Saturday, 30 April 2005

What is Doctor Flannel???

Not a lot of stitching happening here at the minute - I am between round robin blocks, and am sort of skirting around the edges of the Great Peacock UFO. One section of joined blocks almost complete - maybe a picture tomorrow.

But I find I put different sorts of threads in different places - and have just dug out the Perle #8 crochet cottons, and been working with them again - a nice and easy to use alternative.

And, after discussions on "What is Flannel?" on one of the lists I read, I have been chasing up a little on Doctor Flannel.

I am a little confused, but I think I am getting it worked out. Flannel to me, including "Doctor Flannel" is something that came in a workman's shirt, especially a "Shearer's Shirt". So I dug out my slightly upmarket Shearer's Shirt and checked. Yep! Doctor Flannel in that is a thick, almost felt-like woven, pure-wool fabric. As per this label:

Doctor label

However this is a 1970s shirt, and I don't know that workmen wear them any more - shearers in Australia now seem more identified with the Jackie Howe blue singlet. This is more like a short-sleeved tunic, collarless, with two or three buttons at the neck, but not open right through. It has extremely strong reinforcing under the arms.

And looking around I haven't had a lot of luck finding a photo of someone wearing one - except this:

Doctor Flannel Shirt

So, where am I at, at the moment???? One of my students had some Doctor Flannel at class the other day to make pages for a needlebook, and it is nothing like the Doctor Flannel in my shirt. The shirt one, even though I think they were worn next to the skin, are extremely prickly, and much thicker. Although I have seen reference on the net to grades of Doctor Flannel.

I THINK the shirts are a superseded working men's shirt, and the brand name of the flannel probably came from early advertising, when the superior class of the fabric was being emphasised - probably it was seen as good for wicking perspiration, especially for shearer's, who all succumbed early to arthritis/rheumatism???? Really strange medical claims used to be made in early advertising.

So, is it a case of what was a working men's clothing fabric brand name is now a gentrified, lovely soft type of fabric, rather than a brand name?

And, is there any other sort of woolen flannel now in Australia apart from Doctor Flannel? In other words, are we calling all woolen flannel Doctor Flannel? And is it unique to Australia? Is it made in Australia? Oh Dear - I could go off here and get lost for ever. Think I will stitch.

but then, I added this later. The shirt:



Blogger Debra said...


While reading a book about the Spanish-American war, I found out that is was popular to "dress" soldiers and other workers with some red wool flannel in an effort to reduce illness. During this war, young women would make "belly bands"... like cumberbunds ... out of the flannel for whichever young man they fancied.

The red flannel was supposed to discourage the mosquitoes that carried malaria.

Maybe those red work shirts were a similar thing? I have never heard of Doctor's flannel before, so I believe that it is an Australian thing.

12:05 am  
Blogger Ang40 said...

I understand Doctor's flannel to be a type of woolen cloth which still contains lanoline - greasy matter, and it is popular for needle satchets - to keep one's needles from rosting. I'm looking to purchase some at the moment - it's not easy to find!

11:31 pm  

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