In life, some things just make sense, like wearing a warm flannel in the winter. There are also things in life that are confusing. You probably didn’t think flannel fabric and plaid were different things, but undoubtedly, they are. Flannel and plaid just go together, but they are not mutually exclusive. Both are esteemed fall favorites and are often used interchangeably. There is, however, a distinction between the two terms. Below are some details to help clear up the confusion.
Flannel achieved popularity in the working class because railroad workers wore long flannel underwear and overalls. Flannel’s ability to retain heat while being comfortable makes it a go-to fabric. In the U.S, flannel fabric was also used to keep the soldiers in the Civil War warm and dry.
Flannel And Its Uses
Flannel is a woven fabric that’s typically made of wool or cotton. Flannel is a napped fabric which means that it has a slightly raised texture. The tricky part is that most flannels DO come in a plaid print. While they are often found together, this does not make them the same. A plaid flannel will keep you warm while enjoying a bonfire, while a plaid dress shirt will help you look good on your Sunday best or score the job in your interview. Check the fabric label if you’re still not sure that you’re buying a flannel shirt or fabric. If it’s made of wool or cotton with a raised texture, then you’re probably dealing with flannel. It’s also important to note that not all flannel is printed with a plaid pattern. Flannels come in solid selections, too.
Plaid And Its Uses
Plaid is a pattern formed by varying sizes and colors of horizontal and vertical bands intersecting at a right angle inspired by Scottish “tartan” plaids. It is one of the most famous and recognizable prints known to man and is a popular print used by Burberry in clothing linings, trench coats, hats, scarves, and more. Plaid is found on flannels and other fabrics like seersucker and shirting. It can also be found on sheer fabrics.
Tartan and plaids are also closely related but not the same. Tartan patterns are historically known for being used in woolen, Scottish kilts. The most distinguishable difference between the two is that tartan patterns are made of three or more colors in addition to the base color.
Something to Note
Now that flannel and plaid confusion are out of the way, you should keep in mind that when sewing with any kind of print, whether it’s a plaid or plaid flannel, the pieces need to be cut properly. Sew it in a way that lines up the print consistently, or the look of the garment will be compromised, and it will not look as high-end as it would if the seams and patterns matched up correctly.
Honestly, it’s easy to use the terms interchangeably. I know I’ve been guilty of this in the past. Have you fallen victim to the flannel and plaid confusion, and did this post help you distinguish the differences between the two?