Fleece shopping guide
Fleece fabric comes in a range of different varieties - let us explain the differences between the various options. We’ll explain which fabric is best for your sewing project, and what you need to keep in mind when working with fleece:
What is fleece?
Fleece is a fluffy fabric, which may be made from polyester or polyamide microfibres or sometimes even pure wool. Summer fleeces may be made up of up to 50% cotton as well as the microfibres. Elastane is sometimes added to the blend to create a stretch fleece.
The term fleece came from its fluffy, squashy feel, not unlike a sheep’s fleece. Today, the word fleece means lightweight, voluminous and relatively skin-friendly brushed microfibre fabrics created using synthetic fibres.
Fleece is a great alternative to wool, as it has similar warming properties while boasting even better insulation.
Fleece is generally made from polyester or cotton, and we differentiate between the different types of fleece available. These include anti-pilling fleece (which doesn’t bobble), cotton fleece, knitted fleece, double face fleece (two layers), teddy fleece and micro fleece.
Here is an overview of fleece’s most important attributes:
- Especially high heat insulation for such a light weight
- Durable, long-lasting
- Mostly crease-resistant and stretchy
- Water-repellent surface and fast-drying, but not waterproof
- Soft on the skin (no itching like some wools)
- Recyclable, and some recycled fibres are available
- Not wind-proof, so additional membrane may be needed
This versatility means a whole range of possibilities. Fleece is generally used for leisure and functional clothing. It may be used for thermal underlayers, tracksuits, sweatshirts, jumpers and cardigans, as well as used as a separate lining. It’s also great for hats, scarves, cosy blankets and cushion covers.
It’s completely up to you which fleece fabric you choose for your sewing project. Every different fabric comes with its own benefits, so you have to decide which complements your sewing project the best.
Here’s an overview of anti-pilling fleece’s five most important attributes:
- Anti-pilling fleece is made from 100% polyester and has a soft, cosy hand
- The polyester fibres in the fleece are fluffy, so can trap a lot of air to create an insulating effect.
- Anti-pilling fleece is lightweight and dries quickly - perfect for outdoor clothing like fleece jackets, scarves or hats
- Anti-pilling fleece is especially made so that it doesn’t form any bobbles on the surface, even after heavy use and frequent washing.
- We carry anti-pilling fleece by the metre in more than thirty colours.
If you prefer natural products, you can also choose from a wide variety of cotton fleece fabrics. These are generally made up of 80% cotton, making a great natural alternative to polyester fleece.
Helpful tips for working with fleece
Fleece fabrics may be coarse on one or both sides. It depends how the pile thread is woven, i.e. if the cotton or synthetic thread is worked into the fabric. The thicker the fabric, the more coarse it is.
If the fleece is brushed on both sides, decide on a right and wrong side before you begin your project. It’s best to use sharp shears or a rotary cutter to cut fleece.
Fleece is stretchy, so use a stretch needle to sew it. It’s better to use a zigzag stitch on stretch fabrics, so your seams stay stretchy. As fleece doesn’t fray, you don’t need to finish your edges. If you would like a better finish, you can flatlock your seam allowances.
- Be aware of the right and wrong sides
- Cut out with sharp shears or a rotary cutter
- Sewing: Use a stretch needle and a zigzag stitch; doesn’t fray; flatlock to finish seams
Caring for fleece
If you want to make sure your fleece garment keeps its soft finish for years to come, there are few things you need to keep in mind when washing your finished project! It’s a good idea to turn your garment inside-out before putting it in the washing machine. Use a laundry liquid suitable for delicates, and set your machine to no higher than 30°C. As fleece dries extremely quickly, it’s best to just give it a little spin. That’s how you avoid bobbles on the surface of your fleece.
- Turn inside-out
- Wash with laundry liquid suitable for delicates at max. 30°C
- A spin cycle is enough, dries very quickly
Sewing ideas for fleece
Fleece is great for a whole range of sewing projects. Its excellent insulating properties and breathability makes this fabric ideal for use in sportswear. A cosy fleece jacket is a great thing to have on hand through the colder months when you or your little ones are outside.
Fleece is also great for use as an inner lining. Its functional properties are also really handy here.
Its soft drape and fluffy hand make fleece comfortable to wear, making it popular for children and babies: soft fleece hats, onesies and blankets can be whipped up in no time.
Our tip: As fleece fabric doesn’t fray, you can “cut” it to whatever shape you like without having to get your sewing machine out. Simply fold it e.g. to make a poncho:
- Fold a square of fleece in half and cut a semicircle (Ø of your arm span)
- Take a top from your wardrobe and lay it in the centre of the fabric, so the neckline lays flush with the straight edge of the fleece
- Transfer the neckline to your fabric
- Mark lines of around 8cm at waist height to the right and left of the top, and cut on both sides of the fabric
- Cut the neckline out of the fleece
- You can cut a strip from the leftover fleece of around 8cm wide and 1.5 times as long as your waist measurement to make a belt and thread it through your cosy new poncho
To sum it up...
Fleece is a functional, comfortable fabric. If you’ve already decided what you’d like to make, you just need to pick which of the wide variety of fleece fabrics you’d prefer. Here’s a short summary of what you need to keep in mind before you buy:
- The brushed texture of fleece fabrics make them breathable and insulating
- This means that fleece is especially suited to leisure and functional clothing
- Fleece is very stretchy, so use a stretch needle and a stretch stitch (e.g. zigzag)
- Fleece is very easy to care for, dries fast and doesn’t usually need to be ironed