Flannels: The Original Fall Fabric

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Imagine 17th-century wales. The climate is cold and moist. People working for the textile industry were poor and were desperate for warm clothes. One of them decided to use the leftover sheep’s wool to create a fabric that was comfortable, warm, and moisture-wicking. It was the beginning of something beautiful. The world renounced flannel fabrics were born.


What are Flannel fabrics?

Flannel fabrics are a type of fabric that is made using wool, cotton, or any other synthetic fibers. A flannel fabric simply is a loosely woven fabric. In the earlier days, flannels were made using worsted yarn or carded wool. Nowadays, we can see flannels being made using various other fibers.


History of flannel fabrics

As we saw in the introduction of this article that Wales was the origin country for flannel fabrics. It is recorded that the attempt to create a warn and moisture-wicking fabric using the leftover sheep’s wool lead to the flannel fabrics invention.

During the following years after the initial uses of flannel fabrics, people began preferring flannel fabrics during the fall and / Winter seasons. The work uniform fabric slowly transitioned into the wardrobes of the working-class people.

Flannels then crossed its borders to reach England and France and rose to be the center of manufacturing during the industrial revolution.

“During World War 1, flannel fabric layers were included in the uniforms of the United States military uniform to help the soldiers with additional warming. This was the twentieth century.”

Flannel fabrics were extremely popular among French and European citizens during the enlightenment era. Slowly flannels traveled throughout the world to create nation distinct flannels. Each country had its own method of creating flannels.


How flannel fabrics are made?

Flannel fabrics are made using a simple 4 step method.

  1. Raw material sourcing

The raw material required for flannel fabric manufacturing is acquired from trusted sources. It can be made using wool, cotton, or any other type of synthetic fibers. Manufacturers source the raw materials depending on the desired end result.

2. Developing yarns

Once the yarns are sourced, it is then processed in a spinning mill to produce yarns. It is important to note that the unique features of flannel fabric are not acquired on the yarns. It is later achieved during the weaving stage.

3. Fabric development

The yarns are collected and woven to form flannel fabrics. It is popular in the industry to use plain or twill weaving structures for producing flannel fabrics. The key distinguisher of flannel fabrics is that it is soft to the skin. For achieving this, one or both sides of the fabrics are put to a process called napping. The napping procedure converts the looks of a spun fiber to that of unspun fiber. This process decreases the overall strength of the fabric even though the fibers are woven in a matrix structure.

4. Fabric treatment

Based on the desired final output, various treatments are done on the fabric before it is used for commercial use. Eg: For flannel fabrics that are made using synthetic fibers are often treated with a flame-resistant coating. Flannel fabrics are made from natural fibers so not need this treatment as they are naturally flame-resistant.


What are the properties of flannel fabrics?

Flannel fabrics are unique for their properties. Anyone can distinguish flannel fabrics from other fabrics using their eyes and touch.

  1. Comfortable and cozy: Flannel fabrics are made out of soft fibers loosely woven to each other with a napped, brushed texture.
  2. Traps heat: Flannels are highly sorted after in cold regions and countries for their ability to stay warm and trap heat between the body and the fabric.
  3. Releases moisture: Due to its loosely woven style of weaving, the flannel fabric helps to release moisture without trapping them inside the body.


What are the various flannel fabrics available?

With the popularity of flannels, people started to use them for various purposes. Each flannel fabrics that were made from various raw material had different characteristics. Based on this, it is further divided into three.

  1. Cotton Flannel

Cotton Flannel fabrics are basically cotton fabric that is woven in a twill weaving structure. It can either have a loose weave or a tight weave. It can also have napped on either of both sides. Cotton flannels are also known as Canton flannel. Mostly it is used for the purpose of making clothes like jackets, sleep wears and blankets.

2. Bocking flannel

It is a type of flannel fabric that was used initially during the Victorian era to protect their privacy from their servants by creating a layer between their quarters. It is also recorded that bocking flannels were used forecasting protective layers for tables, doors, and even for carpet making. It is also known as the baize fabric. Mostly made out of cotton or wool.

3. Linsey Woolsey

Linsey Woolsey is a type of flannel fabric that was initially in use during the colonial period of the United States. It is made from linen and wool. Linen is on the warp section and wool is on the weft section. It is recorded that linen was later replaced by cotton to make the linsey Woolsey flannel fabrics. It was a popular type of fabric due to its weight and warmth.


What are the main uses of flannel fabrics?

Flannels are used for making a whole gamut of items with popularity for clothes. Shirts, overalls, sweaters, and other layer items are available in the market today. As we have seen in the earlier sections, it is also used for making carpets, furniture covering, used as curtains, accessories like bags and belts, homewares, décor items, etc.


What is the difference between Flannel fabric and Plaid?

While shopping it is easy to get confused between a flannel fabric and a plaid fabric because it is often used interchangeably. The simplest way to understand the difference is this:

Flannel = Fabric

Plaid = Pattern

Yes, plaid is only a certain type of pattern that can be made in flannel fabric. Any type of fabric can have a plaid pattern. It is a crisscross pattern formed by vertical and horizontal bands of colors. But flannels are unique and cannot be woven in any other way.


Who manufactures flannel fabrics today?

Flannel fabrics are manufactured in small quantities throughout the world. But as per the sewport report on raw material cultivation, we can say that:

  • China is the largest synthetic textile producer
  • India is the world’s biggest producer of cotton
  • Australia is the world’s biggest producer of wool

These are the key pieces of information we have to understand who is the major producer of flannel fabrics in the world.


Are flannel fabrics costly?

Since flannel can be made from a variety of raw materials like cotton, wool, etc, the price can vary anywhere between $10 to $70. This is the price of a product. To receive a quote for flannel fabrics, contact us.


Environmental impact of flannel fabric manufacturing

Just like normal fabric manufacturing, it has some negative environmental impacts like electricity usage, farmland use, resources, and other labor issues. But if you are looking for sustainable flannel fabrics make sure that you are buying GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) or GRS (Global Recycled Standard) certified products from the manufacturer.

If you want to know what these sustainability certifications are, read here: https://dineshexports.com/the-truth-behind-sustainability-certifications/


Flannel fabrics, contact us for custom orders.


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