Learn about what is fleece. If you haven't heard of the term fleece in regard to fabric, you're one of many. Yet, chances are you have seen and handled it before; you just weren't paying close attention. In this article, you will learn what is fleece fabric, the types of fleece, how it is made, what it is used for, and its benefits.
Fleece Fabric Tutorial
What is Fleece?
Fleece is a soft fabric with a napped surface that has excellent insulating properties. It retains body heat well, making it ideal for cold weather. It's a warm fabric that comes in a range of materials.
Although fleece fabric is named after a sheep's fleece coat, it is not entirely natural. The majority of fleece fabric available today is made of polyester fibers, but it can also be made of cotton, hemp, and rayon fibers. This woven fabric is a breathable, low-cost substitute for wool that ages well and does not fray easily.
What is Fleece Fabric's Origin and History
The fabric was invented in 1979 by Malden Mills, which is now known as Polartec. Later they collaborated with Patagonia to produce better-quality fleece fabrics. It was named one of the 100th most important inventions of the 20th century by Times Magazine in 1999.
It not only solved some of the problems with wool (namely its itchiness and its weight, especially when wet) but could also keep you warm and cut the wind.
Best of all, fleece didn't need sheep production because it could be made from polyester or other synthetic fibers. As a result, what is now known as fleece today has evolved from what it once was to have more durability and finer-looking threads.
What is Fleece Used For?
Think of versatility when you think of fleece. Fleece fabric is used to make all sorts of garments but is most often used for warm clothing.
Fleece is the go-to fabric for warmth because of its insulating properties. From ear warmers and vests to hats, coats, gloves, scarves, fleece jackets, and throw blankets, there's something for everyone. Fleece garments are also great for sportswear because they keep athletes dry while also allowing their bodies to breathe through the fabric.
Where woolen clothing can be worn, fleece is the perfect alternative, especially as it is just as warm but lighter.
What is Fleece Made Of?
As earlier said, fleece fabric is commonly made of polyester, but sometimes, other fibers like cotton, wool, and rayon are combined with it to give it better texture and vibrance. Its unique properties make it a popular fabric for both outdoor and indoor materials. Fleece is comfortable, lightweight, and perfect for making warm clothes.
Nowadays, fleece can also be made from recycled plastic. It is made by making liquified plastic go through tiny holes on a metal disk called the spinneret that becomes thread when it cools. This thread is then made into fleece.
Advantages of Fleece Fabric
Here are the characteristics of fleece fabric that make it so popular.
- Warmth - Its closest competitor in this regard is wool fabric. Just like wool, fleece fabric is known for its warmth. It is mostly worn in cold regions because of its insulation properties. In addition, the fabric has a pile surface on either side, which means it has layers of cut fibers on both sides, making it perfect for holding in warmth and retaining more heat than regular fabrics.
- Water Repellent - Fleece fabrics are more resistant to moisture than regular fabrics. Its repellant nature is another reason it is a sought-after fabric and is often used outdoors and in damp circumstances. It has the added advantage of drying quickly when wet.
- Lightweight - No one wants clothes that weigh them down or do not allow your body enough freedom. The fleece fabric is the right choice if comfort is important to you. It delivers warmth, looks good, is long-lasting, and, best of all, light enough so that you don't have to walk around with weight all day.
- Durability - Fleece doesn't pill or fray easily. You can rest assured you are buying fabric you can use for a long time if you follow the instructions you will read in this article.
Disadvantages of Fleece Fabric
While fleece fabric has many advantages, there are a few negatives to consider.
- Environmental Impact: Most fleece is made from polyester, a petroleum-based product, which is non-biodegradable. The manufacturing process can be energy-intensive and contribute to pollution.
- Not Breathable: Some fleece varieties can cause overheating, especially during intense physical activities, because they don't breathe well.
- Pilling: Over time, fleece tends to pill, forming small balls of fluff on the surface, which can diminish its aesthetic appeal.
- Static Build-up: Fleece can generate static electricity, which can attract dust, lint, and pet hair.
- Water Absorption: While fleece is good at wicking moisture away, it doesn’t repel water. If it becomes wet, it takes time to dry and loses some of its insulating properties.
- Flammability: Fleece fabric can be flammable if not treated with flame retardants. It can melt and stick to the skin when exposed to open flames.
- Sensitive to Heat: Fleece fabric can melt or shrink when exposed to high temperatures, like in a dryer or near a heater.
Different Types of Fleece
Yes, there is just not one type of fleece. There are several varieties of fleece fabrics to choose from.
|Type of Fleece||Warmth||Durability||Weight||Characteristics|
|Polar Fleece||High||High||Medium||Synthetic; resists moisture.|
|Microfleece||Moderate||Moderate||Light||Finer fibers; quick drying.|
|Polyester Fleece||High||Very High||Medium||Resistant to moisture and abrasion.|
|Cotton/Rayon Fleece||Moderate||Moderate||Medium-Light||Soft, breathable, may shrink.|
|Hemp Fleece||High||Very High||Medium||Eco-friendly; resistant to mold.|
|Merino Wool Fleece||Very High||High||Medium||Natural, soft, odor-resistant.|
|Sherpa Fleece||Very High||Moderate||Heavy||Mimics natural wool.|
|Double-sided Fleece||Very High||High||Heavy||Both sides have a plush surface.|
|French Terry Fleece||Moderate||High||Medium||Smooth exterior, looped interior.|
|Bamboo Fleece||High||High||Medium||Sustainable, antibacterial.|
|Plush Fleece||Very High||High||Heavy||Super soft, luxurious feel.|
1. Polar Fleece
The most popular form of fleece fabric is polar fleece. This is most likely because they are cheaper, softer, and thicker than microfleece. It has excellent insulating properties, works hard at retaining body heat, and prevents moisture from quickly evaporating. It's ideal for blankets, vests, and other winter garments. This form of fleece is available in a variety of colors and is made entirely of polyester.
2. Micro Fleece
This form of fleece, also known as Microfiber fleece, is lightweight and comfortable to the touch. It is the thinnest fleece fabric and is commonly used to line waterproof garments, children's garments, sportswear, and nightwear. Its plush texture and synthetic fibers make it a healthy option for sewing cozy, long-lasting, and easy-to-care-for garments. Fleece is considered micro fleece if it is less than 200 grams per square meter.
3. Polyester Fleece
This fleece is double-sided with a pile on both sides; it is soft, and like the polar fleece, it does not pill. Instead, its surface is napped and so creates a fluffy texture. With its high insulation properties, it is mostly used outdoors.
4. Cotton and Rayon Fleece
These types of fleece have either cotton or rayon incorporated in them. They are soft and smooth and very breathable.
5. Hemp fleece
This is a natural fleece that is fluffy and contains cotton. It has a deep pile on one side and is smooth on the other side.
6. Merino Wool Fleece
Yet another natural fabric, it is made from fibers from merino sheep’s wool. It is a very fluffy and warming fleece.
7. Sherpa Fleece Fabric
This fabric is a thicker fleece with a textured and raised pile. The pile is longer than many of the other types of fleece above. It often has a slight stretch and makes warm winter jackets, coats, and blankets. Sherpa fleece can be made from cotton, wool, polyester or acrylic, or a blend of these.
8. Double Sided Fleece
Double-sided fleece is a type of fleece fabric that has napped, push surfaces on both sides. It is exceptionally warm and soft since is fluffy on both sides, unlike most other fleeces, which have a nap on just the outside.
9. Bamboo Fleece
Bamboo fleece is an eco-friendly fabric made from bamboo pulp. Since it is made from a natural fiber, it is soft, breathable and highly absorbent. It is great for sensitive skin and resists odor.
10. French Terry Fleece
French terry fleece is a knit fabric that has a looped underside and smooth exterior. It is lighter than many other types of fleece making it ideal for sportswear.
11. Plush Fleece
Plush fleece is ultra soft with a deep pile. It is often compared to velvet and is especially warm. Use it for blankets and winter clothing.
What is Fleece vs Wool?
One of the most frequently asked questions about fleece is what is fleece compared to wool. Although wool is a strong fabric, most people prefer fleece because it is lighter, smoother, and less likely to itch. Fleece has all of the benefits of wool without the drawbacks.
While wool is more environmentally friendly than fleece, it has since begun to catch up with the use of recycled plastics in its making. We will highlight the features of both fleece and wool below.
- Lighter than wool
- Softer than wool
- Not environmentally friendly
- Somewhat breathable
- Does not insulate when wet
- Heavier in weight
- Environmental friendly
- Capable of insulating when wet
How To Take Care of Your Fleece Fabric
Most fleece fabric can be washed in a washing machine but always check the care instruction label first.
Here are some general tips for washing fleece:
- WATER TEMPERATURES - Cold water should be used to wash your fleece. You don't have to dry clean it.
- BEST CYCLE - When machine washing, use your machine's delicate mode.
- SEPARATE - Washing the fleece fabric with other dark-colored garments is not a good idea because it may be difficult to get rid of the lint.
- DRYING - Instead of using a dryer to dry your fleece fabrics, let them air dry because fleece does not like heat.
- DO NOT BLEACH - Bleach and fabric softeners should not be used in the washing machine because they can damage the fabric.
- DO NOT DYE - Do not use fabric dye on your fleece fabric.
What is Fleece - Sewing
Fleece fabrics make for excellent dresses and clothes but they can be hard to sew because of their bulk.
A trick to make sewing fleece easier is to feed the fabric through the machine and to pin the seams alternately - that is use the pins on both sides of the seam to be sewn.
Sew long stitches to prevent stretching. You can also reduce excess fabric by using strategies like grading seams and allowances. This will help you reduce excess fabric at the seams. It also helps to use sharp cutting tools and polyester threads.
Fleece Sewing Patterns
Learn how to sew with fleece with these easy tutorials from the Treasurie blog
Choosing the Right Fleece Quality
We have established that there are different types of fleece available to choose from. This may be the case but you want to ensure that you get the best quality available. Here are tips to help you choose.
- Fleece thickness: Keep an eye on the thickness and weight of your fleece fabric. Heavyweight fleece has a better warming capacity and is generally more expensive.
- Fleece with a high price tag: Let's face it, good fabrics aren't cheap. Fleece fabric with a higher price tag is typical of higher quality.
- Pilling: Fleece of good quality does not pill as much. At purchase, rub the fleece together to see if tiny balls appear on the surface.
- Recovery: Make sure to check the fabric's recovery after stretching. High-quality fleece recovers quicker.
What is Fleece FAQs
What kind of fabric is fleece?
Fleece is a predominantly polyester fabric with a napped surface, made to imitate the warmth of wool. It is lightweight, durable, and warm and is ideal for a large number of winter clothing items and throw blankets.
Is fleece a durable fabric?
Most fleece fabric is durable and is perfect for cold weather clothing. Good quality fleece should be low pilling, but you still need to wash it with care.
Is fleece always polyester?
While many types of fleece fabrics are polyester, they can also be made from natural fibers such as cotton or wool. To reduce costs, these natural fibers are often combined with polyester.
What is Fleece - In Conclusion
Fleece fabrics are a good investment for warm winter clothing. If you are looking to create unique clothes that are comfortable, warm, and snuggly without being too heavy, you should definitely use this fabric.