Tips & Tricks

Flannel Quilt Tips

The Recycled Denim & Flannel Quilt is one of our most popular projects ever! The design has no intersections to match, is a nice 64” x 72” size, and best of all – is made with two 5-piece fat quarter flannel bundles and denim from old jeans.

Denim & Plaid Quilt

To get started, download the instructions here and collect some worn out jeans. You’ll need 50 5” x 8 ½” rectangles, and 6 smaller 5” x 4 ½” rectangles for the ends of rows. While the seams and pockets would be interesting to add, you’ll break needles sewing over all the thicknesses, so cut around them. Depending on the size, you’ll need six to eight pairs.  Let’s talk flannel.

Fabric Palette’s flannel bundles are found at Hobby Lobby and Meiers stores, but a few smaller shops have picked them up too. The first thing you’ll notice is the thick bundle, you won’t be able to resist picking one up! Ooohh – soft and fluffy, in yummy plaid colors you haven’t seen before. These aren’t your outdoor-man-flannel-shirt plaids.   These are Fabric Palette’s plaids. The product manager, Kim, picks the plaids and colors for all the bundles. She designs and creates new colorations for traditional, fashion, and baby flannels. Fresh and trendy colors in a plaid, or tradition with a twist, you’ll never get bored with her picks. (The inside scoop is that there will be new plaids in June – July, too – flannel all year!)

Tips for cutting and sewing:

1. The colors are yarn dyed, not printed, and are brushed on both sides, so you can use either side.

2. Don’t pre-wash because the pieces are cut on three sides.  Even in a mesh bag and cold, you could have some pulling and twisting and not be able to cut the pieces you need. Only wash when the quilt is finished, and use a dye-grabber in the wash, if you’re worried about dark colors.

3. Press, don’t iron the fabrics. Straighten the plaid while you iron. Using Best Press or a sizing spray will give some body to help while you’re cutting and sewing.

4. Cut with a fresh blade, one layer at a time if you want to stay on the weave and pattern. If you appreciate the whimsy in having off-kilter plaids, stack a few and don’t agonize over perfectly cut lines.  It will give your quilt a hand-made, ‘use me/love me’ look. Our sample has three pieces cut off grain, and still is charming:


5. Sew with a 80/12 needle and a slightly longer stitch. The thread will be buried in the weave, so sew slowly so you won’t want to make a mistake and have to pick out stitches.

6. Sew with regular foot or 1/4″ blade foot.  Use a walking foot only if your tension and feed dogs stretch the flannel-to-flannel pieces.  Pin in  the middle and ends, and a few places in between when sewing the rows together.

7. Flannel can be used as a backing, but keep in mind it’s extra weight and warmth. The fluffy fibers trap in heat. Some flannels are not as wide as 44” because of the finishing processes,so measure before you buy by the yard.

8. Clean your machine when you see fuzz. Brush or vacuum the bobbin case to keep the stitches even.

9. Quilting will be easier using a walking foot to quilt simple lines. Free motion quilting may stretch the flannel, and the denim can interrupt your smooth designs. Check with your long arm quilter to see if she will quilt on a denim/flannel quilt top, most do, but some machines are sensitive to lint.

10. To finish the Recycled Denim & Plaid quilt, as you add rows, the quilt will get heavier, so think about sewing completed rows in pairs, then sewing pairs together, etc.  Label the beginning of each row if you took the time to lay out the plaids and denims a certain way. The instructions show a random layout that you can recreate. It uses 10 fat quarters, and the right number of pieces.

Bonus: A light cotton batting and cotton backing were used, and 505 basting spray to keep the layers together.  Large safety pins will go through denim better than the tiny ones.  Quilt lines through every flannel piece, about every 3” – 4” or closer. The quilt will be heavy in the washer, so plenty of quilting will keep the layers together.  The binding was made with quilting cotton, not flannel, which would have made a very bulky edge. Finally, hand stitch to the back for a traditional finish.

For instructions to make your own flannel and denim quilt like the one below, click here.

Denim & Plaid Quilt

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