We are in the midst of Winter, and this means one thing: we’re looking for the softest fabrics with the best insulating properties for our projects. Now for us here at Adam Ross Fabrics, one material, in particular, supercedes the rest when it comes to wrapping up snug and warm. Fleece! While this fabric is not made up of natural fibres, it is manufactured to encompass all of the best qualities of wool, which forms a sheep’s fleece. When working with this material, you can expect to obtain the warmth of wool without the itchiness. Meaning that you get the best of both worlds. What’s more? It’s inexpensive in comparison!
So, if this sounds good to you, read on for a complete guide to working with this soft and durable fabric, along with a mega-list of all different types of fleece.
Cotton/Cotton Blended Fleece
- Smooth outer surface
- Plush inner nap
- Used for sweatpants and t-shirts
- Smooth outer surface
- Plush inner nap
- Smooth outer surface is shiny and repels moisture
Lycra Spandex Fleece
- Mainly Cotton with a small % of Lycra Spandex to make it stretchy
- Good for fitted Women’s, Juniors and Performance garments
- Double Sided
- Thin and soft
- Wicks moisture away from the body
- Good for performance garments
- Thick and warm
- Good for blankets and jackets
- Check out our full range here
French Terry Fleece
- Unbrushed on both sides
- Un-fluffy nap
- Thin and flat
- Knit fabric, made up of twisted yarns
- 100% Polyester
- Very fluffy
- Used to line garments
- Made to resemble wool fleece
Generally speaking, most types of fleece are pretty similar, in terms of the manufacturing process. The cloth is run through a specialist napping machine, which runs mechanical bristles along the textile. This raises the surface of the cloth, giving the end result the soft, fluffy texture we’re all so fond of. It is then passed through a shearing machine. This makes use of a precision blade to ensure that the surface is even and stray fibres are removed.
However, different types of fleece will vary in texture and quality. Things you need to consider when choosing your fleece are; the weight, the absorbency, the likeliness to crease and the surface texture. On your pattern, it should tell you the desirable qualities of your fleece or suggest a type to use. While fleece is usually made of man-made fibres, we still recommend pre-washing your fleece, to avoid any shrinkage or colour change after you’ve sewn up your lovely fluffy garment!
When cutting your Fleece, ensure that you do not stretch the fabric at all and that it is laid out flat on the table. Ideally, use a rotary cutter or razor blade to cut your fleece, as it is often very thick, and can be difficult to cut accurately. Fleece does have a nap. The fabric has a pile, so rather than lying vertical, the fibres run in a particular direction. You will be able to feel which way the nap runs by brushing your hand gently over the fabric. This is sometimes known as “stroking the cat”. Stroking one way will feel smoother than the other, so line up any pieces to ensure that the nap runs the same way for a sense of consistency.
Sewing Fleece is actually relatively simple! To ensure your fabric does not become trapped in the machine, you need to use a sharp needle, that can cope with more heavyweight fabrics. A universal, ballpoint or stretch needle, size 80/10 will suit Fleece. Regular polyester thread works fine with Fleece, although you may want to buy a ‘tougher’ or ‘stronger’ blend, to suit more heavyweight Fleece projects. Be sure to clean your machine of any lint from the Fleece as you go, as your machine can quickly become clogged up!
The best stitch to sew Fleece with is a regular straight stitch, but with a longer length to avoid machine jams. For stretchy Fleece fabrics, consider a narrow and short zig-zag stitch or a stretch stitch. It is definitely worth reinforcing seams such as armholes and neck holes with a zig-zag stitch or overlocker, as this will reinforce parts of the garment that will be under the most stress.
While Fleece fabrics do not fray on cut edges, it is ideal to finish your garments properly for a longer lifetime! For a professional look, overlock your seams or use a faux flat fell, lapped or double topstitched seam. To hem your fleece use a twin needle, to straight stitch or zig zag.
As you can see, fleece is an ideal fabric to work with, especially during the Winter months, and isn’t as complicated to use as you might first think! We think that something soft, warm and cosy would sew up a perfect last-minute gift for family and friends. Check out our Fleece Pinterest board for ideas!
Do you like sewing with fleece and have any top tips? Or are there any other fabrics you’d like help tackling? Let us know below!