What is flannel?
A plush, warm fabric of various weights and fineness, flannel is a plain-weave cloth that has been heavily brushed or carded for a soft napped finish. The brushing process creates insulating air pockets in the interlocking fibers that enhance its luxurious warmth. Cotton flannel is a favorite choice for pajamas and robes, cold-weather apparel, and bedding. A medium-weight fabric, wool flannel is a soft twilled fabric with a loose texture and napped surface to conceal the weave. Wool flannel is used mainly for suits and business attire.
History of flannel
Derived from the Welsh word for wool, gwlanen, flannel was being woven in Wales as early as the 16 th century. The French were using flanelle by the late 17th century, and a German word for the fabric, flannell, can be traced back to the early 1800s, indicating the use of this soft, warm material for clothing and bed linens during harsh German winters.
Flannel bed sheets
A favorite during the winter months for many, flannel sheet sets come in varying degrees of softness and density. Flannel can be napped on one side (good for sleeping in flannel pajamas) or on both for softness and comfort (great for duvet covers). An important indicator of quality for flannel sheeting is the measure in ounces per square yard. A weight of 4 oz. or better is the mark of a good quality flannel.
Most flannel sheet sets come from three sources: England, Portugal, and Germany. English flannel sheeting tends to be very dense and heavy (usually weighing approximately 6 ounces or more), with only a slight nap. Legendary for its durability (said to “ wear like iron”), English flannel sheets are remarkably warm and can be used all year long. Renowned for its ability to hold color saturation and prints, Portuguese flannel usually has a lower weight and looser weave, making it ideal for use with rich colors and patterns. Sumptuous German flannel is celebrated as the softest and most luxurious, generally weighing approximately 5 ounces per square yard.