Stitch n Save: Fleece Guide

Fleece Patterns


For your sewing and crafting delight, no other fabric can compare with fleece. Warm and cozy, fleece fabric is easy to sew and to work with. Fleece patterns, including free fleece patterns, commercial fleece patterns, fleece sewing patterns, fleece crafting patterns and "no sew" fleece patterns, abound. You can find fleece patterns for almost any garment, (even for your pet!) as well as fleece patterns for a myriad of fun projects and crafts. Most fleece patterns are very simple yet versatile enough for the expert, making fleece patterns every sewer's delight and making fleece projects quick and rewarding.

When selecting a fleece pattern for a fleece garment, choose loose fitting styles with simple lines and few details. If you can't find fleece sewing patterns in local fabric stores, mail orders are a very good option. For example, "Kwik-Sew" and "Stretch-and-Sew" are nationally available lines that have great fleece patterns. Other pattern lines to look for include: Controlled Exposure, Green Pepper, DK Sports, Jalie, Green Pepper, and Storm Mountain.

Lay out your fleece pattern pieces as directed in the fleece pattern instructions. If your fleece is very thick, squish it down along the fold when you place a pattern piece there. The thickness of the fold can make your garment up to ½" bigger. This is not usually a problem with fleece garments since they are worn loose, however it will affect the size of the neckline.

Since fleece is a pile fabric, you should use nap layouts when cutting out your fleece pattern. By cutting out your fleece fabric in the same direction as the nap you avoid getting different shading when sewing fleece garments. When choosing a fleece pattern you should also keep in mind that extra layers, such as facings, will add bulk. You can reduce bulk by slashing darts and pressing the darts open, or by trimming seam allowances to 6mm. While seam finishes are not necessary when sewing with fleece fabric, you can also zigzag seam allowances together or topstitch to reduce bulk.

TIP: Short pins easily get lost in fleece fabric, so use long ones - the type with bead heads are the easiest to see. Alternatively, if you find fleece hard to pin, you can simply pin through to the first layer. The fleece will stay in position while you cut as the pile makes it stick to itself. Or you can use weights.

NEEDLES

For your fleece patterns, select a needle size that is appropriate for the weight of your fleece fabric. A Universal 11(80) needle is generally appropriate for sewing most types of fleece. The Malden Mills company offers the following needle size recommendations for sewing with their name brand fleeces: Use Universal Point Size 12/80 for Polartec® 100 Series; Universal Point Size 14/90 for Polartec® 200 Series and Prints; Stretch Needles Size 14/90 for Polartec® Power Stretch® Series.

THREAD AND STITCHES

The use of poor thread can ruin a sewing project. When sewing your fleece pattern, use a top quality, 100% polyester thread. Avoid the typical "cotton covered polyester core" thread that is found in all fabric stores. It is weak and it will shred and rot.

A medium to long stitch or a zigzag stitch (length 2.5 - 4mm) and a loose balance tension work best when sewing a fleece pattern. Because stitches are hard to remove, stitch slowly and carefully. If your hems or seams are wavy, your stitch length may be too short. Lessening the presser foot pressure or holding your fleece fabric tight (without over stretching) in both front and back will prevent underlaying creep while you are sewing a fleece pattern.

TIP: Experiment first on scraps of fleece, adjusting the stitch width and length until you like the way the seam looks.

SEWING MACHINES

For most fleece patterns, any sewing machine will do. Be sure the machine has been cleaned and oiled recently, and that the needle is new, sharp and properly positioned. When sewing on a serger (a specialized sewing machine that trims and finishes a seam simultaneously), build in stretch by using four thread overlock. When sewing around curved areas (such as necklines or armholes), stitch slowly and be careful not to stretch the fleece as you guide it through the machine.

Before you begin your fleece pattern, here are some fleece fabric facts to keep in mind:

One of the best things about working with fleece is that the fabric does not ravel and fray so you do not have to interface it, you do not have to line it, and do not have to finish any edges unless you want to.

To determine which side of the fleece fabric is the right side, gently pull along the selvage: the selvage will naturally roll to the right side of the fabric. To easily identify this side when sewing, it's a good idea to mark the wrong side of the fabric with chalk or marking pencils.

Fleece fabric is categorized by weight. Microfleece is lightweight and is good for leggings, jacket linings, etc. 100 weight fleece is a little heavier, and 200 weight is the most common fleece, often seen in jackets, hats, and gloves. 300 weight fleece is best for your heavy, outermost clothing layer.

Spend a little extra money for a quality, non-pill finish fleece. Non-pill finish prevents the surface of the fabric from balling up. The finish is only on the right side, which is why it is important to know the right from the wrong side.

If you are using high quality fleece fabric made by Malden Mills, there is no need to pre-wash the fleece before sewing because the fabric won't shrink and the colors won't bleed. (Exception: Polartec® Power Stretch fabrics will shrink up to 5% in length and 7% in width. Pre-washing is recommended).

Fleece fabric comes in all colors and patterns including solids, large prints and small prints.

Fleece is heat sensitive and prone to melting and scorching. If you must iron it, use a warm iron with a pressing cloth between the fabric and the iron and test a hidden area or scrap.

Machine wash fleece fabric on warm with like fabrics, tumble dry on low, do not use bleach or fabric softeners.

There are many fleece patterns that require no sewing at all! These are better known as "no sew" fleece patterns. There are "no sew" fleece patterns for blankets, throws, scarves, hats, and a myriad of other creative fleece projects.

To find fleece patterns, the Internet is your number one resource. It is full of free, fun, creative and innovative fleece patterns. Find fleece patterns for: a 5 minute scarf, fleece neck warmer, fleece beret, fleece pillowcase, fleece blanket, no sew fleece blanket, fleece hat, fleece toque, fleece headband, fleece mittens, no sew fleece braided rug, fleece sleeping bag, fleece car accessories, fleece dog coats, fleece socks, fleece coats, fleece jackets, fleece vests, fleece underwear, fleece throws, no sew fleece throws, and even fleece diapers!

To get you started, here is one excellent resource for free fleece patterns: http://www.craftfreebies.com/sewing.html#Anchor-Fr-12859

There are also many commercial patterns designed specifically for fleece. The Fleece Planet website, for example, has an extensive collection of easy to sew fleece pattern designs from Kwik Sew. Look here at the selection available. For a women's fleece jacket pattern, see McCalls Pattern #4302 or Kwik-Sew Pattern #2825. For a men's fleece jacket and vest pattern, find Kwik-Sew Pattern #2531. For a fleece vest pattern for men, women and children, see Simplicity Pattern #5333.

Finally, you can also search for fleece patterns via online sewing forums, where sewing and crafting questions and answers are posted, or look for fleece pattern books in your library or local bookstore.

Most importantly, relax, be creative, and have fun with your many fashionable fleece patterns!






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RSS | April 19, 2014

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