I have made several flannel quilts and in my 20's, I wore flannel nightgowns. I don't wear flannel anymore because I find it way too warm which makes it ideal for cozy quilts. However, of all the quilts I have made, the flannel ones are those that have self destructed. They wear, rip, sag and generally fall apart easily. Why? I want to know more facts about flannel. Who's with me?
1. What it is - I read this entry from Britannica several times as I was fascinated with the various types and descriptions of flannel. Generally, I learned from the article that the types of yarn as well as the napping are the qualities of flannel. There is lots more information which you might enjoy.
2. History - I found a terrific article on the history of flannel at HighSnobiety complete with pictures. It has the fabric starting with farmers in the 1600's in Scotland. It also describes the manufacturing process during the Industrial Revolution which spread the use of this fabric.
3. History part two - As often is the case, there is some dispute over who first started wearing flannel. WiseGeek.com claims it was Wales but agrees on the 17th century. I also liked its point about how in the States, we associate it with lumberjacks and other workers who spend a great deal of time outdoors.
4. Cotton flannel - In quilting, it is more common to use cotton flannel than any other kind. On the Cotton website it defines cotton flannel as a type of cotton which is napped or fuzzy on one or both sides. They mention its use in sheets, baby clothes and shirts but not quilts.
5. Organic cotton flannel - It was fascinating to read the organic flannel site as they are so enraptured with their product. It was useful for me to learn that thread count is not significant for flannel as the best flannel has thick fibers which trap heat and are brushed.
6. Shrinkage - I read quite a bit about the WHY and the loose weave as well as the way it is rolled various times from production to retail seem to be the culprit. What that means for me and you is that flannel will indeed shrink and even if you do not generally prewash your fabrics, this is one you should. According to this forum, buy at least a quarter yard extra to allow for shrinkage.
7. Image - I found so many entertaining websites about flannel but one of the most amusing was The Wolf and Iron Manliness which claimed that there are no other articles of clothing which portray manliness more than a flannel (preferably wool flannel) shirt. Once that opinion is done, the post actually had some good information about flannel.
8. Grunge - Many articles and opinions associate flannel shirts and the Grunge look out of Seattle in the 90's. However, the New York Times article claims this was actually the end of the grunge era. I am not going to get into that but I do remember teaching when this look was really popular. Now, flannel seems to be part of the Hipster uniform. What is old is new again!
9. Quilting - I have made quite a few flannel quilts however I learned quite a bit reading this forum on sewing flannel quilts. Among the best tips are wash and dry it twice in hot, use a walking foot as it is unstable and replace your needle often. I plan to revisit when I make another flannel quilt.
10. Expressions - I couldn't think of any expressions that we use in the States with the word flannel but I found out that in Britain people say, Don't give me that flannel! And they are not talking about fabric, flannel here means rubbish or lies. I am going to start using it immediately.
11, Old West - I was equally delighted to find a website with Old West Expressions which says that Flannel Mouth meant a overly smooth, fast talker like a politician or salesman. Some things never change!
12. Flannel design board - I bought a portable flannel design board as mine is not on a wall. But if you have a wall available, you can make your own. Here is one of many videos on how to do it.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and don't think I'm a flannel mouth. I promise, I am not handing you any flannel!
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