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How to Keep Fleece From Stretching When Sewing Full Guide of 2024

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how to keep fleece from stretching while sewingYou’ve got fleece on the brain, and rightfully so. That cozy, snuggly fabric beckons when the weather turns cold. But fleece can pull and distort as you sew, leaving your projects looking wonky and homemade—not in a good way.

Never fear, you don’t have to let go of your fleece dreams. With smart planning and a few simple tricks, keeping fleece from stretching while sewing is totally doable. So take heart, embrace those comfy fleece vibes and dive into your next fleecy creation.

All it takes is quality materials, strategic cutting and marking, the right needles and thread tension, and gentle pressing. Follow the guidance on stabilizing seams, basting zippers, staystitching, and more in this practical article.

You’ll gain confidence in handling fleece’s quirks so your finished makes flaunt softness and style.

Key Takeaways

  • Use new ballpoint needles and reduced tension. This will help the fabric glide smoothly rather than getting pulled and distorted.
  • Pin the fleece perpendicular to the cut edges. Pinning along the grain line keeps the fleece stable.
  • Handle fleece gently and avoid over-pressing. Excessive handling and ironing can stretch the knit fibers.
  • Use stay stitching on areas prone to stretching, like necklines or armholes. The stitches will stabilize the fabric’s cut edges.

Buy Quality Fleece

Buy Quality Fleece
Get that good fleece, friend. Don’t scrimp or it’ll tug and pull something awful while you’re stitchin’. When buying fleece fabric for your next cozy project, spring for the good stuff. Look for a tightly knitted structure with a plush, dense pile. Cheap fleece has a loose, open weave that will shift all over as you sew.

Quality polar fleece holds its shape nicely, feeds evenly under the presser foot, and makes sewing a dream. For best results, feel along the cut edge of fleece fabric before buying. No loose looped fibers or gaps in the knit means no stretching headaches during construction.

Investing a few extra bucks in that quality fleece will pay off in the finished garment. Your efforts stitching up those plush fleece projects will be frustration-free and the end result will drape beautifully when made with good fleece.

Layout and Cutting Tips

Layout and Cutting Tips
When cutting fleece fabric for sewing projects, lay out your pattern pieces following the nap line to prevent stretching. Make sure to clean up lint and stray fibers after cutting each piece; this will help the fabric feed smoothly as you sew.

Use With Nap Layout

Lay those pattern pieces carefully, followin’ the nap line so the fleece won’t tug outta shape when you’re stitchin’. Use plenty of pins to anchor the fabric. Place ’em perpendicular to the cut edge; that holds the knit stable, keepin’ it from stretchin’ while sewin’.

Sharp new pins glide through fleece easily without snaggin’. Angle ’em toward the straight grain as you pin pleats and darts too, securin’ those shapes in place.

Sew slow and steady, followin’ chalked seamlines. Pull the top layer only, keepin’ the bottom still. Check pins constantly, removin’ any that shift before stitchin’ over ’em. Take your time and that unruly fleece will glide through your machine just right.

Clean Lint Before Sewing

For startin’ that fleece project, clean your machine real good. Them tiny fibers’ll gum up the works faster than molasses in January if ya let ’em. Change to a new ballpoint needle and lower the presser foot pressure. Wet a lint brush and scrub the feed dogs, hook, and bobbin area to capture stray fleece bits.

Keep tissues handy as you sew, wipin’ down the needle plate often to prevent fibers ballin’ up. With a spotless machine and the right supplies, you’ll breeze through sewin’ that cozy fleece creation.

Mark and Baste First

Mark and Baste First
You’ll wanna mark darts ‘n pleats on the wrong side before pressin’ to keep that fleece in check while sewin. Those markings help guide the fabric as ya stitch, preventin’ any stretch or distortion.

  1. Use a fabric marker or chalk to draw darts, tucks, and pleats on the wrong side of the fabric pieces.
  2. Consider basting darts ‘n pleats first to test the fit before sewin’ final seams.
  3. Press lightly along fold lines to set the shape before permanent stitching. Be gentle and avoid creases on that fleecy fabric.

A little extra prep with marking goes a long way for controlling stretchy fleece. With the guidelines established, you can sew worry-free knowing that fabric will behave. Just take it slow and steady. Them markings are your roadmap to sewing success with fuzzy fabric.

Use Ballpoint Needles

Use Ballpoint Needles
Fresh ballpoint needles glide smoothly through fleece, taming any tug that threatens stretching. As fleece fibers catch on sewing needles, the fabric drags, skewing stitching and distorting seams. But brand-new ballpoint needles easily pierce each fiber without grabbing. Their rounded tips practically skate over the surface of fleecy fabrics, preventing any skipping or snagging that leads to stretch.

Set in your machine, ballpoint needles gently ease fabric under the presser foot rather than forcing it. With smooth stabbing motions, they maintain complete control so fleece keeps its shape. Even stitching pressure feeds the material without any sudden tugs from faulty needles.

Trusty ballpoints conquer troublesome fabrics, so rely on their specialty shape for all your fuzzy projects.

Reduce Tension and Pressure

Reduce Tension and Pressure
You’d keep fleece in place when sewing by loosening the tension and reducing pressure underfoot, letting the fabric gently glide rather than forcibly feed. Like a mother bird warming her young, a lighter touch nourishes the fleece’s natural drape without overhandling its delicate fibers.

Set the machine tension low and adjust presser foot pressure down when working with fleece fabrics and soft materials prone to stretching, shifting, and distortion. This prevents the fabric layers from being tugged, pulled, or pushed out of shape as you sew fleece garments, accessories, home décor items, blankets, and st■ animals.

With less drag on the material, you can feed and guide the flexible fleece stuff smoothly, whether it’s lightweight shannon fleeces, plush sherpa fleeces, or cozy lambswool. Stitch by stitch, a gentle approach keeps the fabric relaxed and stabilized as it moves under the needle for professional results without frustration.

Reinforce Zippers and Buttons

Reinforce Zippers and Buttons
Gotta reinforce zippers and buttons on fleece to prevent stretching while sewing. Fleece’s stretchy nature and insulating properties make it perfect for lightweight fleece jackets and cozy blankets.

Stabilize the area by applying lightweight fusible interfacing strips or tissue paper behind zippers. Then hand baste the zipper in place through the interfacing before machine sewing.

For buttons, use strong thread and firmly knot it to provide a solid anchor in the fleece.

And always test closures on scraps first when sewing fleece garments and home décor to ensure a snug, durable fit.

Finish Seam Allowances

Finish Seam Allowances
You cannot sew fleece without finishing the seam allowances. According to one 2019 survey, over 75% of experienced sewists serge or zigzag fleece seams to contain the fibers and reduce bulk.

  • Serge seams with a 3-thread or 4-thread overlock stitch.
  • Zigzag stitch raw edges with a wide, dense zigzag.
  • Pink seam allowances with pinking shears.
  • Trim and bind edges with seam binding or bias tape.
  • Turn and topstitch narrow hems along cut edges.

Proper seam finishing prevents fraying and maintains the soft hand of the fleece fabric. Test different techniques on scraps before sewing your fleece project to find what works best. Finishing seams neatly will ensure your fleece garment or blanket has a professional finish.

Press Lightly With Steam

Press Lightly With Steam
Lightly steam press fleece as you sew to set stitches without imprinting creases. When pressing fleece, use a warm iron and light steam to avoid permanently creasing the fibers. Let sections cool completely before moving to prevent stretching. Press seams, hems, and other stitched areas with gentle upward motions.

Avoid using pressure, which can flatten the soft pile. Test press scraps first and adjust heat and steam as needed. To reduce bulk at hems, apply narrow double-fold bias tape or lightweight fusible interfacing.

Light steaming will set the stitches without excess pressing. Check garment fit frequently since over-pressing can distort the shape.

Regular pressing allows better control so seams lie flat and hems stay put. With a delicate touch, steam pressing keeps fleece from stretching while sewing.

Stay Stitch Crosswise

Stay Stitch Crosswise
You’ve pressed the fleece to set the stitches. Now stay stitching helps prevent stretching. Stay stitch 1/2 from raw edges perpendicular to the grain before cutting and assembling sections. This reinforces the crosswise fleece fibers prone to stretching when you handle and sew the pieces.

Pick up an interfacing at the fabric store to apply along curved necklines too. A lightweight knit interfacing fuses in place with just an iron. Or try a soft cotton broadcloth as a lining material. It won’t add bulk but gives structure like a fusible interfacing.

Stay stitching takes just minutes but saves headaches later. Simply sew long the cross-grain before sewing the seams.

Care Instructions

Care Instructions
To keep your cherished fleece creation looking fabulous, handle it gently while sewing, and follow the care instructions religiously after.

When laundering, turn garments inside out, and use a gentle cycle. Wash in cold water with a mild detergent.

Tumble dry on low, and remove promptly to prevent wrinkling. To freshen between wears, spot clean by dabbing stains with a damp cloth.

With proper care, your cozy fleece clothes and blankets will maintain their softness and keep you warm for many seasons to come.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What temperature should I use when pressing fleece?

When pressing fleece, use a warm iron temperature. Avoid high heat since fleece can shrink easily. Gently press the fabric without creasing seams or imprinting marks. Let the iron sit atop the fabric to warm it instead of sliding the iron across the surface.

How can I make fleece less fuzzy when cutting out pattern pieces?

Carefully tear away the excess nap using an old razor. Change blades frequently, as fleece quickly dulls them. Use sharp dressmaker’s shears and cut in a single pass. Place a paper towel under the pattern to prevent fuzzy bottom layers.

Weight patterns to prevent shifting. Use a rotary cutter and mat for straight cuts.

My fleece garment came out too small. What did I do wrong?

You likely stretched the fleece while sewing. Check that you used new needles, reduced tension and foot pressure, and avoided pulling the fabric as you sewed. Stay stitching and basting first helps prevent stretching. You’ll get a perfect fit next time by handling the fleece gently and carefully throughout construction.

Why does the fleece keep shifting when I try to sew it?

Fleece shifts easily when sewing because the fabric has stretch. Use a new ballpoint needle and polyester thread. Lower the tension and presser foot pressure to prevent pulling. Baste first to check the fit.

I don’t have a serger. What are some other options for finishing fleece seams?

You can finish fleece seams in other ways without a serger. Try a zigzag stitch, pinking shears, or overcasting by hand. A faux flat fell seam works too, by folding one seam allowance under the other. Whichever method you choose, reduce tension and presser foot pressure to prevent the fleece from shifting as you sew.


Don’t you just love how fleece laughs in the face of your best sewing efforts? Next time this shifty fabric has you tied up in knots, try some of the tips mentioned here. Baste your pieces together and handle this fickle fleece firmly yet gently, like a rambunctious toddler in need of a nap.

There’s no need to fleece yourself into thinking it will ever be as tame as cotton. Just stay calm and carry on, and you’ll have that fleecy fox under control in no time.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.