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Mixing different types of quilt fabric together in the same quilt

Can I use flannel and other cotton quilt fabrics together on a quilt top? Or should it be all flannel?




Of course you can! But you'll want to take a couple of things into consideration as you work on your quilt.

Fabric shrinkage...

I find that the looser the weave of the fabric, the more it shrinks when you wash it. Conversely, the tighter the weave, the less shrinkage there is.

Because flannel makes such a cuddly quilt, I'm assuming that this is a quilt that you'll need to wash at some point. So my recommendation is to prewash all your fabrics for this quilt. That way you won't have some fabrics shrinking a little and the flannel shrinking a lot.

The pre-washing kind of evens out the playing field.

For a real life example, the quilt block below is from a quilt I'm currently working on.

Midnight Silhouette, quilt pattern by Blackbird Designs

The quilt pattern is "Midnight Silhouette" by Blackbird Designs (if you purchase this pattern from somewhere, please let me know, there's an error in the instructions). In it I've used a combination of flannels, homespuns, quilting cottons and my own hand dyed cotton sateen to get the colors and textures I wanted.

All of the pieces in the house are flannels and homespuns. Even though they are invisibly machine appliqued to the top of the block, everything single piece was prewashed to even out the shrinkage. I must wash the quilt to remove the glue used in the applique process, so dealing with it (the shrinkage) is a must.

Do check for washing instructions on the bolts of fabric. I was really surprised when doing research for another page. There are a lot of quilt fabrics out there where the recommended washing temperature is 'cool'. Not what THIS quilter would expect?! Cool water...even for flannels???...I had ALWAYS washed them in hot to shrink them. I learn something new every day!

Thickness of the fabric and accurate seam allowances...

Your flannel fabric tends to be thicker than regular quilting cottons. I suggest you do a little 'seam allowance' testing before cutting out all the fabric strips and shapes.

If you're always sewing a flannel to a flannel or always a flannel to a quilting problem, you just set the seam allowance, test, tweak and go.

But if you're switching back and forth, I'd take the time to do just a wee bit of extra testing, especially if there are a lot of seam allowances in the individual block. You needn't spend too much time on this testing. Flannel is a very forgiving fabric to work with and an extra pin here and there to hold things in place should take care of everything.

I hope this information is helpful to you!


Julie Baird

Comments for Mixing different types of quilt fabric together in the same quilt

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Thank you
by: Treva Ann

I had the same question. I appreciate your answer.

From the Editor: I'm glad it was helpful.

Happy Quilting!


Julie B

Mixing fabric types
by: Trudy H.

Can you mix wool and cotton in a quilt all pre-washed?

From the Editor: If you're making a quilt with wool applique, then I'd pretreat as the pattern suggests.

If I was considering piecing wool and cotton together AND it was a quilt that would be washed, I wouldn't do it.

Wool washes differently than cotton because it has little 'hooks' or 'barbs' in it.

That's my personal preference.

If your heart is set on it, test on a small quilt...literally a block with piecing and quilting that mimics the piecing you intend. Then treat it as you expect to treat it.

Does it hold up for you? Any weird shrinkage or puckering that isn't in your vision for the project?

Wool is much pricier than cotton, so it's worth the small price to test before committing to a big project,

I hope this helps.


Julie B

thank you
by: barbara

Thank you for that. It was really informative and put my mind at rest.

Such a Happy Idea
by: CarolynS

I stumbled upon your loving, immensely creative way to honor your loved ones while looking for comments about a particular sewing machine.
Should I regain a space and repaired/new machine, this will be one of my first projects with my late Father's
shirts and overalls.

Old t-shirts
by: Marisa

Hello, I would like to know how will it affect the use of old t-shirts mixed with regular quilting cotton fabric. I have lots of t-shirts from my sons that have a special meaning (trips, childhood photos ..), that I would like to give to them in a quilt.

They’re all use and washed a million times over.

Any help and suggestions are welcome.

From the Editor: The t-shirts are all 'pre-washed' so there's not going to be any shrinkage or bleeding to consider.

The wildcards are the quilting fabrics. I'd recommend pre-washing your quilting fabrics to clean and shrink them. Then do a bleed test to see that they don't bleed.

Prewashing doesn't guarantee that fabrics won't bleed.

Other than that, you're good to go.

Here's to a very enjoyable quilting project!

~ Julie

by: Debbie Delany

The question is do you wash the whole piece of material.

I’m trying to do the backing and I have a bolt of material for several quilts. Do I cut them into the yard and half?

I’m so confused.

From the Editor: If you are a prewasher—meaning you ALWAYS prewash everything—then yes, do the whole bolt. Then you know everything in your stash is 100% prewashed.

If, on the other hand, you sometimes pre-wash, sometimes not, then do only what you need.

Finally, if you don't want to 'chunk' down the bolt into small, more manageable lengths because you don't know how you'll use it in the future, then cut what you need for this particular backing. Add a bit for some shrinkage in the wash and wash only that portion.

Then mark the bolt UNWASHED. While you think you'd remember stuff like this, marking the bolt is such a quick and simple step, it's a smart bit of insurance.

If you have lots of bolts of fabric in your stash, perhaps have a 'personal rule' that anything on a bolt in never prewashed. A simple way to keep things in your stash organized.

Great question. Thanks for asking.


Julie Baird

fabric from an estate
by: Anonymous

Thank you so much!

I have been asked to make a quilt from a box of very mixed fabrics passed on to my cousin as part of her friends' estate. Lil is the deceased and Lil has spent years gathering fabrics with the box that I have to work with all gut to around 12" square. Must be more than one hundred of them at the very least. Such a variety of fabric and a huge range of colours.

Really I was dreading the box actually arriving here in rural Australia and there you were with encouragement and answers on how to solve the shrinkage problem. I'm delighted and grateful, thank you.


From the Editor: Glad to be of help. They are lucky to have you to do this.

~ Julie

by: Anonymous

thank you for the information

flannel and washable faux microsuede
by: kj

Question...can I mix washable microsuede and flannel in same king size quilt? Microsuede is a polyester blend and flannel is cotton (I think).

From the Editor: As long as everything is washable, and you've accounted for bleeding and equalized the shrinkage through pre-washing, you should be good to go.

If there are special washing instructions for the micro-suede (I used it such a long time ago), if you gift the quilt, send along washing instructions to the recipient. Or better yet, put them on the label on the back.

~ Julie

Mixing different fabrics in a quilt
by: Anonymous

I just started this. I am making memory afghans from my mother-in-law's clothing. I had my sister-in-law wash and dry all the material, even dry clean only. This way everything is preshrunk and there should be little or no issue when the recipients receive them and occassionally need to wash them.

It makes fantastic quilts! So much texture. I freemotion quilted each individual block with however the material "spoke" to me. Never knew what that meant when people say that about inanimate objects until I started these quilts. I am a self taught freemotion quilter and I do not long arm. I have a Pfaff Creative Vision 5.5, Creative Sensation, and Creative Sensation Pro.

I have finished 2 and am working on the third. Just selected the material pieces I wish to use. If I could attach a photo of the 2 I finished, I would. I have polyester slack material, lightweight flannel nightwear, thin material, cottons, satinny, satin scarves, sweatshirt material, etc. I cut out all the seams. Removed lace and buttons and saved them all to use on the quilts. I fussy cut around pockets and might have enough pockets to put into the center of each afghan. I fussy cut around swearshirt pictures and beads. When I quilted, some parts of some squares I quilted around, ie a Santa on material from a holiday item.

So, use whatever you have. I have begun to think outside of the box now and am thinking to always use old clothing bought at garage sales, etc instead of shelling out large sums of money. The fabric is fabulous.

Hope this helps.

Julie replies... Your note makes me so happy. Thank you for sharing.

I love that you're using things that have meaning. When we make our quilts we put so much of ourselves into the creation. It's even more meaningful when the memories are layered as you're doing.

Fabulous decision choosing to wash everything first regardless of how it was labeled. That way you know how the fibers will behave and the one who receives the quilts needn't worry about washing.

You are awesome! Isn't fun when creativity takes over and just pulls you along for the ride. It's invigorating...and addicting—in a very good way.

I am so grateful you shared your story. Quilt on! :D

~ Julie Baird

this pattern
by: Csth

I have been looking for this pattern forever too! Did you hear from anyone on where it can be purchased?

From the Editor: No, I haven't found it 'for sale' on line, but you might try this relatively new Facebook group:

It's a bunch of quilters who are selling their surplus stuff. Someone may have the pattern and be willing to get rid of it.

Let me know if it works out!

~ Julie

Midnight Silhouette
by: Carien de Vries

I would like to find the pattern Midnight Silhouette.

Can you please give me a hint where to find it?

It is sold out at the Blackbird designs shop.

From the Editor: Carien, I haven't seen it anywhere for awhile, but I'll keep my eyes peeled.

Readers, if you know of a shop that still has it, I'd be grateful if you post that information here!

Thank you!

~ Julie

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