Flannel shirts aren't just for lumberjacks. Available in hundreds of patterns and colors, from traditional checks to florals and paisleys, flannel is perfect for creating a one-of-a-kind shirt that will grow more comfortable and soft with each washing.
Almost any shirt pattern suitable for cotton fabric can be made with flannel. Choose a western-style shirt with a yoke, collar and cuffs for a traditional look. Or go for an old-fashioned feel with a collarless shirt with a narrow one-button band instead of cuffs.
Heavy flannel works well with a sweatshirt pattern. You can even attach a sweatshirt knit collar, cuffs and bottom band to give it more of a sweatshirt fit.
Use contrasting flannel for the yoke or for collars and cuffs. Use several different flannel patterns in complementary colors for a patchwork look.
Find patterns at your local sewing store or free online.
Working with Flannel
If you're matching patterns or checks, remember to buy extra fabric. When you cut out your pattern pieces, move them around to make sure the pattern matches. Some flannels have a nap, or pile, that looks different depending upon the direction from which it's viewed. If your fabric has a nap, you need to be sure to cut all your pattern pieces with the nap lying in the same direction. This may require extra fabric. Flannel comes in different weights. A man's shirt requires a heavier flannel than a woman's blouse.
Preshrink your fabric by washing and drying it before you cut out your pattern pieces.
Flannel can dull the needle on your sewing machine quickly, so start with a new needle. If it dulls, change it. Flannel also creates a lot of lint, so clean your machine periodically to keep from gumming it up with lint.
Use decorative snaps instead of buttons for a western look. Use a contrasting thread for decorative top-stitching. Cotton flannel tends to fray, so overcast seam edges or trim with pinking sheers.
Wash flannels in cool water to keep them from fading. Flannel shirts become softer with time. The same qualities that make flannel so great for PJs will give you a shirt you won't want to take off.