Sewing with flannel can present unique challenges compared to other fabrics. Flannel is a soft, warm, and cozy fabric that is often used for blankets, pajamas, and other comfortable clothing. However, flannel can also be difficult to sew with due to its tendency to fray, stretch, and shrink.
In this article, we will explore some of the common problems that arise when sewing with flannel and provide solutions to help you successfully sew with this fabric.
If you are struggling with sewing flannel or are new to working with this fabric, don’t worry!
With some tips and tricks, you can overcome these challenges and create beautiful, cozy projects with flannel.
In the following sections, we will discuss some of the most common problems when sewing with flannel and provide solutions to help you avoid these issues and achieve great results.
Sewing with flannel can be a bit tricky, especially when it comes to achieving even seams.
Here are some tips to help:
- Use a walking foot: A walking foot helps to evenly feed the fabric through the machine, which can help to prevent uneven seams.
- Adjust your stitch length: A shorter stitch length can help to prevent the fabric from shifting as you sew, which can result in more even seams.
- Pin generously: Use plenty of pins to hold the fabric in place before sewing. This can help to prevent the fabric from shifting and result in more even seams.
- Press as you go: Pressing the fabric as you sew can help to set the stitches and prevent the fabric from shifting, resulting in more even seams.
By following these tips, you can help to achieve more even seams when sewing with flannel.
Flannel Tends to Shrink Quite a Lot
One of the most common problems when sewing flannel is that it tends to shrink quite a lot.
This is because flannel has a looser weave in order to trap air pockets and make the fabric warm. When the fabric is washed, it can shrink up to 10% of its original size. This can be a big problem if you have already cut out your pattern pieces and then the fabric shrinks.
To avoid this problem, it is necessary to prewash flannel fabric before sewing. This will allow the fabric to shrink before you cut out your pattern pieces. It is also recommended to wash the flannel in hot water and dry it on high heat to get the most shrinkage out of the fabric.
Another tip to prevent shrinking is to avoid using fabric softeners or dryer sheets when washing and drying flannel.
These products can leave a residue on the fabric that can affect its ability to shrink properly.
- Always prewash flannel fabric before sewing to prevent shrinking.
- Wash flannel in hot water and dry on high heat to get the most shrinkage out of the fabric.
- Avoid using fabric softeners or dryer sheets when washing and drying flannel.
By following these tips, you can prevent flannel from shrinking too much and ensure that your finished project will be the correct size.
One common issue when sewing with flannel fabric is fabric puckering.
This occurs when the fabric bunches up and creates small, unsightly wrinkles in the finished product.
Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks to avoid this problem.
- Pre-wash your flannel fabric before sewing. Flannel is known to shrink, so pre-washing can help prevent puckering caused by uneven shrinkage.
- Use a walking foot when sewing flannel. This type of foot helps to evenly feed the fabric through the sewing machine, reducing the likelihood of puckering.
- Adjust the sewing machine tension. Too much tension can cause the fabric to bunch up and pucker, so experiment with different tension settings until you find the right one for your project.
Another cause of fabric puckering is using the wrong needle. Make sure to use a needle that is appropriate for flannel fabric, such as a size 12 or 14 universal needle. Using a needle that is too small can cause the fabric to bunch up and pucker.
Finally, take your time when sewing with flannel. Rushing through a project can increase the risk of puckering and other mistakes. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to sewing with flannel!
Flannel fabric is known to stretch easily, and this can be a problem when sewing.
We have a good article here with the best stitches for stretchy fabric.
Here are a few tips to prevent fabric stretching:
- Use a walking foot when sewing to avoid the fabric from stretching.
- Always prewash the flannel fabric before sewing to remove any shrinkage.
- When ironing the fabric, use a low heat setting to avoid stretching.
- Handle the fabric gently when cutting and sewing to prevent stretching.
Another issue that can cause fabric stretching is the tension on the sewing machine.
Here are a few tips to adjust the tension:
- Decrease the tension slightly to prevent the fabric from stretching.
- Use a regular straight stitch to construct your seams. Increase your stitch length to around a 3.0mm to avoid stretching.
- When sewing, hold the fabric taut but not too tight to prevent stretching.
By following these tips, you can prevent fabric stretching and ensure that your flannel projects turn out beautiful and professional-looking.
We also have more tips on avoiding stretchy issues in our aricle with common issues when sewing fleece.
Edges fray quite easily
One of the biggest problems with sewing flannels is that the edges tend to fray quite easily. This can make it difficult to work with and can result in a messy and unprofessional-looking finished product.
Here are a few tips to help you deal with this issue:
- Use a fabric stabilizer to help the fabric stay rigid while sewing. Fabric stabilizers hold your fabric rigid so it’s easier to sew, leading to less fraying.
- Zigzag the edges before pre-treating to keep fraying close to zero – for when you need every little bit and thread of your flannel piece.
- Use pinking shears or a wavy rotary cutting blade on the edges and clip the corners off about ½” before washing.
Another option is to apply Fray Check to the edges of your fabric before sewing. This is especially handy when sewing small pieces of flannel, and will prevent the edges from fraying when sewing and handling.
It’s also important to use the right needle and thread when sewing flannel. A sharp needle and a strong, heavy-duty thread will help to prevent fraying and ensure that your stitches hold up over time.
By taking these steps, you can minimize fraying and ensure that your flannel projects turn out looking neat, tidy, and professional.
One of the most common problems when sewing with flannel is fabric slipping. This can happen when the fabric moves around while you are trying to sew, resulting in uneven seams and a poorly finished project.
Here are some tips to prevent this from happening:
- Use pins or clips to hold the fabric in place. This will help prevent the fabric from moving around while you are sewing.
- Consider using a walking foot or a dual feed foot. These specialized sewing machine feet help feed the fabric through the machine evenly, preventing slipping.
- Adjust the presser foot pressure. If the pressure is too high, it can cause the fabric to slip. Try reducing the pressure to see if it helps.
- Use a stabilizer. A stabilizer can help prevent fabric slipping by adding some extra weight and stability to the fabric. Try using a lightweight stabilizer or interfacing to see if it helps.
By following these tips, you can prevent fabric slipping and create a well-finished project when sewing with flannel.
One of the most common problems encountered when sewing flannel fabric is thread bunching. This occurs when the thread gathers up and creates a clump of thread underneath the fabric.
It can be frustrating and time-consuming to fix, but there are a few things you can do to prevent it from happening.
The first thing to check is your tension.
If your tension is too tight, it can cause the thread to bunch up. Try decreasing your tension slightly and see if that helps. You can also try increasing your stitch length to around 3.0mm, which can help prevent thread bunching.
Another cause of thread bunching is using the wrong needle. Make sure you are using the correct size and type of needle for your fabric. A needle that is too small or too dull can cause thread bunching as well.
Finally, it is important to make sure your fabric is properly prepared before sewing. Sewing unwashed flannel can result in bunching and puckered seams. Make sure to prewash and dry your flannel fabric before sewing to prevent this issue.
- Check your tension and adjust if necessary
- Use the correct size and type of needle
- Pre-wash and dry your flannel fabric before sewing
By following these tips, you can help prevent thread bunching when sewing with flannel fabric. Remember to always take your time and be patient when sewing to ensure the best results.
Preparing the Fabric
Proper preparation of flannel fabric is crucial for successful sewing projects.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Wash and dry your flannel fabric before cutting and sewing. This will help prevent shrinking and distortion of the fabric after the project is complete.
- Use a gentle detergent and avoid fabric softeners, which can leave a residue on the fabric and affect its absorbency.
- Iron your flannel fabric before cutting to remove any wrinkles or creases. Use a low heat setting and press gently to avoid flattening the fabric’s texture.
When cutting your flannel fabric, it’s important to pay attention to the direction of the fabric’s nap. Flannel has a raised surface that can create a shading effect when the nap is brushed in one direction. To ensure consistency and avoid shading, cut all pieces in the same direction.
Another tip for working with flannel is to use a rotary cutter and self-healing mat to cut your fabric. This will help prevent fraying and ensure clean, straight edges.
Finally, consider using a stabilizer or interfacing to reinforce your flannel fabric before sewing. This can help prevent stretching and distortion, especially in areas with heavy use or stress.
Fabric Ends May Curl and Roll
One of the most common problems when sewing flannel is the curling and rolling of the fabric ends. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including the type of flannel, the stitch length, and the tension of the thread.
One way to prevent curling and rolling is to pre-wash your flannel fabric before sewing.
This will help to remove any excess dye or chemicals that may cause the fabric to curl. Also, make sure to use a stabilizer or interfacing to prevent the fabric from stretching or curling during sewing.
Another way to prevent curling and rolling is to adjust the stitch length and tension of your sewing machine. A shorter stitch length and tighter tension can help to hold the fabric in place and prevent curling.
Additionally, using a walking foot or a differential feed foot can help to evenly feed the fabric through the machine and prevent curling and rolling.
Finally, consider using a different type of flannel fabric. Some flannels are more prone to curling and rolling than others. Look for flannels that have a tighter weave or are made with a blend of fibers that are less likely to curl.
- Pre-wash your flannel fabric before sewing
- Use a stabilizer or interfacing to prevent stretching or curling
- Adjust stitch length and tension on your sewing machine
- Consider using a different type of flannel fabric
Flannel can be sensitive to high heat
When it comes to sewing with flannel, it’s important to be mindful of the heat.
Flannel can be sensitive to high temperatures and can easily shrink or become damaged if not handled properly. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Washing: Always wash flannel in cold water to prevent shrinking. Avoid using hot water or high heat settings in the dryer, as this can cause the fibers to shrink and damage the fabric.
- Drying: It’s best to air dry flannel fabric or dry it on a low heat setting. High heat can cause the fibers to shrink and damage the fabric.
- Ironing: Use a low heat setting when ironing flannel to avoid damaging the fibers. It’s also a good idea to iron on the wrong side of the fabric to prevent any damage to the surface.
By being mindful of the heat when handling flannel, you can avoid any damage to the fabric and ensure that your finished project looks great for years to come.