What Is the Difference Between Flannel and Flannelette

You need a scorecard to keep all the fabrics straight. Even with flannel, there seem to be multiple styles of material making hard to know which is which. Each variety of flannel does have its specific purpose so you need to keep track of a lot of information.

What is the difference between flannel and flannelette? Flannelette is made from flannel yarns and is usually the lower quality of the two. Plus, it is soft, fuzzy and a good fabric to be used for pajamas, diapers, sheets and more. Flannel is far more expensive and sometimes called quilter’s flannel.

To learn all about the difference between flannel and flannelette just continue to read our article. It has the information you want so you know how to use these two fabrics to their fullest potential.

What is Flannelette?


To start and to avoid any technical definitions flannelette is a soft, woven fabric created to imitate flannel. It is created by raising and brushing the fibers in the weft. It is used most often for those clothing items that require softness like sleepwear, pillows, and bedding.

Some of the materials used to create flannelette are other flannel yarns. The cost of this material is on the low end of the fabric scale ranging anywhere between $2 and $5 a yard unless prices have risen over the years.

One of the drawbacks of using flannelette in quilts and other projects is that it is not as strong as regular flannel. It is a temporary material that will long as about its intended purpose give or take a year or two.

What is Flannelette Made Of?


The construction material for flannelette is flanneled yarns. It is a woven product that does not transfer the strength of flannel to its product. That lack of strength doesn't mean it is not a good fabric to have in blankets.

When those hot sweaty summer nights hit a good flannelette blanket is lightweight enough to help you overcome the heat without using any of your expected nighttime comforts.

Sometimes flannelette is made from cotton which helps it to be softer than other fabrics. Given its inexpensive cost, it still has a very nice look and almost luxurious feel to the fabric.

Also, flannelette may be called brushed cotton and it has a nice smooth finish to it. The reason for that is that all the excess fibers and lint are removed during the manufacturing process.

The final thing you should know about flannelette’s construction material is that there will be times it is made from a cotton-polyester blend. To clean flannelette properly you should read the label to make sure you know which fibers were used in its creation.

Are Flannel and Flannelette the Same Thing?


Not really. The latter product was created to imitate flannel but is made from much lighter materials. Those lighter materials make the flannelette products more useful and can be used in all seasons whereas flannel just is too thick and warm to be used in some parts of spring and all of the summer.

Another gaping difference between the two materials is that flannel is much more expensive than flannelette. On the conservative side of pricing, flannelette may cost up to $7 a yard while flannel may end up costing you between $6 to $15 a yard depending on where you buy it.

Those are not Amazon prices but that marketplace is within the ballpark figures listed above for flannel material. Amazon doe snot list a separate price for flannelette according to our searches.

Another difference is that flannel is printed on better cotton wovens and usually have more detailed designs What may add to the confusion is that the terms flannel and flannelette are often used interchangeably.

That means that when buying flannel fabric, you may be getting flannelette and vice versa.

What is The Difference Between Flannel and Flannelette?


One of the big differences between the two fabrics is that flannel is a lot tougher than the latter. It is a great material to use for those flannel shirts that have to be worn by men doing those tough outdoor jobs.

Flannel is also good for those quilts that you want to become a family heirloom. Those quilts can handle frequent washing and use. Unfortunately, flannelette quilts do not last as long and are basically good for short term temporary purposes.

Then flannel is used for the more expensive sleepwear that also lasts you for years. Flannelette may be softer and fuzzier than flannel and is good for those hot temperatures that come in the summer and spring seasons.

In the case of bed sheets, flannel sheets are usually napped on both sides, while flannelette ones are only napped on one. Finally, the flannelette sheets are not tightly woven and they may or may not have a thread count listed on the packaging.

If the flannelette sheets have between 200 and 400 thread count they are considered to be good flannelette sheets.

Diaper Flannel vs Regular Flannel


Because of the softness of flannelette, it is a very good material to use to make diapers. Its smooth and soft finish and without excess fibers sticking out make flannelette an ideal fabric to place against your baby’s bottom.

One difference between the two options is that diaper flannel is sold in narrower sizes than regular flannel. Usually, the width is measured at 36 inches compared to 40 to 42 inches for regular flannel.

There is a tighter weave for diaper flannel as that helps the absorbing rate. Then like regular flannel but not like flannelette, diaper flannel is napped on both sides. Also, diaper flannel should not pill up as much or as quickly as inferior flannel.

Also, diaper flannel does not have a lot of cute prints or designs added to its features. It is usually only available in the color white. The price for the lesser amount of fabric makes diaper flannel a lot more expensive to buy.

If you just need a diaper cover then you may be able to get away with buying regular flannel when it is on sale and save yourself a lot of money.

Brushed Cotton Fabric vs Flannel


As we said earlier, flannelette and brushed cotton are basically the same fabric. The two terms can be used to describe each other and you should find little difference between the two.

Both have a soft smooth finish, both have the excess fibers and lint removed and the napped surfaces of both are the same. Both can also be made of the same fibers as cotton and a polyester blend.

Then both are lightweight making them good to use throughout all four seasons although you may need extra coverage when the nights turn cold. There is at least one difference between the two.

Brushed cotton retains heat and it is very easy to sew with. Your experience with either fabric may not be the same. An important difference is that brushed cotton is more durable than flannelette.

The brushed cotton will pill as well as shrink on you.

The Pros and Cons of Flannel

You hear about the good aspects of flannelette all the time. It is a fabric that is lightweight, made of woven yarns, it is soft, comfortable and sometimes fuzzy. Its main drawback is that it is not made for longevity.

Here are some pros and cons for flannel:


  • It is a fabric that is easy to care for
  • It is a good fabric for cold nights as it is very warm
  • ​It can be soft but may not be as soft as flannelette
  • ​Like a lot of fabrics, flannel is very comfortable to have next to your body
  • ​It is a very durable fabric especially when you get the quilting version of the fabric
  • Flannel comes with a breathable weave


  • Flannel will shrink on you if you are not careful
  • It does pill so if you do not like dealing with pills you may want to find another fabric to work with
  • It may or may not wear well. That would depend on the quality of the fabric when you buy it

Benefits of using flannel sheets

  • 1. it helps your quality of sleep improve
  • 2. it helps you be more refreshed when you wake up
  • 3. You may not dehydrate throughout the night as much as other sheets do
  • 4. Its warmth factor helps arthritis sufferers get pain relief

Some Final Words

The battle between flannel or flannelette fabrics may never be won. The reason for this that both fabrics have specific purposes and they do not always come into a head to head competition.

While flannel is better for tougher aspects of life, flannelette brings the softness and comfort you are looking for when you want a good night’s sleep. The purpose you have in mind will determine which fabric you will choose to work with on your different sewing projects.

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