What Is Chamois? 9 Differences Between Flannel and Chamois

Finding the difference between fabrics helps you find the perfect material for your special sewing project. Since not all fabrics are made the same, their differences make one fabric better for one event or season over another. That way you stay fashionable as well as good looking.

What Is chamois? Chamois is a very soft cloth or leather material that feels good next to your skin.

To learn more about what chamois is and the differences between it and flannel just keep reading our article. It has those differences and other information that will help you use the material in the best way possible.

Is Chamois Flannel?


Some varieties of these two fabrics are the same. If they are made out of cotton, then the difference between them will lie in their thickness, their softness, and their processing. Sometimes you will find shirts or clothes made out of flannel but are labeled and sold as chamois.

Sometimes, chamois is a leather and is made from the chamois goat-antelope species. Other times it is made from cotton and is a plain-woven material that is napped, sheared, and dyed to resemble chamois leather.

Flannel can be made from wool, cotton, or synthetic materials. Originally, flannel was made from carded wool or worsted yarn. But now it is made from a variety of those fiber options mentioned first.

In a roundabout way yes chamois can be considered flannel and no it is not flannel. It will depend on how the flannel and the chamois materials are made.

What is Chamois Cloth?

Chamois cloth, when made from cotton, is a plain weave that is manufactured to look like and act like chamois leather. The chamois leather is a unique product coming from an animal found exclusively in Europe until some of the species were transferred to New Zealand.

The leather is used by French glove makers and when they tanned the material in local cod oil the leather developed a very great absorbency factor. The cloth is to imitate that feature as well as the wonderful softness that leather has.

It is thicker, softer, and more durable than flannelette and is often used as a cloth to wash and wax cars. It is also used in dusters, as interlining and storage boxes to prevent scratching of skin and items that need to preserve their good looks.

Its softness tends to leave the finish on cars intact and doesn't add any new scratches or peel the paint. This softness is recreated through using cotton fibers as it has a great absorbency rate as well.

The cost of chamois may be a little bit more expensive than regular cleaning clothes but that is due to the nature of the material and the processing it has to go through.

What is Chamois Cloth Made Of?


It can be made from two materials. The first material is the original source of the leather and that is the European goat-antelope, and yes that is the way the species is best described.

Exactly when the hide of this animal was turned into a soft fabric is unknown and lost to history. the best guess is that somewhere around 1709 that the term chamois was added to the fabric.

This type of material was used for the gloves of the many coachmen who tended the royal coaches during those romantic royal periods of history. Those coachmen also used this leather to polish those royal coaches and the tradition is carried on by modern chauffeurs.

The other material used to make chamois is cotton. The processing ends up as a plain weave but to get it to look and act like the chamois leather it is put through a long process. This is done to keep the material very soft and very absorbent.

When made from the natural material, chamois has some unique tasks that it performs outside of cleaning cars or protecting items from scratches.

Difference Between Flannel and Chamois

While chamois can be made out of flannel, some differences make them unique fabrics to use in a variety of sewing projects:

Category Chamois Flannel
origin cotton plant, European goat-antelope wool, cotton plant, synthetic fibers
years of use since before 1709 since before 1600
absorbency very absorbent has absorbing qualities
care when made out of cotton easy to care for usually very easy to care for
characteristics thicker and softer than flannel not as soft or as thick as chamois
uses clothing,and as a gas filter, cleaning vehicles, charcoal artwork etc. clothing, bedding, towels, etc.
finish soft, smooth like leather fuzzy but soft and comfortable
weight comes in a variety of weights and thicknesses usually a medium weight cotton
cost more expensive than flannel fairly affordable

Chamois Material Pros and Cons

Every fabric has its good and bad points. Chamois is no different and its good points tend to overshadow any bad points it may have. Here are some of those points to help you understand the nature of this fabric and how to use it.


  • Very soft
  • Very absorbent
  • Best for large surfaces
  • Usually, only one is needed to dry and buff a car
  • Has a variety of uses
  • Not that hard to obtain
  • Made from cotton and other natural materials
  • No real harmful chemicals involved in its construction
  • Very durable
  • Excellent cleaning cloth


  • Can be costly
  • May dry hard on you
  • Needs water to work at its best level
  • Limited number of uses
  • Hard to store properly
  • Limited in designs when made into shirts
  • Often made from flannel
  • Confused with flannel
  • Will shrink on you

Make sure to read the care label before you wash your chamois fabric. It may have the same characteristics as cotton and when made from leather, you should not wash it like normal fabrics.

What is a Chamois Shirt?


That is a good question for when one reads the labels they may get two different pieces of information. For example, the label may read that the shirt is made from Portuguese cotton, usually, flannel shirts say this, and the other shirt, chamois, will say made from Portuguese flannel.

Chamois shirts are usually thicker, softer, and warmer than flannel ones and their price reflects that difference. They also should be more durable as they are made from thicker fabrics than flannel usually is.

Of course, that may change depending on how both types of shirts were made and how their fibers were manufactured. Chamois shirts are very comfortable to wear and if you want something soft next to your skin, this is the better fabric.

Also, chamois shirts are seen as a higher-end product than flannel shirts are. You are paying for that difference as well. If the chamois shirt is made from leather, it should be extremely absorbent as well as tough, durable, and good looking.

Chamois vs Flannel Shirt

We just mentioned some of the differences in the previous section. Chamois shirts are going to be thicker than flannel and usually softer than that material as well. It is the way chamois is made and its source materials that make it so soft.

However, flannel is a good work shirt and can handle rougher treatment than chamois shirts.l Plus, the flannel is available in more colors and designs which gives you a better range of selection.

If washed incorrectly, both shirts may shrink on you and there may even be some wrinkles. Expect to do some ironing or steaming to get those shirts looking their best. On top of that chamois is a better shirt to wear when you want to make a nice fashion statement.

As we said earlier, it is the higher end of the 2 shirts and you will find chamois shirts more often in those higher-end fashion outlets while flannel may be found in your department store racks.

At the end, which shirt you wear boils down to how much you want to pay for it and what purpose you have in mind.

Chamois Flannel Sheets


Flannel sheets are given the basic treatment and are usually made from cotton but are also made from synthetic fibers and wool. Then the flannel material set aside to be made into sheets is brushed to give it that fuzzy, fluffy feel people like to snuggle under when the temperatures cool down.

That is the basic flannel sheet. When you want to upgrade your sleep experience, you go with chamois flannel sheets. Not only will you stay warm and comfortable you get untold softness when you take that step.

The processing makes the difference plus these sheets are very durable as well as absorbent. If you want high-quality sheets on your bed, then you should buy a set of these. When made from Portuguese weaving techniques, Italian style stitching, and double-brushed cotton, you can’t beat this type of sheet.

The only problem is that you will pay a large amount for this upgrade to high quality. Sometimes double or more than you would if you bought regular flannel sheets of good quality.

If you want the best and can’t afford Egyptian cotton sheets, then this is the route to go.

Where to Buy Chamois Flannel Fabric


Let’s begin this journey in your local area. We like to mention those local fabric stores owned by individuals as they have a lot of competition but they usually give you great service. They may not be the cheapest option but they are people like you struggling to make ends meet.

Next, you can try your mall department stores or fashion outlets. They should have some selection for you to look at. Or you can try your national chain brands like Hobby Lobby, Joanns & Michael’s. They deal in lots of fabrics so you should get a nice selection from those stores.

All of these options, including the small independent stores, can order in the material if they are out of stock and want to keep your business. After you have exhausted those places, you should turn to the internet if you are on a tight budget.

The prices will be cheaper and places like Amazon, Hancock’s, Etsy, Field’s Fabrics, and similar stores should have a nice supply of chamois fabric and at low prices. Where you shop is up to you and pick the one that fits your lifestyle the best.

Some Facts About Chamois

  • 1. The leather chamois is made from the chamois goat-antelope which is a subspecies of the Bovidae family.
  • 2. This animal is found in the Pyrenees and other mountains of Europe including Turkey.
  • 3. the cloth made from either leather or cotton is usually pronounced ‘shammy’, ‘chammy’, and if you want more than one you pronounce the ‘s’ in chamois.
  • 4. The animals are not that large ranging between 28 and 30 inches high and 42 to 54 inches in length.
  • 5. The animal was presented as a gift to New Zealand in 1905 and because of their impact on the natural flora, hunting them is unrestricted.
  • 6. The chamois leather cloth is often not made from the Chamois animal. It is also made from deer, sheep, and goat hide.

Some Final Words

When you want to keep your car looking like it just came off the showroom, then you should reach for a chamois leather or cotton cloth. The same holds true when you want a high quality sleep experience.

Chamois sheets are the top of the flannel chain when it comes to softness, comfort, and luxury. It is at the top of the price chain as well.

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