Can I Use Flannel Instead Of Batting?

For quilters and crafters such as yourself, batting is an essential component when making a quilt as it provides warmth and thickness. But some of you may wonder if there are alternative materials that can be used instead.

So, it’s natural for you to ask, “Can I use flannel instead Of batting?

Yes, you can use flannel instead of batting in your quilt. Using flannel will give your quilt a soft, lightweight feel contrary to the heavier and lofty feel of the batting. Using flannel makes it easier to quilt and gives it a smooth appearance. But flannel is a very sensitive fabric that is prone to shrinkage. So, unless you are quilting for your baby or the summer weather you should stick to regular batting.

We will explore the advantages of using flannel rather than batting in this article.

Can I Use Flannel Instead Of Batting?

Using flannel as batting can be an exciting and unconventional choice when it comes to quilting. Flannel, known for its softness and warmth, can provide a lightweight option for creating cozy quilts or coverlets. But there may be some drawbacks too that you should know.

can flannel be used as batting
Source: Reddit

Advantages of Using Flannel Instead Of Batting:

By now, you know you can use flannel instead of batting. Is there any benefit to it? Why should you use flannel instead of batting? Here are three advantages of using flannel instead of batting.

The Cozy Lightweight Feel:

Using flannel as batting can result in a quilt or coverlet that is lightweight and comfortable. Flannel is renowned for its plushness and warmth, making it a top choice for crafting projects with a snug feel.

For summer quilts where you seek a lighter alternative that still offers ample insulation without feeling excessively burdensome, it is a particularly good choice. Likewise, flannel lends itself well to other endeavors where you want a quilt with a supple, less rigid drape, adding a touch of breezy elegance.

Smooth Appearance:

Another advantage of using flannel as batting is that it can provide a flatter, smoother appearance to your finished quilt. Traditional quilt batting can create puffiness or loftiness, which may not be desirable for everyone. 

In contrast, flannel tends to lay flatter and may not require as much quilting to hold it in place. This can result in a more minimalist or streamlined look for your quilt, with less visible quilting lines. This can be beneficial if you prefer a cleaner, more modern aesthetic for your quilts. Or if you want to highlight the fabric or design of your quilt top.

Ease of Quilting:

Using flannel as batting can also offer versatility for different quilting styles. It can be a good option for simple quilting patterns or straight-line quilting, as it may not require as much quilting density to hold it in place as traditional batting. This can save time and effort during the quilting process, while still providing a quilted appearance to your project.

Disadvantages of Using Flannel Instead Of Batting:

If you’re thinking about using flannel as batting for your quilting projects, it’s worth taking a moment to consider some of the potential downsides. Let’s dig deeper into some of the possible disadvantages of swapping out traditional batting for flannel.

Potential Shrinkage:

Flannel, a cozy and soft fabric often used as batting in quilting, comes with a potential concern: shrinkage. If the flannel hasn’t been pre-washed, it may shrink, which could impact the size and fit of the final quilt.

Potential Shrinkage
Source: Bare Home

Compared to other fabrics, flannel has a higher shrinkage rate, making it susceptible to changes in size during washing. To minimize this risk, it’s advisable to pre-wash and dry flannel fabric multiple times before using it as batting. This ensures a more stable and well-fitting quilt.

Less-Defined Quilting Lines:

Another potential disadvantage of using flannel as batting is that the quilting lines may be less defined compared to traditional batting. Flannel tends to lay flatter and may not create the same level of loftiness as other types of batting, which can result in less pronounced quilting lines. 

You may not need to worry about this if you want a quilt with prominent quilting lines or if you plan to use quilting in your design.

When Should You Use Flannel Instead of Batting?

Flannel can make a great substitute for traditional batting in many quilting projects. A few situations where flannel may work well are as follows:

If You Want Lightweight and Breathable Quilts for Summer:

Flannel can be an excellent option for creating lightweight and breathable quilts or coverlets for the summer months. Its softness and warmth make it ideal for a cozy feel without adding excessive weight or bulk, making it perfect for warmer weather or climates where a heavy quilt may not be desired.

If You Want a Minimalist or Streamlined Quilt:

If you prefer a more minimalist or streamlined look for your quilts, flannel can be a great choice as it typically lays flatter and may not require as much quilting to hold it in place compared to traditional batting. This can result in a clean and simple appearance for your finished quilt.

If You Want a Quilt with Less Effort:

With its thinner nature, flannel is easier to quilt, especially if it is not used with traditional batting. With looser quilting or larger intervals, it can save time and effort in the quilting process. Those who wish to create quilts with a more casual or relaxed style may find this useful.

If You Want a Quilt For Rough Use:

Flannel is durable and holds up well in the wash, making it a practical choice for quilts or coverlets that will be regularly cleaned. If you anticipate frequent washing or use, flannel can be a good option as it can withstand regular laundering without losing its shape or integrity.

If You Want a Baby Quilt:

Flannel can be an excellent choice for baby quilts or other lightweight projects where you want a soft and gentle fabric that provides warmth without being too heavy. Its breathable nature and softness make it comfortable for babies while also being easy to care for.

For Experimentation:

Using flannel gives you the flexibility to play around with diverse textures and styles, which will give you the opportunity to create one-of-a-kind quilting designs. If you enjoy exploring different types of fabrics, flannel is a fantastic fabric to consider.

What’s the Best Flannel to Quilt With?

If you’re planning to quilt, you should consider higher-quality flannel and higher thread counts. This will ensure better durability, washability, and a smoother quilting experience. 

However, if you do opt for lower-priced flannel, be aware of its limitations and take appropriate precautions during the quilting process to avoid potential issues.

lower-quality flannel
Source: Best Products

For example, one common issue with lower-quality flannel is its lower thread count. While it may be soft and cuddly, even just one wash can cause pilling, which can affect the appearance and durability of your quilt. 

Additionally, lower-quality flannel may come with distorted plaid, which can make it challenging to work with, as flannel is already woven loosely. To avoid creating holes in the fabric, seams may need to be ripped carefully.

Higher thread count flannels, on the other hand, are often double-sided, wash and wear well, and may shrink and fray less. So, if possible, always choose the flannel with a higher thread count, preferably with 170+ GSM. 

How to Use Flannel Instead of Batting to Make Quilts?

Using flannel as a quilt batting may not be as straightforward as you think. Flannel can be a quite sensitive material to use instead of batting. Also, you must be careful to avoid injuries while using the sewing machine. That’s why you better check out how to properly use flannel as batting.

Preparing the Flannel:

When it comes to using flannel as a substitute for batting in your quilting project, some extra steps are necessary to ensure optimal results. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you prepare flannel for quilting:

Step 1: Pre-Wash the Flannel

Flannel is known to shrink significantly during washing, so it’s important to pre-wash it before using it in your quilting project. Use mild detergent and wash with hot water to get the shrinking out of the way. 

Step 2: Dry the Flannel

After washing, drying is equally important. Use high heat to ensure the flannel is fully dried. To prevent twisting and wrinkles, you can add a large bath towel to the dryer along with the flannel.

Step 3: Increase Seam Allowance

Due to flannel’s tendency to fray easily, it’s recommended to increase your seam allowance when quilting with flannel. Typically, a 1/4″ seam allowance is used in quilting, but with flannel, it’s best to increase it to 1/2″. This may require purchasing up to a quarter yard more of flannel, but the extra allowance is worth it for a cleaner finish.

Step 4: Press the Flannel

Before sewing, it’s a good idea to press the flannel to remove any wrinkles. However, avoid ironing the flannel as it can stretch the fabric too much due to its stretchy nature. Instead, try pressing the flannel by holding the iron in place for a few seconds. Alternatively, you can also use starch to help with sewing.

Make the Quilt:

Now that you have prepared the flannel, here’s how you can use it to make a quilt-

  • To start, cut your quilt top fabric and your flannel backing fabric to the same size.
  • Then place your flannel backing fabric on your work surface, right side down.
  • Layer your quilt top fabric on top of the flannel, right side up.
  • Pin the layers together, making sure they are smooth and wrinkle-free.
  • Sew the layers together using a walking foot on your sewing machine. Start in the center of the quilt and work your way out toward the edges.
  • Use a longer stitch length than you would for quilting with regular batting, to prevent stretching.
  • Cut around the edges of the fabric and flannel after you have sewn all the layers together.
  • Finally, finish the edges of your quilt as desired. You can use binding, or simply fold the edges over and sew them down.

For clearer instructions, you check out this video: 

While sewing you must be on the lookout o prevent the upper thread from getting caught in the shuttle hook.

How to Cleanup After You’re Done:

In order to keep your quilt and your sewing machine in good condition after you make a quilt with flannel, you should take some post-quilting care steps. Here are some things to do:

  • Clean the bobbin and needle: Flannel tends to produce a lot of lint due to its looser weave. Use a compressed gas duster or a lint brush to clean out the bobbin area and around the needle after you’re finished with your flannel project. By doing this, you will be able to prevent lint buildup and your sewing machine will run more smoothly.

Also, before working, you should choose the bobbing thread that’s suitable. 60wt and 90wt bobbing threads are popular in the market now.

  • Trim loose threads: Trim loose threads carefully with scissors if you find any on your quilt. The loose threads on flannel can unravel over time, so you should be on the lookout for those.
  • Give the quilt a gentle shake or brush: There is a possibility that lint or fuzz may accumulate on the surface of the quilt. You can remove any loose lint or fuzz from the surface of your quilt by shaking it gently or using a soft brush.
  • Wash and dry if necessary: Depending on how heavily you’ve used your flannel quilt, you may want to wash and dry it to freshen it up. Follow the care instructions on the fabric or quilt pattern for the best results. Use mild detergent and avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach that could damage the flannel fabric.
  • Store properly: When not in use, store your flannel quilt in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent fading or discoloration. You can also fold it neatly and place it in a protective cover or bag to keep it clean and dust-free.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Is flannel hard to sew?

Yes, sewing with flannel can be a bit more challenging compared to other fabrics because it tends to stretch and shift as you work with it. This can make it harder to maintain accurate seam allowances and keep the fabric in place as you sew.

Can you use a towel as batting?

Yes, lightweight towels can be used as a substitute for batting in quilting, but it will result in a quilt with a different thickness and feel compared to traditional batting. Towels can provide some loft and warmth to a quilt, but they may not have the same insulation properties or loftiness as batting specifically designed for quilting. 

What type of batting is best?

Cotton batting is a common choice for quilting due to its softness, breathability, warmth, and ease of use. Other types of good batting, such as polyester, wool, bamboo, and silk, have their own unique qualities.


Hopefully, after a long discussion you will be able to answer your question Can I use flannel instead of batting?

To sum up, flannel can be a viable alternative to batting in certain situations. However, it may not provide the same level of insulation, loft, or durability as batting. 

Therefore, you need to consider your project’s specific requirements. Before using flannel as a suitable replacement for batting, you should always test and experiment.

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