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Do you wash fleece prior to sewing?

sewluving | Posted in General Discussion on

This may have been adressed elsewhere but i’m not sure.  I always prewash my fabrics according to their type however am wondering if I really need to prewash fleece?  I do it but am not sure if I need to. 

Thanks in advance from Heather in Calgary


  1. byf | | #1

    I suppose it would depend on the fabric content. I have never prewashed Malden Mills' Polarfleece; it does not shrink or change its hand.

    1. sewluving | | #7

      I don't think we get Malden Mills fabrics here at Fabricland in Calgary.  Perhaps that is an American company or maybe I've just never checked.

      Thanks for your thoughts

  2. starzoe | | #2

    I always wash any fabric that will be washed in the end, so yes, wash the fleece. The hand will not change at all and it may become a little softer (and a little cleaner).

    1. sewluving | | #8

      That is what I have done as well but just thought I would toss out my question to see what others do. 

      Thank you

    2. ceekay | | #51

      I always serge the ends of my fabric before washing prior to cutting .Mind you there are chemicals and dyes to contend with.

  3. marymary | | #3

    You don't HAVE to prewash fleece, but I do.  You don't know where it has been, or the conditions under which it was produced.  I much prefer to know that I am working with fabric that is clean.

    1. sewluving | | #10

      Thanks, that is sort of why I wash all fabric as well.  We just never know where it has been on it's travels before we get it into our homes.

      Thank you

  4. MarieCurie | | #4

    Yes, absolutely.  I wash (almost) everything that comes into the house.  As a matter of fact, it goes from the car, out of the bag and into the laundry room without stopping.  I have young children, and all fabric that might get remotely near them--which is everything--gets washed to get rid of the dirt and manufacturing finishing.

    1. sewluving | | #11

      Thanks Marie.  I don't have young children but have two very young grands that I sew for.  I do like you do too.  From car to laundry then to the sewing room with fabrics.  Just thought I would get input from others.

      Thanks again

  5. Ckbklady | | #5

    Hiya! I do wash fleece but only to get the chemical smell off it so I don't get a headache when cutting it out. I find that all fleeces have this, from expensive to cheap.

    :) Ckbklady

    1. sewluving | | #12

      My nose doesn't work that well anymore so I have never noticed a chemical smell.  However, I used to like the smell of fabric when I would go into a fabric store.  I don't notice it much anymore but still get a funny excited but also calming (not sure how that works either) feeling when I go into a fabric store. It is sort of like I need a 'fix' every once in a while of entering and wandering the aisles of a fabric store.  Weird isn't it?

      Thanks Heather

      1. Ckbklady | | #13

        Oooooh, no! Not weird at all - the giddy thrill and happy calm of being in a fabric store is beyond compare! you're absolutely right!

        When I'm in a busy fabric store and the flustered cashier apologizes for my wait time, I always say, "Oh, no - I'm in no hurry to leave here. I could stand around here all day - this is the nicest place in the world!" Which makes my fellow shoppers giggle and the cashier exhale, usually. But I really mean it!!

        :) Ckbklady

        1. Ceeayche | | #14

          I've had a similar experience!

          Once I was in the fabric store and it was overcrowded at the cutting table and the salesperson was over flustered (a bad combination).  When it was my turn and she asked "how can I help you."  I asked her to "take a cleansing breath and stand quietly for 10 seconds."  She looked up startled!  I told her isn't this the most wonderful chaos in the world, all these colors all these fabrics all these possibilities?  I just love the fabric store.

          She visibly relaxed and the customers near me chuckled.  She said thank you.  I told her I wanted her relaxed and happy when she cut my fabric!


          1. KharminJ | | #18

            Thank you!!! from all the flustered, over-worked counter people everywhere!I've seen the most wonderful sharing among customers at the cutting counter - ideas, experience, coupons, and general camaraderie - one of the things that still make the job fun!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~{Just a reminder, all: Please, be sure to let corporate management know that by reducing staff to cut costs, they reduce your pleasure in shopping at their stores, and thus how much you spend ~ it all comes down to their dollars and cents, at the corporate level.}~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Re washing fleece: One thing that pre-washing almost any fabric does is relax the center fold and allow the grain to straighten, after the bolting-up process. I saw lots of fabrics pulled off-square throughout the bolt because they started that way in the middle.Try this experiment some time: run a basting thread up the center fold, before you prewash, and compare where the center line *really* is to where it was pre-folded - you may be surprised!Happy warm fleecy what-evers! and Bright Blessings ~ Kharmin

          2. sewluving | | #20

            Thanks for the headsup re:the fleece washing and the fold.  Hadn't thought of it relaxing that but you are right.

            Heather in Calgary

        2. sewluving | | #15

          There are even some times that I actually leave the store without buying anything.  Hard to do but I do.......LOL

          Heather in Calgary

          1. Ckbklady | | #19

            Get out! You do NOT!

            OK, if you really do, what's your secret? DH really wants me to know, LOL!

            :) Ckbklady (who has never seens a fabric store she didn't like)

          2. sewluving | | #21

            Yep, I really really do.  Not sure how but then I usually make up for it on other trips to the fabric store when I come out with my walker just loaded down.  No secret and not will-power either.........LOL 

            Heather in Calgary

          3. KharminJ | | #23

            TeeHee! Yeah, me too - I put book stores and fabric stores in the same category: "Avoid at all costs, unless you have hours and dollars to spare!"While I worked at JoAnn's, I had to build a pretty tough "I will NOT buy anything!" mantra into my going home routine - worked really well most of the time, but on the rare occasions when I let it down, I spent like a sailor! (The sale had to be pretty darn good to get that wall down, though).

      2. rodezzy | | #25

        Not weird at all to me.  I get antsy if I haven't been to a fabric or craft store in a while.  I go even if I'm not in the market for anything.  And when I do that, I just go up and down every isle and look, read and check out the books.  I sit down and go through the pattern books for the season and just hang out. 

        Sometimes I end up buying something, I'm always on the look out for new trims and buttons, notions and things.  Sometimes there's a piece of fabric I just can't live without.  It may end up on a doll, in a quilt, or a garment. I never know.  So I just visit and enjoy. 

        Then when I want to make something, I'm blessed to have a stash to go to, and maybe I don't have money at the time to go out and buy something I need.  So having a stash makes it better, I don't go through "withdrawal" when I want to be creative.

        1. sewluving | | #27

          Yes Rodezzy.  It is kind of like a calming fix for me.  LOL

          Heather in Calgary

      3. KharminJ | | #52

        Hey, Heather! Happy Sunday to you!

        I agree - not weird at all! I get that 'buzz' in the leather-goods store, too!

        Bright Blessings and Happy Holidays! ~ Kharmin

    2. robyn bradbrook | | #53

      What do you wash with to remove the chemical smell?

      1. Pattiann42 | | #54

        Chemical Smell

        Wash with whatever you plan to use once the project has been completed.  Airing the "fabric" outside can also help in removing odor.  If that does not work, try adding a cup of white vinegar to the rinse water.

        Fabrics are plastic wrapped at the factory.  However, I choose to pre-wash because they can become soiled when; fabric stores carelessly lay bolts on the floor, stick them unwrapped in their storage area, or when handled by customers.

        Fleece does not ravel, so there is no need to serge or otherwise finish the ends.

  6. woodruff | | #6

    Although I generally wash all my washable fabrics as soon as they come through the door, I don't wash Malden's terrific 200 wt or 300 wt fleeces, and I have noticed no shrinkage. However, I do prewash their very lightest fabrics, the ones that are used for underwear, because those become close-fitting garments and I don't need any surprises in that department!

    1. sewluving | | #9

      I have not noticed shrinkage on my fleece fabrics either but just wondered what others do in this case.


    2. cafms | | #16

      Is Malden Mills back in business?  I thought they had closed a couple years ago.  I couldn't get the website to come up.

      1. woodruff | | #17

        Mr. Malden lost his controlling interest. They are now called http://www.milldirecttextiles.com/Same nice fabrics. Get the swatch kits, though; the color illustrations on the site are so far off that it's ridiculous.

        1. cafms | | #22

          Thanks so much.  I bookmarked them again to look at later.  I have some swatch kits from several years ago.  Wonder if they are the same.  I'll have to contact them if I want to ored from the kits I have.  Tahnks again for the info.

          1. ljb2115 | | #34

            Laundering or dry cleaning any new fabric will relax it, get rid of any chemical smells and residue, and most shrinkage will be done with before fashioning it into a garment.  How many times someone has lamented that his/her garment was rendered unusable because of shrinkage?   Wool crepe is the worst.  Take it to the cleaners for the whole works.  It is worth the extra effort and cost.  Remind the cleaners to not hang fabric, but fold it carefully.  Also remind the counter person that this is wool yardage - not a tablecloth!  Actually happened to me - the order was listed as a tablecloth. One cleaner asked me what the order was and what would I do with it???  This was ten yards of wool crepe.

  7. cookymom | | #24

    I always wash fleece and then let it air dry.
    When my kids were younger, I bought many yards of fleece from a place in Manchester, NH, Levine's. Ivy suggested this treatment would minimize pilling.

    1. sewluving | | #26

      Thanks.  I like your screen name. 

      Heather in Calgary


  8. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #28

    All the other lovely posters are correct in their assessment of washing fleece. It will not hurt to prewash, but you do not have to. I prefer to prewash everything that I am going to wash for several reasons. It relaxes the fibres to aid in keeping it on grain. It removes any finish that keeps the fabric looking smooth on the bolt (but can cause skipped stitches.) Washing also removes any traces of dirt, and will show up any real markings or flaws in the fabric. The last reason is one most people do not realize. Some manufacturers/storage agents put an anti-rodent, anti-bug spray on or around stored fabrics, or the wrappings it comes in. I do not want to handle that. That is the source of the chemical smell you sometimes find in fabric stores. It is used most often around natural fiber fabrics, but I am not going to take any chances... With a return to more green methods of fabrication, and sensitivities people have to pesticides, the use of this is declining. I still wash anyway. Cathy

    1. sewluving | | #29


      I was one who forgot about the flaws that can show up in fabric when washed.  Thanks for the reminder.  I also heard about 'rodents' etc that can get onto or perhaps into fabric enroute to or maybe even in fabric stores.   Didn't want to really say that but since you have I agree with it.  That is one of the main reasons too that I wash fabric.  Just never know where it has been or what may have been on it. 

      We had a mouse (just one) in our house last year around Xmas, guess he figured it was too cold out so somehow got in.  Our first one EVER in any house I've lived in.  Thank goodness.  Guess my family figured I'd gone nuts as I put everything in storage bins.  Well, didn't think about fabric but my Mom said if we were looking for a second mouse or maybe even a family that I should check my stash as they just love to get into little warm, cozy storage places.  Thankfully we only had one and he decided the kitchen and then a plant pot near our very warm sunny sliding door was his place of choice.  We snagged him after 2 days...........ewwwwww, yuck. 

      Heather in Calgary  

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #30

        Rodents and other pests can carry diseases, and so do the feces. They also can carry fleas. I would want to wash anything that had a mouse anywhere near it. As distasteful a topic as it is, I would rather be safe than sorry. Cathy

        1. sewluving | | #31

          We never found any evidence of it being in the basement where I store my fabrics.  The little thing came in from thegarage and into the kitchen.  Hate them.

          Heather in Calgary.

          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #32

            I live in an old ontario farmhouse, and mice have always been a problem. That and the fact that it is a farm...ugh. You are lucky to have only experienced one, lol. :) Cathy

          2. sewluving | | #33

            Trust me.  I know.  LOL

            Heather in Calgary

          3. Gloriasews | | #35

            I had a one-mouse problem the year before last at Christmas-time, just like Heather had.  I do wash everything before I use it, especially if a mouse or insect has been even near it.  When I packed last year to move, I gathered up all my yarn & dumped it in a box.  When unpacking it, I found mouse droppings in the bottom of the box (eek!), so, obviously, that pesky mouse had been in my yarn basket beside my chair.  Now, I hate to even touch this yarn, but it's too much to throw away & what I brought with me were only the new balls, but they weren't wrapped in plastic.  Is there a way I can wash it now, carefully, & easily, without unwinding it?  Could it go into a mesh laundry bag without getting all tangled? What would you do?  I want to use the yarn now, but I sure don't want to handle it any more than I have to.


          4. starzoe | | #36

            A friend washes all yarn when it comes into her house: allergies. She makes a skein out of each ball, ties it in at least four places, gently swishes it around in the sink then hangs each one to dry. I have also done this will dirty yarn.....it takes a little while but well worth the time.

          5. Gloriasews | | #37

            What a great idea!  That way, it would dry fairly fast, anyway, because I was afraid of putting it in a dryer, as it might mat.  I've got some disposable gloves that I can wear when I do that, just so that I don't touch mouse germs :).  I never thought of washing it first when it's new, as well.  As you said, it will take time to form into skeins, but worth the effort.  Thanks so much for that info.  Why didn't I think of that? :)  Obviously, 2 heads are better than one!


          6. starzoe | | #38

            This is a common process used by knitters. It is a good way to recycle yarn from unravelled garments and often is used for yarns that are deemed to be hard to the hand until washed. Also, the reasons that fabric can/should be washed before using can equally be said for knitting yarn.

          7. Gloriasews | | #41

            Again, why didn't I think of that?  I've never washed new yarn, but it's completely logical, as I always wash new fabric.  As well, it's a great way to get all the kinks out of unravelled yarn to reuse.  Thanks so much for the suggestion.


          8. marymary | | #42

            Try a niddy noddy for winding yarn into hanks and reclaiming wool yarn.  Do a search and you will find all kinds of niddy- noddys.  I made one from PVC pipe that works really well and can be disassembled for storage and for removing the yarn.  The niddy-noddy measures the yarn as well as keeping it from tangling.  You tie the hank with small pieces of yarn or string before you remove it from the niddy-noddy.  To relax the yarn, submerge in cool water, then hang it with a weight inside the bottom loop to remove the kinks.  I use a water bottle.  When dry, I wind the hanks into balls or sometimes leave it in hanks until I am ready to use it. 

            I have never tried this on anything but a wool yarn, so I don't know how it works with synthetics.

          9. starzoe | | #43

            In my experience, it works on all types of yarns but quality wool usually is the only kind worth the work.

          10. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #39

            I agree with Starzoe on this. You can just wash the balls by tying them closed with string, but putting them in hanks works much better. I would wrap the balls in an old towel to squeeze the water out, then hang or drape the hanks to dry. They will dry quickly. A gentle breeze from a fan helps a lot!!!! I had a kitten make a mess in my knitting basket. A little bit of Borax helped remove the smell. I know it seems like a lot of work, but I actually prefer using hanks rather than balls when I am knitting or crocheting. I can see well ahead of time if there are knots to be dealt with as I go. Cathy

          11. Gloriasews | | #40

            I'll try that, Cathy.  Thanks for the suggestion.  Now, to find a place to hang them - I only have the shower rod.   I think I'd better shake the balls of yarn over the bathtub, in case there are mouse droppings inside (yuck), before I wash them.  (Then, I'll scrub out the tub :).   Am I becoming a germophobe what? :)

            I was surprised to have to sign in again to this thread - I thought that was supposed to have changed on the 16th or 17th.  The first message I replied to last night, I didn't have to sign in, but later, when I received another message, I had to.  Strange, eh? 

          12. jane4878 | | #44


            Don't shake or sweep anything with mouse droppings.  I would just wash them.  There's always the slight risk of Hantavirus.  Sorry to be a party pooper--I've seen a patient with Hantavirus (mice had gotten into his car and he contracted it through the heating/fan system) and you don't want to get it.  If you get a dust mask from a hardware store it should help.



          13. Gloriasews | | #45

            Thanks for the reminder.  Hantavirus was exactly what I was worried about, as I knew not to sweep or vacuum the droppings, etc.  I will be super careful.  If there are droppings at the bottom of the sink, I'll just wash the yarn again (shudder).  Those little critters don't realize the havoc they cause, eh? :)


          14. jane4878 | | #46

            I was never afraid of mice--I was the one that always emptied the mouse traps etc. Hantavirus did make me cautious though. We had an infestation a couple of years ago and I had empty and wash closets full of stuff. They messed in my stash too. Fortunately they didn't chew anything in the box they got into and the fabric was all washable. Filthy little monsters. When I had male hamsters I never had mice. I read that somewhere and it's actually true. However, I've had females for awhile and they don't deter anything.Jane

          15. Ralphetta | | #47

            It's been interesting reading this discussion. My old house is not air-tight so each fall I put a few traps in the basement as a precaution. A few weeks ago I was distracted and picked up one of the old wooden traps, not realizing it was "set." d'uh! My thumb hurt for almost 3 weeks. The wire hit right at the knuckle. I felt really stupid and was very grateful it wasn't my little finger.

          16. Gloriasews | | #48

            I didn't know that about male hamsters.  What a great mouse deterrent, eh?  Were the hamsters in their cages all the time?  Maybe they have a scent that mice don't like, yet the females don't.  Interesting!  Yes, we finally caught our mouse with a trap, quite fast, too, after all the time wasted on poison dishes that the pest man left, that didn't seem to affect them at all.  (My son emptied the trap :).  Yay!!!


          17. jane4878 | | #49

            One of my males was always escaping--he must've marked his territory. The hamster males drag their little scent glands all over the place. The females probably go into heat and attract the male mice.Prefer hamsters to mice though--1000 to one!Traps are my preferred method of catching mice. One of my female hamsters got into mouse bait and she almost bled to death. I fed her broccoli (high in Vit. K) and she pulled through. Once this current hammie goes,I don't think I'll have any more. My son was the one who had a long succession of them, but now he's in university and his sister neglects her and I end up taking care of her.

          18. Gloriasews | | #50

            So that's what the hamster does!  Again, interesting!  Yes, we prefer traps for the mice, too.

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