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How do you keep it from pilling? Is it going to hold up to a lot of use? What about durability?
I got some variation of this question over and over and over again.
I understand! When my daughter was little, I made her a lot of pajama pants using all of those cute flannel prints you can find at the fabric store. Sometimes they held up really well, and sometimes they were very badly pilled after just one washing. And it seemed so random!
A lot of people also wanted to know about how well flannel would work for raw edge applique – particularly how badly it might fray.
I was worried about that too! So I decided to run a test.
I made two sample blocks – one flannel background with a cotton applique, and another flannel background with a flannel applique.
I tossed these blocks in every load of laundry I did for the last month. Everything – clothes, towels, sheets – everything. I put the blocks through both the washer and dryer with each load. That’s a lot of laundry and a pretty rugged test.
I was stunned by the results! In a good way. 🙂
Here’s the flannel background with the cotton applique.
No pilling! Not even a tiny bit! It gets a beautiful crinkle and the applique looks great. And did I mention that there’s no pilling?
And here’s the flannel block with the flannel applique.
No pilling – and no additional fraying on the applique!
I really expected to see more fraying around the edges but it’s pretty much the same as the smooth cotton.
The only difference I see is that the black outline and mouth line get a teeny bit lost in the fuzzier flannel surface. When I make a finished quilt (get the Peekaboo Bears quilt pattern here) I’ll use 12 wt. thread to outline the applique to get a slightly thicker line.
You know why the results are this good? I used good quality flannel! It makes such a difference.
For this test I used flannel from Timeless Treasures – the same manufacturer who makes the high-quality quilting cotton I use for many of my quilts. I’m so excited with how terrific the results are that I’m planning two quilts using it.
The first is a remake of the Peekaboo Bears quilt with flannel backgrounds and non-flannel applique. Here are just a few of those blocks.
And someday I’m going to make an applique rag quilt. Oh yes! I think it’ll work great to use my applique patterns for a rag quilt and I can’t wait to give it a try!
Update! I made the applique rag quilt and it turned out great! So cuddly and soft! There’s a tutorial here showing exactly how I made it.