I wrote this article a few months ago and was originally published in the November issue of Sewing World Magazine but I’m sharing it here for those that missed the publication at the time. This was the second in a series of four fabric guides I wrote for the magazine, which I thoroughly enjoyed. A big thank you to Emma at Mummy & Millie’s Boutique for helping me out with the fleecey makes!
Fleece : A Fabric Guide
Fleece – there are lots of different varieties of fleece available and I hope to give you a whistle stop tour of some different varieties and how to care and sew with fleece. Fleece is a soft, warm fabric with a lofty napped surface and has great insulating properties. It can be made from a variety of natural and manmade fibres and was originally produced to mimic animal fleece (think goat or sheep) but these days there are oodles of different types of fleece available and it can be used in many different ways. Fleece fabrics are warm and very comfortable to wear and are economical too.
At Plush Addict we stock a variety of different types of fleece from super soft, lightweight microfleece to buttery soft, natural bamboo fleece to luxury cuddle fleece which has a super snuggly pile. Let’s look at the different kinds of fleece individually…
Microfleece was one of the first types of fleeces we chose to stock. It’s very soft and thin. Microfleece has special properties when it comes to water, it wicks moisture away from the skin when worn so is used in performance clothing and also to line modern cloth nappies. No fabric will be completely dry when liquid is added but microfleece is one of the best at pulling the moisture away from the skin to the outer of the fabric and letting it evaporate and keeping you cool and comfortable.
Microfleece is a great choice for exercise clothing through the colder months and for baby items such as blankets, clothes and nightwear because it’s lightweight and very soft.
Polar fleece is probably the most economical fleece available. It’s thicker than microfleece and has a soft hand, however it’s not as soft as some of the supersoft fleeces available. Polar fleece behaves quite differently as far as moisture is concerned and doesn’t let moisture evaporate so easily. It’s also very warm so it makes brilliant winter clothes such as jackets, jumpers, hats and scarves and well as being a great insulating layer for a blanket. Both our microfleece and polar fleece have been tested to the EN71 standard giving you confidence they are suitable for toy making.
Polar fleece comes in some fantastic rainbow of colours. Emma from Mummy & Millie’s Boutique recently made this adorable children’s fox coat from orange polar fleece for our daughter who is over the moon and is refusing to take it off! The fox’s face demonstrates how well fleece can be used in adding applique details; it’s ideal as it doesn’t fray. Emma makes these wonderful clothes to order. She often makes bespoke items for me when I just don’t have the time to use all of the fabrics I want to. Do look Emma up on Facebook to see more examples of her amazing work.
This stuff is to die for! Supersoft, luxurious with a deep pile you want to dive in to, there isn’t anyone that come in to the warehouse and has a feel of this fabric that doesn’t say “Mmmmmm…” This fabric makes ideal snuggly items such as blankets, bath robes and it also makes the most divine jackets and jumpers. Our cats are also rather partial to this fabric, we also call it the cat magnet fabric! Your moggy will thank you for a special blanket made from cuddle fleece.
This fantastic children’s bathrobe is another of Emma’s imaginative creations. It has lavish cuddle fleece on one side and a soft fluffy flannel on the other. These fabrics pair well together to give a really warm luxury garment anyone would find difficult to take off through the winter months. Having seen and felt this I think this pairing of fabrics would also make an incredible foot muff!
Bamboo and Cotton Fleece
A lot of people think fleece is just made from polyester but it’s the way the fabric is manufactured that makes it a fleece, rather than the composition. As well as the manmade fibre fleeces we also stock a range of organic natural fleeces made from bamboo, cotton and hemp (and mixes of these fibres). Primarily we stock these for the cloth nappy making community as they are very absorbent fabrics, but they are also fantastic fabrics for clothing too. These fleeces are soft and fluffy on one side and have a smooth knit on the reverse. They take dye well so you could get creative with your own colour palette and they are particularly well suited to makes where you’d like some breathability in the fabrics whilst providing warmth at the same time.
Composition and Handling
Fleeces have at least one side which has a soft fluffy nap. They are a knit rather than a woven fabric so they won’t fray when cut and the fabrics have a cross grain stretch.
Fleeces are easy to care for and quality fleece washes well. Fleeces are prone to pilling (that’s bobbling in non fabric speak) where the fibres of the fabric form small balls on the surface. Look out for an “anti-pil” label when you are shopping for fleece. Pills can also occur because of friction rubs and are often inevitable but can easily be removed with a razor blade. Natural fibre fleeces, like many natural fibres, are prone to shrinkage so pre-washing is definitely recommended before making up your project.
Top Tips For Sewing With Fleece
Use a universal, ballpoint or stretch needles size 80/10
Use a longer stitch length – test before you sew, stitches that are too short are likely to jam your machine
Don’t stretch fleece when you sew – you’ll end up with a distorted garment or project otherwise
Consider the stretch – remember that fleece has a stretch across the grain so make sure you cut your pattern pieces with this in mind.
Use a twin needle for hemming – this will give a professional looking finish
Defluff you machine – if you’re sewing a lot of fleece then do defluff regularly to save skipped stitches and other problems.
I hope this guide has given you some information you might not have known about fleece. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch via my shop.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this fabric guide and found it helpful why not take a look at some of my other fabric guides?