Flannel is a wonderfully soft, fuzzy and warm fabric often used in clothing and bedding. It is a plain weave fabric typically made of cotton and comes in various weights. Unlike cotton bed sheets which are measured by the thread count, flannel fabric is measured in ounces per square yard. Higher quality flannel sheets will have a weight of at least 4 oz. per square yard. Flannel is loosely woven and therefore tends to shrink more than regular cotton fabrics. You may notice this when purchasing flannel sheets – Manufacturers typically over-cut the fabric to allow for shrinkage, so they tend to be a little large when new, but after washing fit more snugly.
Some flannels are brushed (napped) to create extra softness. Brushing or napping is a process where a fine metal brush gently scratches the surface of the fabric to create fine fibers from the loosely spun yarns. Flannel can have either short or long nap, and can be napped on one or two sides. Double-napped flannel refers to a fabric that has been brushed on both sides.
Flannel has become an American staple for cotton pajamas, robes, men’s shirts and bedding. It is typically a seasonal item and much more readily available in the cooler months.