Where are the best flannel sheets?
December 21, 2007 9:36 AM   Subscribe

Help me attain flannel sheet nirvana.

Mr OWG adores flannel sheets. I'm not so fond of them but that's mainly because all the flannel sheets I've ever encountered seem to be cheap and get all pilled. I'm a bit of a sheet snob, preferring high thread count, all-cotton sateen. I'm willing to use flannel in the winter and to that end I'd love to find really really super nice luxurious flannel. Soft, pillowy , snuggly flannel. Does it even exist? Why are most flannel sheets so crappy? Recommendations for flannel sheets, online or not would be appreciated. Hopefully under $100 for a full-size set but I'm willing to go higher.
posted by otherwordlyglow to Home & Garden (26 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Does it have to be flannel? These modal sheets from Bed, Bath, & Beyond are wonderful. They're warm, cozy, and a little fuzzy like flannel but don't pill and are quite easy to care for.
posted by odi.et.amo at 9:50 AM on December 21, 2007

I have had no success finding good flannel sheets yet, so I'll be watching the thread with interest, but I would strongly suggest skipping the flannel nightgown or PJs if your sheets are also going to be flannel. There's a good reason why your kindergarten teacher used flannel cutouts on a flannelboard for storytime. It's tough to sleep when you get stuck to the sheets all akimbo.
posted by maudlin at 9:53 AM on December 21, 2007

Mrs. Haddock and I enjoy LL Bean's "Warm Feelings Flannel Sheets," but we've only had them starting this winter, so I can't vouch for their pilling. Very cozy. The sheets cost about $100 for a queen fitted sheet, flat sheet and two-pillowcase set. In the world of fine linens, that's not particularly dear--but for my tastes, if I were paying much more, I'd want Leon Longwood Bean to come tuck me in himself.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:55 AM on December 21, 2007

Response by poster: Does it have to be flannel?
I guess not. The requirement is that the sheets not feel cold when you get into them.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:12 AM on December 21, 2007

I still have warm feelings (heh) about the LL Bean Flannel sheets I used to have, so I second Admiral Haddock.
posted by shothotbot at 10:37 AM on December 21, 2007

My sense is that there really isn't a "good" flannel and it's all pretty much the same weave. I suppose they could make it out of the same stuff they make flannel shirts out of, but that would seem to be too warm. Unfortunately and ultimately, I've come to view them as somewhat disposable, buying a new set every two or three years. I've never seen anything like a 500 thread count flannel, that's for sure.
posted by rhizome at 10:40 AM on December 21, 2007

If the requirement is that the sheets not feel cold when you get in, flannel won't really help, as even they get cold. How about an electric blanket combined with every-day flannel sheets? You can get one for ~$50, and if you turn it on when you start getting ready for bed, the bed will be nice and toasty when you get in.
posted by fengshui at 10:41 AM on December 21, 2007

I have flannel sheets from Garnet Hill (I think they must be the paintbrush ones, because they are a gorgeous bright red), that I've had for almost six years, and that are among the most snuggly and wonderful things in the world.
posted by dizziest at 10:43 AM on December 21, 2007

Response by poster: If the requirement is that the sheets not feel cold when you get in, flannel won't really help, as even they get cold.

Well the ones that we have seem much less cold to the bare flesh. But they are definitely pilled and I find that to be very disagreeable. The other set we have must be very old since they don't seem to have any snuggliness to them at all, just the rough-weave base and they give me rug burns. Electric blankets are not a potential part of the equation.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:47 AM on December 21, 2007

I have some LLBean flannel sheets that are quite nice - heavy 100% cotton flannel. They're doing free shipping right now, too.
posted by theora55 at 10:52 AM on December 21, 2007

Get waffled ones. They maintain the flannel freshness but don't have that frosty chill.

I bought some by accident once and now I but them on purpose and exclusively.

Extra bonus: they wick sweat away, so in the very hot summer, they're also great.
posted by rokusan at 10:56 AM on December 21, 2007

Second odi.et.amo, I am deeply committed to the Pure Beech modal sheet collection from Bed Bath & Beyond. They have the warmth and softness of flannel sheets, but they look better and are of much higher quality. They're really affordable, too.
posted by arianell at 11:00 AM on December 21, 2007

Thirding the Pure Beech modal from B,B&B, which I also recommended here. No one who has 'em doesn't seem to love them, as you can see from this and other threads. I'm on my second sheet set of this kind (got a new color when I got a better duvet cover), and they feel like I'm being hugged by a teddy bear all night long.

One caveat; they are thin, more like a softer tee-shirt type fabric, and not exactly flannel like, so they can "get cold" if left in a cold room.... just like most every other sheet out there. If you're looking for a true flannel, end-of-story, these aren't for you... but they're crazy-inexpensive, so if you and Mr. OWG want to take a chance, the worst case is you'll have a fantastic set of guest room or spare sheets. :)
posted by hincandenza at 11:06 AM on December 21, 2007

The thinner, softer T-shirt fabric is "jersey" and indeed is kind of like a thinner flannel, though it's possible it's a better weave. I've used jersey as a "summer flannel" as it were, and they're kind of interchangeable depending on your nerdiness.

One thing that could help in this whole equation is to deal with the pilling and the aging of the flannel sheets you do get. One thing that I've found that extends the life a lot is to dry them at a low temperature. I rarely do this because I use a laundromat, but it should help keep them in tip-top shape if you dry them on "low" for, oh, however long it takes (an hour? I dunno).
posted by rhizome at 11:15 AM on December 21, 2007

Our least pilling ones to date are from Ralph Lauren... but even they have pilled a bit over the years. Wash them with fabric softener and dry on low heat to keep them soft.
posted by MiffyCLB at 11:37 AM on December 21, 2007

I was also going to suggest jersey sheets (as rhizome did), since they also feel warm when you get into bed. But most of the ones I've bought have been pretty poor quality - they easily get holes in them, get asymmetrical, etc. Hopefully someone else will have a good brand recommendation.
posted by bassjump at 12:53 PM on December 21, 2007

Best answer: Flannel sheets aren't categorized by thread count, because you don't want a tightly woven flannel sheet (ie: 500 thread count is 500 threads per inch - a very tight weave that creates a very tightly woven, very smooth sheet), because a tightly woven sheet wouldn't have the fuzzy nap that makes flannel flannel. What you want to look at for quality in flannel sheets is fabric weight expressed in either ounces or grams per square yard. 5 - 6 ounces per square yard is pretty typical for a high quality flannel sheet. I've seen as high as an 8 ounce in the market, but they're crazy expensive. You also want to check country of origin: German and Portuguese sheets will offer the highest quality in flannels.

To make a flannel sheet, you weave a sheet and then brush the fabric - sometimes multiple times. The process of brushing the fabric naturaly breaks the fibers, creating the fuzzy flannel feeling, but also creating loose fibers in the fabric that (as they get rubbed this direction and that) also create "pills". A great way to avoid pilling in any flannel sheet is to wash the sheets two or three times before you use them. The lint screen in your dryer will be full of fiber - the loose fibers left over from the brushing process - but they will be out of the sheet, so at least they won't be pilling up on your bed.

FYI: "Jersey" and "Flannel" are two totally different things. Jersey is a knit (created by looping threads together). All jersey will be stretchy, to a greater or lesser degree. Flannel is a woven fabric (straight threads going over and under, up and across), and will not stretch.
posted by anastasiav at 1:01 PM on December 21, 2007 [6 favorites]

I will always say jersey above flannel. they feel better, smoother. they warm you up with out over heating and they can be used in the summer as well.
posted by nadawi at 1:08 PM on December 21, 2007

I have had a set of Lands End flannel sheets for several years now. The fitted sheet is starting to get a little threadbare, but they never pilled.
posted by oats at 3:20 PM on December 21, 2007

I'd say just go with the flannel and spend 5 or 10 bucks on a fabric shaver to get rid of the pills.

posted by hamhed at 7:41 PM on December 21, 2007

We impulse bought a set of holiday flannel sheets at Target because they were $19.99 for king size. They are brown with cute little snowmen all over them. They are the #1 greatest sheets we have ever had. Every night it's like a new discovery.

I'd bet you can get them for $19.99 or even cheaper now that Christmas is so close.
posted by AgentRocket at 8:03 PM on December 21, 2007

As a counter to the recommendations for modal sheets, I like 'em, but my husband loathes them and won't have them on the bed. I think he finds the texture somehow slimy. So go touch the stuff before you buy.
posted by Scram at 10:26 PM on December 21, 2007

Seconding anastaslav. Flannel sheets vary in quality, as measured by ounces. The ones for $19.95 a set probably won't even tell your the ounces (because they're ashamed) but LL Bean and Lands' End sell excellent, heavy flannel and they WILL tell you the ounces. (And, in my experience, they will not pill.) Unlike the cheapies, heavy flannel sheets will last through many trips throug the washer and dryer, but eventually (years) the soft, cozy feel will disappear and you'll need to buy a new set. Go ahead, spend $100 on a set and snuggle in.
posted by exphysicist345 at 8:58 AM on December 22, 2007

Garnet Hill.
posted by wfc123 at 3:07 PM on December 22, 2007

You might try "velvet" flannel. I have some from Pinzon via Amazon, made in Portugal, which were very affordable, are superbly comfy and don't noticeably pill at all.
posted by vers at 7:29 AM on December 30, 2007

N-thing the LL Bean recommendation - our Bean flannel sheets are at least 8 years old and still in good condition (pilling? what's that?).
posted by deliriouscool at 7:34 AM on January 16, 2008

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