How To Use Flannel In Quilting?

Remember those flannel storyboards teachers used when you were a little kid?

For some reason, felt characters stuck to a flannel board made the same old stories so much more interesting. You can use the same principle today in your quilting.

Instead of using various characters to tell a story, quilters use flannel boards to arrange pieces of their quilts.

Flannel boards of all sizes can come in handy for a quilter. I use mine to hold patches in the block I am working on.  Mine is about 18 inches and is totally portable.

Keeping it by my machine makes sense because that’s where I use it most. At 18 inches, it would travel easily enough, though.

If you want to layout more than just one block, you may want a flannel wall.

One inexpensive way to get a large piece of flannel is to buy a flannel-backed table cloth at a discount store. Pick one that is vinyl on top with flannel for the back.

Decide which wall will hold your large flannel board and decide on the size of your board. If the table cloth dimensions work with the size flannel board you need, you are ready to begin construction. If you find that the table cloth is larger than you want, simply trim it down using scissors.

Once you have the table cloth the size you want, use thumbtacks to attach it to your wall. The vinyl “top” of the table cloth faces the wall and the flannel backing should be facing you. You might want a partner to help with this project to make sure you stretch the table cloth tight enough against your wall.

Flannel sheets are great, too. Often they are larger than a table cloth, and you can easily wash them in your machine when they get dirty or full of tiny threads.

Some quilters like having a large flannel board so they can lay out rows of quilt blocks – sometimes even their entire quilts.

This helps you get an idea of how your quilt will look when you arrange the blocks. This can be especially helpful for a beginning quilter.

My flannel wall is permanent in my room and was very easy to make.

I took a white queen-size flannel sheet that was finished on the edges.

Then I folded it over so it would hang most of the way to the floor.

It has been washed a few times, but generally just hangs there – with various projects on it.

Don’t limit yourself to white, you can use any color you would like. However, you definitely want to use a solid color since any pattern in the flannel will distract from your quilt fabric and confuse your design.

I use a quilt hanger to hang it and often it has several projects hanging at the same time.

If you don’t have space for a flannel wall, lots of quilters layout their quilt blocks on a bed or on the floor.

If you don’t like wasting things, you can use the leftover table cloth scraps for other projects.

For instance, you can cut a large piece to use as a handy carrier.

Use a large piece to lay your quilt blocks and patches on when you are not working on them.

Roll up the table cloth piece and put a rubber band around it to hold everything securely until you get to work on your project again.

Simply unroll it the next time you’re ready to quilt. The added benefit is that none of your fabrics are folded. They are rolled and therefore develop no creases to worry about pressing.

You can also use your leftover table cloth pieces to create one of those fun flannel boards for a child or grandchild. Spend a little non-quilting time with them and help them make felt characters they can use to tell their own stories.

Or, create felt “paper” dolls that children can use to play dress-up with their characters. You can encourage quilting by giving the kids various shapes that they can arrange to make their own “quilt blocks.”

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