The History of Flannel Sheets

by Bethaney Wallace on 28th Oct 2014

Flannel sheets offer a warm and cozy transition into winter. They help hold in heat, and offer an overall more comfortable way to drift into sleep. Especially when winter is in full force and you’re suffering from some serious cold feet. In fact, flannel sheets are so loved, they take up a majority of beds come winter. Sales continue to be on the rise, and more sleepers than ever are taking advantage of new blends that eliminate itching or other skin irritations that can be associated with thicker materials.

But out of all the attention they get, how many of us stop to ask where flannel came from in the first place? Sure they offer a warm place to sleep, but who first invented these blends? And where did they get the idea for fuzzy sheets?

Flannel Throughout the Ages

Flannel might actually date back further than you’d think. In 16th century Wales, locals created a wool blend that incorporated warmth, but was less itchy than its previous counterparts. At the time, this was considered to be an extremely fine material, and was only purchased by the wealthy. They used these flannel fabrics to make winter clothing, a trend that soon made its way to France (throughout the 17th century). Germany later received flannel blends throughout the 19th century, while North America became home to similar materials in the 20th century. Once landing here, flannels were soon experimented with, being mixed with synthetic materials, cottons, and more.

Because its known for durability, flannel has been historically used for work clothes, even sports uniforms for baseball and football players. Though flannel as a uniform material soon was found impractical (from being too warm), as a work uniform, however, it stuck. Especially for laborers who work outside and amidst cold elements.

It wasn’t until the 1990s, however, that flannel became a popular form of clothing for everyday wear. With the “grunge” movement, flannel became introduced to everyday fashion, greatly increasing its sales and sightings among American youth, as well as older generations.

Warm Bedding with the Help of Flannel

After flannel had become a popular warm clothing option, citizens began incorporating them into their nighttime routines. Pajamas were lined with flannel in order to make them “waterproof,” which were especially used for children’s sleeping clothes. Blankets were also created from and with flannel blends incorporated directly within. Somewhere during this process, seamstresses began creating sheets that were made strictly from thicker flannel blends. After realizing they were able to hold in heat (at a time where indoors heat was not yet a thing, aside from fireplaces), they were sewn to fit mattresses. And while they were still used for blankets, the material was found to be more effective as conserving body heat in sheet form. (Generally from the dual layers that are able to “cling” together.)

To date, sheets remain as flannel’s most popular point of sale. Though clothing can still regularly be found (and again is making a fashion comeback in the United States), sheets remain as flannel’s number one seller.

And considering all they have to offer, it’s no wonder as to why. They help keep us warm, offer a cozy sleeping surface, can create a soft blend that’s able to increase warmth among itself. Not to mention the durability that comes from such a thick material – both of itself, and the protection that it provides for one’s mattress or mattress pad. Without an additional cost or expense in the process.

If you’re not already an owner of flannel sheets, it’s time to join the revolution – your winter sleeping habits will thank you.