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Cuddle Fleece Fabric Tutorial

Handling and sewing cuddle fleece

This article was written by Linda from Sewing Bee Fabrics – an online fabric shop offering a selection of interesting fabrics, including cuddle fleece fabric, and free delivery in the UK.

Sewing with fleece

Cuddle Fleece fabric is a soft luxurious fleece which is available in lots of fun and pretty patterns. It is 100% polyester so should not shrink at all in the wash (although it is recommended all fabrics are pre-washed as a precaution if they will be washed during use). 

Sewing with cuddle fleece

Some cuddle fleece fabric patterns have an obvious right and wrong side. If you aren’t sure which is which, or want to aim for consistency, then try stretching the fabric – it has a tendency to curl under to the wrong side along the edges. The direction of nap (the direction the fluff is laying) needs to be considered as you don’t want to make a project where the fibres want to lie in different directions and catch the light differently – this is especially important on toy faces! 

It does not stretch on the length of the fabric grain (parallel to the selvedge edge) but will have some stretch on the width of the fabric (cross-grain) and diagonally (along the bias). Keep this in mind as you are cutting out your patterns. Because of the stretch, use more pins than you think you need when cutting out patterns and when sewing. Some people recommend reducing movement by using a rotary cutter to cut out their cuddle fleece. You can end up with a lot of fluff getting caught up in the cutting mat, so unless you are prepared to clean your mat, stick to fabric scissors.  

Fleece is a knit fabric so doesn’t fray, but keep in mind that the edges do shed fluff! It gets everywhere! So you may want to consider shaking your pieces off outside and having a hoover or dustpan and brush handy. As it doesn’t fray, you can leave raw edges. This is ok at the bottom of a pocket, but you may prefer not to leave a raw edge on a blanket. Once washed, the item will not shed any more fluff!

Tips for Sewing with Cuddle Fleece Fabric

Sewing machine feet

Because of the pile on the fabric as well as the ability to stretch and move, you may find you get better accuracy in sewing fleece by using either a walking foot, knit foot or roller foot. Take a look at the selection here. Use plenty of pins, sew slowly and consider hand basting if you need high accuracy for your pattern.

Don’t use an embroidery hoop on cuddle fleece as it can be difficult to make the pile stand back up uniformly after being crushed for a prolonged period.

Fleece has a tendency to curl under so it is recommended that you sew with a half inch seam allowance.

When sewing you might want to experiment with the stitch width. A wider width will usually be easier to work with. You will also need to clean the machine often, due to the fluff which has a habit of building up inside – especially around the bobbin. If you don’t, then it can cause thread tension issues and thread breakages.

If you want to applique on to your cuddle fleece, you may want to use a stabiliser behind the cuddle fleece, and a pin to help ease some of the pile out from under the applique after stitching so it gives it a fluffier appearance around the edges.

A universal needle should work fine, but you may want to consider sewing with a ballpoint needle due to the natural stretch of the fabric, especially if you are noticing any dropped stitches or stitch tension problems.

Machine sewing cuddle fleece

Cuddle fleece is bulky when sewn as two layers. This is great for snuggly scarves but may not be the appearance you would want on a collar, for example. In that case you may want to consider a thinner lining fabric to complement it instead. Overcast stitching might also be useful to compress the cuddle fleece edges to make seams less bulky.


Pressing and Washing Fleece

Cuddle fleece techniques

It is recommend that you never iron cuddle fleece as the heat can damage the polyester fibres as shown in the picture above. If you need to press, test a scrap piece first by pressing on the back of the fabric and with a layer of cotton fabric on top – use the lowest heat possible. Fleece will not hold a crease so pressing is not usualy required.

Machine wash on cool (up to 30 degrees) on a gentle wash setting. Adding an additional rinse cycle can help remove any detergent build up, which can keep it feeling softer. Avoid putting it in the same wash as any rough clothing or overfilling the machine to reduce how much abrasive stresses are placed on the fabric. This will also keep it softer for longer. Fleece also has a habit of attracting lint so if you wash with other high lint items such as towels, it may get caught up in the fabric.

If tumble drying, use the lowest heat setting.


Using Fleece

Backing a quilt with cuddle fleece

Cuddle fleece fabric makes a fantastic quilt or blanket backing. It is both warm and snuggly, whilst being lightweight and you won’t need to use wadding. It is recommended you use a fabric basting spray to reduce the amount of movement as you quilt your layers together.

Want to try and use cuddle fleece but don’t know what to make? Here are some ideas: 

  • Animal beds
  • Mittens
  • Scarves
  • Blankets
  • Baby car seat covers
  • Baby comforters
  • Quilt backing
  • Jumpers
  • Dressing gowns
  • Cushion covers
  • Hats
  • Pram foot muff
  • Toys