How to Sew Fleece on a Sewing Machine

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Some fleece fabric is polyester created from recycled plastic bottles. Some other fleece fabrics may include wool, cotton, rayon and spandex. Fleece fabric is suitable for a wide variety of things, such as clothing, blankets and throws, insulation and pet beds. Even when wet, fleece provides warmth and maintains good insulation. It is breathable and allows moisture to evaporate quickly. If you use fleece for sewing projects, you need to use slightly different techniques due to some peculiarities of this fabric.

  • Use a new, size 12 (80) needle in your sewing machine. If using a very thick fleece, install a roller-foot or a walking-foot which will make it easier to feed fabric into the machine. Use 100 percent polyester thread as it won't break easily during sewing. Decrease the presser foot pressure to help you feed the fabric into the machine during sewing. Use a 4-thread stitch compacts when using a serger to reduce bulk in seams. Set stitch length to 3 or 3.5 millimeters.

  • Use long (8 to 10 per inch) straight or zigzag stitches. Fleece doesn't unravel, thus no need to finish the edges. You may use decorative stitching to add style to the item. Practice decorative stitching on scraps of fabric first. Use wash-away or tear-away stabilizing tape to reduce stretching when using decorative stitching.

  • Finish hems with ribbing or contrasting binding as a regular hem will be too bulky. Use a two-way stretch fabric and decorative stitching. You can turn the fabric up and use a single or double row stitching without finishing the edge. Use stitching that allows some stretch as fleece is a stretchy fabric.

  • Stabilize fleece edges by using a wash-away basting tape to avoid stretching when sewing in a zipper. Use machine-sewn eyelets for drawstring casings instead of metal grommets as they can easily pull out of fleece.

Tips & Warnings

  • When sewing on a curve, such as sleeves or arm holes, avoid stretching fleece by slowly feeding the fabric into the machine.
  • Never use an iron on fleece, as it will melt the fabric. If you need to use fusible interfacing, apply it with a damp press cloth and an iron set on moderate heat and steam.
  • Press the seams with fingers where necessary.

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