Sewing with Fleece: Tips and Tricks
Synthetic fleece can be coined as a recent invention, making cold bodies warmer since 1979. Synthetic fleece was the new alternative to wool garments created by Malden Mills out of Maine. A few years later the clothing company, Patagonia, worked with Malden Mills to create their patented fleece called “Synchilla.” This fleece fabric would be used in the creation of their iconic Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover, creating a fleece production boom. Fleece is readily available in any color, pattern and thickness one can think of.
Fabric Characteristics of Fleece
- Won’t fray or ravel
- Most fleece on the market is polyester but can have blends with cotton, lycra/spandex or rayon
- “Anti-pill” fleece was also invented to combat the wearing out of the fabric over time/washings
- Doesn’t shrink when washed
- Has a right and wrong side, the fabric will curl towards the wrong side
- Repels water
- Breathable, but also insulating
- Certain types of fleece can pill with extensive wear/improper washing
- Can be bulky
- Static (people will know if you have a dog or cat!)
- Will melt under an iron
- Will stretch when sewing
Types of Fleece
Here are some popular types of fleece and their uses:
Looks like fluffy wool, used in linings, jackets and blankets
Usually two different colors for a “heathered look”, used in clothing popular for work/office wear
Thin, soft double-sided, popular in workout wear/outdoor gear
Blankets and jackets
Cotton Blended Fleece
Lycra Spandex Fleece
Fitted women’s and kid’s clothes (Think fall/winter fleece lined leggings)
Smooth shiny outside, plush inside, used in blankets
French Terry (Fleece)
Sweatshirts, casual wear, lounge shorts
Choosing the Right Weight of Fleece
- 100 Weight—Thinnest option, great for transition temperature days
- 200 Weight—Most common of fleece, jackets, great for fall and early winter
- 300 Weight—Best for the coldest winter days/very chill temperatures
Care and Use of Fleece
- Do not iron directly on fleece. . . it will melt
- Stain? Spot treat/hand wash if possible
- If an all-over wash is needed, turn inside out, gentle cycle, cold water, lay flat to dry is preferred
- No bleach, fabric softener or dryer sheets, this will damage your fabric
- Fleece can go in the dryer if in a hurry, lowest heat setting and remove when done
BERNINA Presser Feet to Sew Fleece
Depending on the project, you can use many BERNINA presser feet to get great stitches. BERNINA Overlockers also do a wonderful job with fleece.
BERNINA Edgestitch Foot #10D
BERNINA Edgestitch Foot #10D is great for joining two pieces of fleece without the bulk of a seam by using a zig-zag stitch.
BERNINA Three-Sole Walking Foot with Seam Guides #50
BERNINA Three-Sole Walking Foot with Seam Guides #50 helps to keep both layers from shifting and/or stretching.
Tips for Sewing Fleece
- Longer stitch length
- Zigzag stitch or a straight stitch
- Lower your pressure foot pressure
- Keep your sewing machine clean when sewing with fleece—time to break out the lint brush
- Needles to Use: Universal or Stretch use size appropriate for your thread
- Fleece does stretch, so make sure not to pull or stretch the fabric when sewing
- Use pins or Wonder Clips to help fabric from shifting
- Use the Height Compensation Tool to stitch over extra bulky seams
As I sit here at my desk writing this post, I’m wrapped up in my fleece “Desk Blanket,” the one you keep in the office for when the AC is blasting in the summer or snuggle under in the winter. Fleece is such a popular textile these days, you can make almost anything with it; clothing, blankets, winter wear to pet accessories. Get ready for winter today and find the right fleece to keep you warm and stylish!
Fear No Fabric!
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I just purchased my first BERNINA and hopefully will learn all aspects of my machine.