Fleece fabrics are warm, comfortable and lightweight. Fashions, accessories and home goods made of fleece can be found everywhere; from trendy boutiques to discount retailers, from sporting goods stores to baby stores, from home accessory purveyors to fund-raising groups. This synthetic fabric emulates natural wool and is available in hundreds of solids and patterns.
Polyester fibres, often created from recycled plastic bottles, are machine twisted into yarn and machine knit into fabric. The next step is fabric brushing to create a nap which is then sheared, giving a soft, overall solid texture to the knit. Many fleece fabrics have anti-pill qualities that provide longer lasting good looks and wear, compared to less expensive fleeces.
There are four types of fleece: Micro-fleece has the texture of chamois and is used primarily for shirts, trousers, robes and jacket linings. One-hundred weight fleece is heavier than micro-fleece and most often found in sweatshirts, warm-up suits, jacket linings and accessories like hats and slippers. Mid-weight fleece, often called polar fleece, is generally used for jackets, active and leisure wear, vests, blankets and throws as well as mittens, hats and slippers. Most fleece falls into the mid-weight category. Fleece blended with spandex or Lycra provides extra comfort in outdoor and active wear. The spandex or Lycra also gives definition when fleece is used to fashion trendy dresses, trousers and skirts.
Because fleece is made of polyester, it is one easy-care fabric that actually wicks moisture away from the body. Many baby diapers now have fleece in their composition. This lightweight fabric is hydrophobic, meaning is does not retain water, making it an excellent choice for weather-resistant outdoor wear. What's more, fleece is long-wearing and maintains its colour wash after wash.
Fleece is not windproof. Clothing manufacturers often line fleece with another fabric to create windproof qualities. Fleece does not absorb moisture, which limits its applications in the garment industry. It is a high-static fabric and can act as a magnet for pet hair and debris. Without treatment with a fire retardant, fleece is flammable. While easy care, fleece can be easily ruined by washing and drying at high temperatures.
Sewing and No-Sew Projects
When sewing with fleece it is important to lay the nap in one direction. There is a face and back to fleece fabric and it is finished on one side only. Pay special attention when cutting a pattern from fleece to be certain all your pieces are placed correctly. A 70 or 80 needle works best for sewing fleece. Because fleece does not ravel, it is excellent for no-sew projects like blankets and throws. Even young children can contribute to fund-raising efforts by using a no-sew, tie pattern for blankets and throws. These patterns are especially popular in two-sided fleece blankets and throws.