled yarns. This is the “low-end” soft and fuzzy flannel and sells for about $10 per metre. It is very practical and affordable for pyjamas, pillowcases, rag quilts, diapers and sheets. Flannelette is very basic fabric and serves a purpose for utilitarian projects. However, a quilt with flannelette will not hold up to everyday use and washing like a true flannel. Flannelette in a quilt will never last to become an heirloom; it is not designed to.

Hope this helps clarify the terminology for you as you select those soft fabrics for your fall and winter quilting.

Happy stitching!

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