Sewing with fleece can be a lot of fun and there are so many things you can make with it, however, there are a few things that you might want to know that will make your sewing experience with fleece a little easier.
In this blog post, I’m going to go over my top 10 tips for sewing and working with this stretchy, and cozy fabric.
SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #1- How to tell the right side of the fabric
The first tip that we’re going to go over is how to tell the difference between the right and the wrong side of the fabric. Sometimes this is pretty obvious. For example, when you look at printed fleece, the underside may be less vibrant but still can be kind of hard to tell.
With solid-color fleece pieces, it can be really tricky. When you’re sewing up a project and trying to put the right sides together, you’ll want to know which is the “right” side.
Let me show you a SIMPLE HACK. Find the SELVAGE EDGE OF THE FABRIC. This is the edge of the fabric that has the manufactured finished edge. It looks like the photo above.
If you take the non-selvage, the stretchy edge, and pull it, it will curl to the WRONG SIDE.
SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #2- Fleece fabric does not fray
The second tip and what I love about sewing with fleece is that the fabric does not fray. That means that you don’t have to finish the seam edges on your projects and it’s quite nice.
SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #3- Use the correct needle and thread
When you sew on fleece fabric, you want to make sure that you’re using the correct needle and the correct size. You can get away with using a universal needle and honestly that’s what I use most, but you can also use a jersey needle or other ballpoint-type needles. This will keep the needle from putting holes in your fabric.
If you want more tips on needle sizes and needle types, you can download my FREE PRINTABLE SEWING MACHINE NEEDLE GUIDE, which shows you all the needle characteristics and how to use them.
I do recommend using a POLYESTER THREAD.
SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #4- Nap
Fleece fabric does have a nap to it. The nap means the direction that the fluff or fibers of the fabric all go the same way. Corduroy fabric is a good example and is a little more obvious, but fleece also has this.
If I were to cut out a bunch of pieces and not worry about the nap, and they were going in different directions, your finished project is going to look funky and weird and it might even look like it’s a different color.
I’m going to show you on this piece of fleece and these pieces for a slipper pattern. Notice how the front of the sole piece and the front of the top slipper piece are facing the same direction on the fabric. You don’t want to flip the pattern so that the top goes in the opposite direction.
You may be tempted to save fabric, especially on pieces like this, to flip that pattern over and have it face a different direction, to save fabric. DON’T DO IT! If I have to cut out multiples of the same piece, you can flip horizontally, but not vertically. (I hope that makes sense).
SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #5- Sewing machine settings
Stitch Settings: Using the correct sewing machine settings and stitching settings when you’re sewing with fleece fabric will make a big difference.
If you’re sewing an item that’s not going to get stretched, you can get away with using just a regular straight stitch, but you’ll want to adjust the stitch to be a little longer, say 3.5 to 4.
However, if you’re sewing a project that will be stretched at all, you will want to sew using a LIGHTNING BOLT STITCH or if your machine doesn’t have that lightning bolt stitch, just use a REGULAR ZIGZAG STITCH. Adjust the width to 1.5 so it’s a very narrow zigzag stitch. Set the length to be 1.5 or even shorter.
I do recommend testing out your stitches on a scrap piece of fabric before you start sewing your projects. Make sure that you’re using that zigzag or lightning bolt stitch on anything that’s going to stretch on your project because if you don’t when it is stretched the seam will pop and break, and you don’t want a hole in your seam.
If you have a serger, by all means, use it on your fleece projects. It makes the job so much faster and gives you some stretch to your seams and gives you a nice finished edge.
Another thing that you can do and I do recommend, is lowering the presser foot tension if your machine has that adjustment option.
SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #6- Use long pins
Use long pins and use lots of them, especially when you’re sewing around curves or over lots of layers of fabric. If you use little short pins they sometimes can get lost in the fluff of the fleece fabric.
For blankets or items made for children, you don’t want those little pins to get hidden in the fluff.
SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #7- Sewing over bulky seams
When you’re working with fleece and several layers of fabric, it can get kind of bulky and things are going to shift. Here are a few tips for making this a little easier. (Watch the video for examples).
Have you ever seen this little Gadget? Most likely it came with your sewing machine. I have to be honest, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I even knew what this was strange item was.
It really is the coolest little device and it’s called a HUMP JUMPER. It levels off the presser foot when you sew over thick seams. It makes it so you don’t get those skipped stitches, and allows your sewing machine to ease over those bulky seams. They work really well when hemming jeans!
If you don’t have one in your sewing kit, no worries. You can make one by folding a cereal box 3-4 times to make a rectangle as shown in the photo.
Slide it under the back of the presser foot just like you would the hump jumper. (Watch video tutorial for a demonstration).
SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #8- No pressing
Fleece does not need to be pressed. If you need to open up a seam or something, just finger press it.
SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #9- Clean your machine
When you sew with fleece, you are going to have a lot of lint. Even when you’re cutting things out and especially inside your machines.
It’s important that you keep your machines clean. Take the brush that comes with your sewing supplies (or you can use a small paint brush) and brush out around the serger blade, the bobbin case and anywhere else you see lint.
Sewing machine repairman don’t advise blowing it with canned air or air compressors, which can lodge the lint even deeper into your machine.
It is a good idea to have your machine serviced and cleaned once in a while because lint does build up especially using fleece and upcycled sweaters.
SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #10- Use fleece for binding
I wanted to show you some ideas and tips on how to use fleece strips as binding. This binding can be used on so many projects.
Some examples are shown in the photo above with the BOWLING SLIPPERS, and PILOT & PIXIE CAPS.
This binding is so cozy, it stretches really nice, and it has a clean finished look. I SHOW THE TECHNIQUE IN THIS TUTORIAL.
I hope this information was helpful and that it makes your sewing with fleece a little easier.
I do have a new fleece pattern coming out soon, so make sure you are subscribed to my newsletter, so that you can be notified when new goodies and information are come out.
Get in your sewing room, get out your fleece and make something fun.
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