Sewing With Fleece the Easy Way | My Top 10 Tips

sewing with fleece

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.

sewing with fleece selvage edge

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.

sewing with fleece stretchIf you take the non-selvage, the stretchy edge, and pull it, it will curl to the WRONG SIDE.

sewing with fleece non fray

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.

Get the printable here.

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.

sewing tips serger

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.

I really like these long flower pins.

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).

sewing with fleece hump jumperHave 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!

sewing with fleece diy hump jumperIf 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.

sewing with fleece bulky seamSlide it under the back of the presser foot just like you would the hump jumper. (Watch video tutorial for a demonstration).

sewing with fleece finger press

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 cleaning

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 binding

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.

sewing with fleece fleece bindingThis 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.

sewing with fleeceGet in your sewing room, get out your fleece and make something fun.

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Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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How To Make a Fleece Neck Warmer | Free Pattern

NECK WARMER

When it comes to cold weather, you gotta have something to keep your neck warm. This fleece neck warmer is the BEST, and it’s very easy to make! A double layer of cozy fleece fits comfortably around your neck keeping the cold air out.

You can make it any size. I have measurements for a child, youth, adult, and x-large adult. It is a quick and easy sewing project. You can easily have a neck warmer sewn up in ten minutes. It can be made reversible with two different colors of fleece. I will show you how to make both options.

Neck Warmer Materials & Items Needed

  • Fleece (19-21 inches square)
  • Scissors/rotary cutter (optional)
  • Fabric clips/pins
  • Sewing machine/serger (optional)
  • Safety pin
  • Tag (optional)

Neck Warmer Instructions

1-Cutting Out

Measure your head and use the chart above to determine the cutting measurements. I like using a rotary cutter and mat to cut fleece. It helps get a straight cut and is a lot quicker. However, a pair of scissors will work just fine.

REVERSIBLE NECK WARMER:

Cut out two pieces to the measurements given in the chart with the LONG SIDE ON THE STRETCH.

2-Sewing

VERY IMPORTANT! Fleece fabric has some stretch to it and will be more stretchy from selvage edge to selvage edge. (The finished edge of the fabric is the selvage edge).

 

2-Determine which edge is the “stretchy side” and mark with a safety pin.

This is critical because if you sew it with the stretch on the wrong side, you won’t be able to get the warmer over your head.

 

3-Fold in half so the STRETCHY SIDE is along the long edge.

You can sew this neck warmer using a regular sewing machine or a serger. A serger is very nice if you have access to one, but not necessary.  

You can also hand stitch the whole thing. I have a tutorial showing you how to sew a STRETCH STITCH WITH A NEEDLE AND THREAD.

***If using a regular sewing machine set the stitch to a small zigzag stitch (1 1/2 width x 1 length) or the lightning bolt stitch. IF YOU JUST USE A REGULAR STRAIGHT STITCH, THE SEAM WILL POP WHEN THE FABRIC IS STRETCHED. (Watch the video for a demonstration of what happens if you don’t use a stretch stitch). A serger stitch allows stretching.

4-Sew seam

USING A 3/8 INCH SEAM ALLOWANCE, pin or clip in place and sew from the edge to edge. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam if using a single needle machine.

5-Turn right side facing out.

Fold the tube in on itself so RIGHT SIDES ARE FACING EACH OTHER.  Line up the seam and pin in place.

You will be leaving an opening  UNSEWN about 3-4 inches.

TIP: I like to use different colors of pins (red) or clips to mark the opening, so I don’t forget and sew all the way around.

If you want to add a tag to the back neck seam, insert the tag between the layers of fabric and baste in place before sewing the seam. (video tutorial shows how to do this).

Start at one of the RED CLIPS, backstitch, and sew around to the other red clip. Backstitch.

LEARN HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN CUSTOM LABELS HERE

6-Reach your hand inside the opening you left and turn it right side facing out.

7-Sew the opening closed.

Fold the seam allowance inside and pin it in place. You can sew the opening closed with a sewing machine using a small 1/8 inch seam allowance, or hand sew using a ladder stitch.

8- REVERSIBLE NECK WARMER

Place pieces (RST) and sew along the long sides.

 

5- Follow instructions 3 & 4.

Tadah!

Now wasn’t that a simple little project. These make great gifts.

Be sure to check out my other fleece tutorials showing you how to make a fleece headband ear warmers and fingerless mittens.

Play Video

Have fun sewing!

jan3

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Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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Fleece Coneflower: Free Pattern and Tutorial

I do love flowers, and coneflowers are one of my favorites. I have had this magazine page pinned to my bulletin board for some time now, and this was my inspiration for this new fleece coneflower pattern.

Who would have thought that FLEECE would be a great medium for making flowers?  Well, it is!
This fleece coneflower is so quick and easy to make you can have a bouquet made up in no time at all.

Materials & Items Needed

fleece coneflower instructions

  • First, plug in your glue gun so it will be ready when you need it.
  • Cut out 8 pedals. *Make sure to lay the pattern out on the stretch of the fabric, as indicated on the pattern. You can use a couple of different shades if you like.
  • Stretch the petals.  This will make them curl up slightly
  • Do this to all 8 petals. (The top of the petal will be curled up edge)
  • Double thread your needle with a knot at the end.  With the curled edges up, fold the petal in half lengthwise, and stitch to secure in place.
  • Join two petals together, with the tops facing up (curled edge).  Alternate colors if you are using more than one color.  Stitch back and forth a few times to secure.
  • Continue stitching petals together until you have joined all eight.
  • Turn flower over and join the first petal to the last.  Stitch around one more time catching the back of each petal.  Pull tight and knot.  Cut your thread.

 

Coneflower Center

  • Using the flower center pattern piece, cut out one center using the color of your choice.  You can use felt or fleece.
  • Using a simple basting stitch, sew around the outer edge, about 3/8 inch inside the outer edge.
  • Poke the needle to the outside and pull slightly to gather in edges.  Fill with stuffing, or I just like to use little pieces of scrap felt.  It works great.
  • Pull the thread tight to gather in the edges.  Use a pencil or some other device to poke the raw edges to the inside of the ball.  Pull the thread and tuck, keep doing this until you have worked all the edges inside.

 

  • Stitch back and forth to secure in place.  Don’t worry too much what your stitches look like, as they will not be seen.  Knot and cut thread.

 

  • Dab a little bit of hot glue to the back of your flower center and press firmly onto the front center of your flower.

Making the Stem

  • To make a cute stem, simply paint a bamboo skewer green and cut out a felt leaf.  Using the glue gun, add a dab of glue to the bottom 2 inches of the leaf.  Place the stem on top.

 

  • Add just a little more glue and fold the edges over.

Tadah!  Wasn’t that easy and fun.

Send me a note if you have any questions or concerns while sewing these up.

felt flower wrist corsage
Learn how to make a wrist corsage here.
 
I have designed a fun pattern with 5 other types of flowers using felt and fleece. 

GET THE PATTERN HERE

Enjoy!

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Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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Fleece Binding Sewing Tutorial

fleece binding

I love using fleece to bind the edges of a lot of my upcycled sweater sewing projects. Like sweater slippers, hats and cozy blankets. This fleece binding technique is so easy and it makes the finished edge look so sharp and crisp.

So without further chit chat, let’s get to it.

Play Video

Choosing the binding fabric

The great thing about using fleece fabric is that is DOES NOT FRAY! You can use a knit fabric as long it is doesn’t have too much cotton in it. If the knit has a lot of cotton, it will fray.

If you have a knit shirt that you don’t wear anymore, but you like the color or print, reuse for binding! I do it all the time.

You can test the fabric by cutting a strip and then pull and stretch it. If the edges fray, then it won’t work for binding. If it doesn’t fray, you are good to go.

Bulky fleece, like Polar fleece tends to be a little too bulky. Have fun mixing up colors and prints with your projects.

Cutting out fleece strips

Cut out strips of fleece (on the stretch) 2 – 2 1/2 inches by however long you need for your project.

If you don’t have a fleece piece long enough, no worries, you can join several strips together. I will show you how easy it is.

Joining strip together

 

Place the strips Right Sides Together (RST) and overlap the edge by 1/4
inch. Make sure the top piece is on the right side as shown above.

Stitch from point to point as indicated in photo. I just eyeball it, but if you needed to, you could mark the edge with a piece of masking tape.

Back stitch at the begging and end of the seam.

Trim the seam leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Now clip the edges.

Finger press the seam open.

Ta dah, now you have one continuous strip of binding.

This technique alleviates the bulk that you would get with a straight seam.

It offsets the seams so they are not all in one place and still gives you the bias stretch.

Fleece binding application

Sew, using a 1/4 -3/8 inch seam allowance. (Which is usually the edge of your pressure foot) Stretch as you sew.

Back stitch at the beginning and end of the seam.

If your binding is going to be on the thinner side, trim the edges.

Finger press the seam towards the binding.

Fold the binding to the width you want over the the inside.

Pin in place.

Stitch IN THE DITCH of the previous seam.

You will have extra fabric.

CAREFULLY trim the excess fabric close to the seam. Be very careful not to clip the fabric underneath. I have sadly done this.

Now wasn’t that a snap!

Look how nice and even and crisp the edges are.

Whether it is a cozy blanket or a pair of sweater slippers that you need to bind, get out your fleece and give it a whirl.

Learn how to make and bind your own mini weekly planner with these cozy sweater strips.

Any questions or suggestions, please, let’s chat.

Have fun sewing!
 
Be sure to check out my TEACHABLE SITE for classes and tutorials, and my YouTube station.
 

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Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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DIY Upcycled Poncho

Do you have a few sweaters kicking around that you don’t wear? Turn them into a fun, colorful DIY upcycled poncho.

Ponchos are not just for little girls!

diy Upcycled Poncho

Last fall I designed a few little girl poncho patterns and had the intention of making them into women’s patterns because ponchos are not just meant for little girls, right? Well, I put it off until I had someone request an adult size. It took me a while to tweak and get it right, but it tuned out kind of fun.

diy Upcycled Poncho

Look how cute they are made up using fleece. Just think of all the possibilities and color combinations. Ahhhh, imagine one made up using all black fleece or sweater material, how classy and sharp that would look! Something I will definitely do. If any of you make one of these up, please send me photo so we can share it.

What is fun about these ponchos, is that you can wear them several ways. Flip it sideways and off center and it has a little more whimsy, playful look than just straight-on-centered. If you use felted wool sweaters and sew the seams using a single needle sewing machine, the poncho looks really cute worn inside out with the seams exposed.

diy Upcycled Poncho

I use fleece on the neck binding which gives it a soft, comfortable feel around the neck.

diy Upcycled Poncho

The neck binding is easy to sew using a technique I use that saves time and uses fewer steps than applying normal binding. LEARN HOW TO DO IT HERE.

These ponchos make a fun alternative to a light sweater.

Put a little playful back in your wardrobe!

The patterns are available in my website shop and in my Etsy.

Have fun sewing!

 

Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

Read More

PILOT & PIXIE CAP PATTERN – Another Upcycled Sewing Project

pilot & pixie cap

Just in time for the cooler weather coming on, these cozy pilot & pixie caps are the perfect thing to keep your little ones ears nice and toasty!

This is another opportunity to use some of your sweaters from your stash.  If you are like me, once you start making things from upcycled sweaters, collecting second hand sweaters becomes an addiction.  You just can’t pass up another great color or unique textured sweater.

pilot & pixie cap

If you would like the look of a hand knit hat for your child but you don’t knit, but you DO sew, this pilot & pixie pattern works great.  Use the bottom cuff of a sweater and cut it out with the method I show in my pattern tutorial and it will hug around your child’s face just like you had knit it by hand.

pilot & pixie cap

If you would like the look of a hand knit hat for your child but you don’t knit, but you DO sew, this pilot & pixie pattern works great.  Use the bottom cuff of a sweater and cut it out with the method I show in my pattern tutorial and it will hug around your child’s face just like you had knit it by hand.