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  • Writer's pictureSew Retro

Sewing with Flannel - tons of top tips !

Flannel is such an underrated fabric, traditionally made from wool, then cotton and now available with other synthetic fibers woven in. Its most commonly available to buy in a plaid pattern.

This seasons must have the "shacket" is crying out to be made in a fabulous cosy flannel plaid.

Scroll down for all the top tips for prepping you flannel fabric, it does shrink, so pre-washing is a must. Lots of shirts and "shackets" have a placket on the sleeve, keep scrolling for all the tips to sew the perfect placket on your shacket !

What is Flannel?

Flannel is a loosely woven fabric that has been brushed for softness, so it has a bit of a nap on one side (sometimes on both). It feels soft against the skin. Since it's warm and cosy, it is perfect for sewing shirts or shackets.

Originally flannel was made of wool, now cotton is very common, as well as other materials and blends.


It is very important to pre-wash flannel as it will shrink, it is best to wash your flannel on the programme and temperature that you plan to wash the finished garment on. Flannel also fray’s so do not forget to zigzag the raw edges or overlock before washing your length of fabric.

Sewing with Flannel

· All-Purpose Thread. After prewashing and shrinking your flannel fabric, using all-purpose thread, which is made of polyester and does not shrink it will also help flannel retain its sewn shape.

· Size14 or 16 Sewing Needle (for thicker wool Flannel). This large size needle will pierce thicker flannels more easily. If you are sewing with a thin flannel your normal size needle is perfect.

· A Walking Foot. Since Flannel tends to stretch and can distort more easily than many other fabrics, using a walking foot will help to prevent this, and feed the fabric evenly through the sewing machine when sewing.

· Fray Check or starch. This is especially handy when sewing small pieces of flannel, and will prevent the edges from fraying when sewing and handling.

· If you like to transfer your marking with a tracing wheel and tracing paper be sure to use a Smooth Edge Tracing Wheel and Wax Free Tracing Paper. When transferring markings to prevent the fabric from stretching. Using tailors tacks will avoid any stretching of the flannel.

This blog post has lots of tips for perfect and stress free pattern matching.

Tips for sewing plackets and cuffs.

A placket is basically an opening in clothing often on a shirt that allows easy access when putting the shirt on and off. It is usually used as opening in necklines and sleeve cuffs. Sometimes plackets are used solely as a decorative element especially with embroidery or in contrasting coloured fabrics.

They are several types of plackets but the one most used on a shirt cuff is called a Standard placket. It is a visible placket, also known as American placket the shirt fabric is folded back over the front and stitched to create a visible strip of raised fabric (sometimes an extra strip of fabric is attached instead of just folding)

When sewing plackets, they should be placed so that they can be comfortably accessed for fastening and unfastening.

Do not forget the rule in placket positioning – women’s clothing the right side of placket overlaps the left and on men’s clothing left side of the placket overlaps the right side.


If you have not sewn a placket before, I would recommend, a practice run. If you have enough of the fabric that you are using to make your garment that would be the best fabric to practice on, if not use some fabric that is a similar weight and feel. Use the pattern pieces provided with your pattern, follow the instructions, including interfacing the pattern pieces when indicated.

When sewing plackets, it is important to use interfacing. Plackets bear a lot of strain when they are being fastened and unfastened. Adding the correct weight interfacing will also make sewing much easier. The interfacing will make your fabric “crisp”, stop it fraying and the “crisp" fabric should be much easier to press and fold under before sewing.

I would also advise tacking any small and tricky sections of the placket.

Cutting your pattern pieces on the straight of grain is also important as it will lie flat and not twist during sewing.

When cutting the interfacing for the cuff it is only needed on the section of the cuff that faces your arm not the whole cuff, if you interfaced the whole cuff it would end up being very bulky and difficult to achieve a crisp professional finish. Clip excess fabric on the corners and layer the internal seams on the cuff, for a neat finish.

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