Fleece is soft and comfortable and is ideal for the cold winter months. Not only can you make cozy pajamas, but fleece is also great for blankets to cuddle under while the cold wind blows outside. If you have not had much experience sewing with fleece, this article should help to guide you in the right direction.
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Because sewing fleece is a little more complicated than sewing with something like cotton, it is a good idea to start with an easy pattern; one which doesn’t have too many pieces or seams. Perhaps start with a blanket or a loose-fitting item of clothing like a jumper or mittens.
Fleece is thick and it isn’t that easy to see stitches, but it is still better to choose a matching color of thread. If your fleece is a print pattern, choose a thread that is similar to one of the dominant colors.
The best thread to use is polyester or polyester-wrapped cotton as both have some give, unlike cotton.
Fleece is thick so you probably won’t need to line it, but if you decide it would be more comfortable and stable, a thin fabric would best be chosen such as cotton or polyester.
There are many types of fleece out there, including the following.
- Rayon fleece: soft and smooth, as well as breathable.
- Cotton fleece: absorbs moisture, is soft, and breathable.
- Faux sherpa: as soft as wool.
- Polar fleece: thick and synthetic. It makes a suitable warm lining for such garments as jackets.
- Bamboo fleece: soft.
- Hemp fleece: fluffy on one side and smooth on the other.
- Polyester fleece: soft and durable.
Whichever you choose, it is a good idea to check that it is anti-pill. Pills are little balls of fuzz that sometimes form on fleece. Not only do they look messy, but they can also irritate the skin.
Before you start sewing, it is a good idea to wash your fleece fabric first. This is because it can shrink when you wash it, especially for the first time. Always wash on a warm cycle, not hot, as that definitely would shrink it. Remember to always use a warm cycle even after sewing. Drying fleece in the dryer can also shrink it, so always hang it out to dry on the washing line. It’s not advisable to iron fleece as it can melt, but then fleece doesn’t really get creased so there should be no problem.
Marking, Cutting, and Sewing
The first thing to do when you are ready to sew is to mark the fabric around the pattern with chalk, a fabric marker, or a piece of tape. Fleece can look similar on both sides, so be careful to pick the right side.
Secure the pattern to the fleece with pins or fabric weights. If you are using pins, make sure that they are long as it is difficult to see small pins in fleece. You will need to do 2 rows of pins next to each other. Position the pins about ½ inch from the edges of the pattern.
It is important to check that the nap is going the same way all over the fabric. This is easily checked. Make sure that the fibers are running in the same direction by running your hands over the fleece.
The next step is to cut around the pattern. Because fleece is so thick, you will need very strong and sharp fabric scissors or a rotary cutter. If you use dull scissors, you could end up with jagged edges. If you use rotary cutters, place the fabric on a mat on the table. Rotary cutters are powerful and could damage your table.
There is no need to sew interfacing, but if you want the item of clothing to be more rigid, you can either sew or iron interfacing along an edge or a seam. Areas, where you might want interfacing, include zippers, hems, and shoulder areas of pullovers
Set Up the Sewing Machine
It is best to use a new needle for this task. Fleece is thick and will need a sharp needle to break through the fibers. The needle should be a size 12 and a ballpoint needle is best as it goes through the fibers but doesn’t cut through the fabric all the way which can look unsightly.
You will need to put a walking foot onto the machine as it stops the fabric from getting bunched up. If you have to use your ordinary presser foot, go a bit slower to make sure that the fabric doesn’t get stuck.
To sew fleece you need to do a zig-zag stitch and it is best to choose the narrowest as you don’t want the stitches to be seen. However, it is a good idea to use long stitches as they have more give. Fleece is a material you want to be comfortable wearing.
Sew the Fabric
Put the fleece directly under the needle after you have raised the presser foot. Then you can start to sew a hem or seam. Make sure that the material is as straight as possible and that you have the seam allowance you want. This should be 0.25 inches for the best results.
Lower the presser foot gently and start to sew slowly. This will stop you from making mistakes like allowing the material to bunch up. However, once you have more experience sewing fleece, you can quicken up.
If you are feeling a little unsure about sewing fleece, you can sew a few stitches manually to see how it goes. There should be a wheel on your sewing machine that allows you to do this.
It is a good idea to hold the fabric taut as you sew. This will stop the material from bunching. Don’t, however, stretch the fabric as this will make the item of clothing uncomfortable to wear.
Finish the Fabric
The final step is to trim the edges of the material with pinking shears about a ¼ inch away from the seam. This also needs to be done slowly as you don’t want to cut through the seam. Doing this will stop the fabric from fraying.
As can be seen, it is a little different sewing fleece but with some practice, it can easily be mastered.