Flannel vs Fleece: Understanding the Difference for Cozy Living

Flannel vs Fleece

Have you ever found yourself in a department store, weighing the pros and cons of flannel vs fleece? We’ve all been there. Standing in the cozy home textiles section or the winter wear aisle, we’re left wondering which material is truly the best for our needs. Is fleece or flannel warmer? Which is softer, fleece or flannel? What exactly is the difference between fleece and flannel anyway? In this article, I’ll take a deep dive into the world of warm fabrics, comparing flannel vs fleece in terms of comfort, warmth, softness, care, and sustainability.

If you’re planning your winter wardrobe or trying to find the best bed sheets for a comfy night’s sleep, understanding the difference between fleece and flannel is key. So, buckle up! This exploration into the world of warm materials promises to be enlightening and helpful in your next shopping quest. You’ll soon be a pro when it comes to distinguishing between flannel and fleece, equipped with all the information you need to make the best choice for you.

And by the way, don’t hesitate to share your own experiences and preferences in the comments. Do you lean more towards the soft and lightweight appeal of flannel, or does the thick, warm, and fuzzy nature of fleece win you over? We’re here to discuss, learn, and share together. Let’s delve into the flannel vs fleece debate!

What is Flannel?

Flannel is a soft woven fabric that originated in Wales in the 17th century. Traditionally made from wool, modern flannels are often composed of cotton, synthetic fiber, or a blend. Recognized by its fuzzy surface, flannel undergoes a process called ‘napping’ where one or both sides of the fabric are brushed to create that characteristic softness we all love. This soft texture, combined with a medium-weight, gives flannel its reputation for cozy warmth, making it a popular choice for clothing, bedding, and outerwear.

What is Fleece?

Fleece, on the other hand, is a synthetic fabric created from polyester fibers. Introduced in the 1980s by the company Malden Mills (now Polartec), fleece was designed to mimic the warmth of wool while offering a lighter, more breathable, and more durable alternative. The process of creating fleece involves knitting polyester yarns into a fabric and then brushing the material to increase its volume. The result is a high-performance fabric that’s exceptionally warm, lightweight, and breathable, making it a favorite for activewear, jackets, blankets, and more.

So, there you have it – the essential rundown of what flannel and fleece are. But when it comes to the flannel vs fleece debate, which material reigns supreme? Let’s dive deeper into the key differences and see how they stack up in terms of warmth, comfort, durability, and sustainability.

Difference Between Fleece and Flannel


The primary difference between fleece and flannel lies in their material. Flannel is a woven fabric typically made from wool, cotton, or a blend of different materials. On the other hand, fleece is a knit fabric crafted from polyester fibers, giving it a completely different feel and performance compared to flannel.


Flannel is known for its soft, brushed texture. It’s fuzzy and comforting, making it ideal for cozy pajamas or warm sheets on a winter’s night. Fleece, however, has a plush, velvety feel that’s ultra-soft to the touch. It’s fluffy and thick, yet lightweight.

Which is Softer, Fleece or Flannel?

The question of which is softer, fleece or flannel, is subjective and depends on personal preference. While both fabrics are designed to be soft and comfortable, fleece generally has a plushier feel, thanks to its thick, lofty structure. However, some might argue that the brushed surface of flannel provides a different kind of softness that is equally pleasant.


Both fleece and flannel are known for their warmth, but they offer this in different ways. Flannel, being a woven fabric, provides a cozy, insulating warmth that’s perfect for colder temperatures. Fleece, due to its knitted construction and the nature of polyester fibers, tends to be more breathable while still providing substantial warmth.

Fleece or Flannel Warmer?

If we are to ask: is fleece or flannel warmer? The answer would largely depend on the specific product’s quality and thickness. However, in general, fleece tends to hold in heat more effectively due to its dense, thick nature. It’s designed to mimic the insulating properties of wool, making it an excellent choice for outdoor wear.


Both flannel and fleece are fairly durable, but there are some differences. Flannel can endure a lot of wear and washing, often becoming softer with time. Fleece, while also durable, can pill over time and may lose some of its softness with repeated washing.


When it comes to cost, there’s a wide range in both categories. The price of flannel and fleece items can vary greatly depending on factors such as brand, quality, and the complexity of the item. Generally, high-quality fleece tends to be more expensive due to its technical features and performance capabilities.

Here’s a comparison table summarizing these key points:

Flannel Fleece
Material Woven (Wool, Cotton, Synthetics) Knit (Polyester)
Texture Soft, brushed surface Plush, velvety feel
Softness Generally soft, different kind of softness Typically plushier and softer
Warmth Cozy, insulating warmth High warmth retention, more breathable
Durability High durability, softens with time Durable but may pill with time
Cost Varies widely Generally pricier for high-quality pieces

Now that we’ve compared the properties of flannel vs fleece, let’s explore their specific uses, like bedding and clothing, to see which fabric outperforms the other.

Best Flannel Fabric

The Cotton Flannel Fabric, available in 10+ vibrant colors, has received a wealth of positive reviews for its warm, soft, and comfortable feel. Measuring 45" in width, it's ideal for an array of uses, from creating cozy baby clothes and crafting to designing snug pajamas and shirts. Users commend the fabric's high quality and soft texture, finding it particularly suitable for cold winter months. Several reviewers have successfully used the fabric for backing baby quilts, adding to the charm and comfort of their creations.

However, it's important to note that some customers have noticed variations in the fabric quality over time, with recent purchases reportedly feeling less thick and soft than previous ones. Some have also observed that the fabric tends to unravel at the edges where cut, necessitating a seam to prevent further fraying. A few users recommend washing the fabric before incorporating it into projects, as it may shrink upon first wash.

  • Warm
  • Soft
  • Versatile
  • Inconsistent Quality
  • May Unravel
  • Can Shrink

Best Fleece Fabric

The Barcelonetta Fleece Fabric is a versatile and cozy material that comes in separate 2-yard pieces. With dimensions of 72 inches in length and 60 inches in width, it provides ample fabric for a variety of crafting projects. This multi-purpose fabric can be transformed into cozy items such as throws, blankets, ponchos, pillow covers, pajama pants, booties, and even eye masks.

One of the standout features of this fleece fabric is its suitability for infants. It is considered safe for use with babies, as it is incredibly soft and gentle against their delicate skin. Many customers have utilized this fabric to create adorable baby clothing, including little coats, as well as infant sleeping bags.

  • Soft and cozy
  • Versatile for various crafting projects
  • Suitable for infants
  • Generous dimensions of 72" x 60"
  • Comes in separate 2-yard pieces
  • Inconsistent measurements reported by some customers
  • May require cold wash before use
  • Limited color options mentioned
  • Slight shedding experienced by a few users

Fleece and Flannel in Everyday Life

Clothing: Flannel vs Fleece

When it comes to clothing, the flannel vs fleece debate becomes quite intriguing. Flannel shirts are a popular choice for casual wear, providing a perfect balance of comfort and warmth. They’re versatile and can be layered with other clothing items to accommodate varying temperatures.

Fleece, due to its higher warmth-to-weight ratio, is a common choice for outdoor clothing. It is used in jackets, hoodies, and pullovers designed for hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities. Despite its warmth, fleece is breathable and dries quickly, making it perfect for sweat-inducing activities.

Bedding: Microfleece vs Flannel

In bedding, the choice between microfleece vs flannel can significantly impact your sleep comfort. Microfleece bedding is warm, breathable, and lightweight. Its plush texture makes it a favorite for those seeking maximum softness.

Flannel sheets, on the other hand, provide a comforting, soft feel and are known for their breathability and warmth. They can hold heat well, making them an excellent choice for those cold winter nights.

Fleece vs Flannel Sheets

If you’re weighing between fleece vs flannel sheets, consider the following:

  • Warmth: Fleece sheets are likely to keep you warmer due to their excellent insulation properties. However, flannel sheets also provide substantial warmth and might feel less suffocating to some.
  • Breathability: Both materials allow for good breathability. Flannel, being a natural fiber, might have a slight edge in terms of moisture-wicking capabilities.
  • Feel: If you prefer plush, velvety textures, fleece sheets might be for you. But if you’re more into a brushed, cozy feel, flannel sheets would be a better choice.

Home Decor: Fleece and Flannel Use Cases

When you think of home decor, flannel and fleece might not be the first materials that come to mind. However, these soft and warm fabrics have found their niche in creating cozy and comfortable environments.

Flannel in Home Decor

Flannel’s versatility extends far beyond clothing and bedding. Its soft texture and insulating properties make it an ideal material for creating cozy atmospheres.

    1. Throws and Blankets: Flannel throws and blankets are perfect for those chilly evenings when all you want to do is curl up on the sofa with a good book or movie. They’re warm, cozy, and come in a wide variety of colors and patterns that can match your living room decor.
    2. Window Treatments: Flannel can also be used in window treatments. Heavier flannel curtains can help insulate your home during colder months, keeping the warmth in and the cold out.
    3. Pillows and Cushions: Flannel pillow covers are not only soft and comfortable but also add a touch of coziness to your home decor. They are ideal for creating a warm, welcoming environment during the colder months.

Fleece in Home Decor

Fleece is a synthetic material known for its warmth and softness. Its durability and resistance to moisture make it a great choice for a variety of home decor items.

  1. Blankets and Throws: Fleece blankets and throws are incredibly warm and comfortable. Their plush texture makes them an excellent choice for snuggling on a cold night. Plus, fleece comes in many colors and patterns, allowing you to add a vibrant touch to your living room or bedroom.
  2. Pet Beds: Due to its durability and softness, fleece is a popular choice for pet beds. It provides a warm, cozy spot for your furry friends, and it’s also easy to clean, which is always a bonus.
  3. Slipcovers: Fleece can also be used to make slipcovers for chairs and sofas. Not only does it add a soft, plush layer to your furniture, but it’s also machine washable, making it easy to keep clean.
  4. Crafting: Fleece is popular in crafting circles. It’s easy to work with and doesn’t fray, making it great for no-sew projects. You can create everything from plush toys to decorative wreaths with fleece.


Despite our comprehensive exploration of fleece and flannel throughout this article, we understand that you may still have a few lingering questions. To ensure that no stone is left unturned in your quest to understand these two materials, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions that we’ve yet to address.

Can fleece or flannel materials cause skin irritation?

While both fleece and flannel are generally comfortable and soft to the touch, some individuals may have a sensitivity or allergy to certain fabrics. Synthetic fleece, for instance, may cause irritation in people who are sensitive to man-made fibers. Meanwhile, flannel, typically made from wool or cotton, could cause reactions in those allergic to these natural fibers. Always check the material composition if you have known skin sensitivities.

How can I identify high-quality fleece and flannel when shopping?

To determine high-quality fleece, look for dense, smooth, and pill-resistant fabric. It should feel thick and heavy with a soft hand. For flannel, a high thread count (at least 170) and double-napping (fluffiness on both sides) signify superior quality. Both fabrics should not appear thin or sparse, and the colors should be vibrant and not easily faded.

Are there any significant environmental concerns associated with fleece since it’s a synthetic material?

Yes, as a petroleum-based product, the production of fleece can contribute to pollution and the material is not biodegradable. Also, microplastics can be released into the water supply during washing. However, many manufacturers now make fleece from recycled plastic bottles, providing a more sustainable option.

Is there any special care required when washing and drying fleece and flannel?

Both fleece and flannel require careful washing to maintain their softness and durability. For fleece, use cold water and a gentle cycle, and avoid fabric softener and bleach. Flannel can be machine washed with warm water, but it may shrink slightly during the first wash. Both should be tumble dried on low heat or air-dried to prevent shrinkage and maintain softness.

Can fleece and flannel be used together in a single product, like a dual-sided blanket?

Absolutely! In fact, dual-sided blankets that utilize both materials are popular for their combination of the soft, smooth texture of fleece and the warm, cozy feel of flannel. This creates a versatile blanket that is warm yet lightweight, perfect for a variety of climates and seasons.


In our exploration of flannel vs fleece, we’ve dived deep into their origins, characteristics, and common uses. While both materials have their own unique qualities, your final choice ultimately hinges on your personal preferences and needs.

To recap, flannel, with its comfort and warmth, is a classic material loved for its softness and coziness. It is versatile, being used in clothing, bedding, and home decor. It’s an ideal choice for those who appreciate natural materials and a traditional feel.

Fleece, on the other hand, stands out for its exceptional warmth to weight ratio. It’s incredibly soft, lightweight, and a good insulator, making it perfect for colder climates or those who naturally feel the cold more. Its synthetic nature allows it to dry quickly, making it an excellent choice for outdoor clothing or bedding in damp environments.

When deciding between flannel and fleece, consider the climate, your intended use, and personal comfort preference. Both materials can provide comfort and warmth, but each does so in its own unique way. Whether it’s the plush luxury of a fleece blanket or the traditional comfort of a flannel shirt, both fleece and flannel have plenty to offer. Remember, it’s your comfort that matters the most, so choose the material that makes you feel good and suits your lifestyle the best.

Sara Pittman, an expert in crafts and handmade creations, is renowned for her distinct and intricate designs. Her work masterfully combines traditional methods with contemporary aesthetics, producing stunning and practical pieces. Sara's exceptional craftsmanship can be seen in every project she undertakes, whether it involves knitting, crocheting, quilting, or embroidery. Her writing mirrors her enthusiasm and expertise, offering readers valuable insights and guidance for their own crafting endeavors.