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May I pop in and ask a fleece question?

AmyElliesMom | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

Hi, I usually post on Cook’s Talk, but I am a beginner sewing hobbyist, too.

I am making a blanket, sheet, curtain set for my daughter for Christmas, and I’m using a very soft fleece for part of the blanket.

She’s only two, and this is for a toddler size bed, and what I am doing is taking the fleece and sewing some cotton sheet fabric to the back of it so that she has the cool sheet side next to her, but the fleece will keep her warm. I am planning on “quilting” the pieces together by sewing them first like a pillowcase, sewing across the top with some decorative topstitching to close the blanket and then sewing in an “X” from each corner.

My problem is that the fleece is plain purple and rather “blah”. So, I thought it would look nice to sew a panel of co-ordinating sheet fabric to the front, about 6 inches from each edge of the fleece.

I had it pinned up and it looked very nice.

But when I sewed the panel to the fleece, it shifted somehow, and became crooked, ending with a large wrinkle in the fleece. I noticed this after I finished the first side, but decided rather than try to pick out an 20 inch long row of double zig zag stitching, I’d just call the angled look creative and quirky. It would have worked, except for the giant wrinkle in the fleece.

So, my question is how to keep the fleece from stretching and shifting under the cotton sheet fabric while I sew? I thought I had it pinned enough, but perhaps there is another trick? Was it the double zigzag stitch I used?

thank you for your experienced help. I really want this to be nice for her and not look “homemade” and shabby.

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  1. RobinL | | #1

    Something I've done to keep fleece to fleece from shifting that might work for fleece to sheeting - I spray the fabric with some of the sticky spray that is used to stick stabilizers to fabric for embroidery. What I've been using is called 505. You'll find it usually near the stabilizers in your fabric shop. Spray one fabric, put the other on it in place, and it will stick. The stickyness gradually evaporates with air, if there is any overspray.

    1. AmyElliesMom | | #2

      Do you think if I tried a bit of spray starch on the cotton, then stuck it and pinned it to the fleece, that might work?I've got tons of spray starch I will never do anything with, as I loathe ironing clothes.Also, what about some fusible interfacing? I have some very lightweight stuff laying around, too. Or would that make the blanket too stiff?

      1. RobinL | | #3

        Well, spray starch would make the cotton stiffer but would not make the fleece stop stretching. Lightweight fusible interfacing would also make one or the other stiffer. If applied to the fleece, depending on the interfacing, it might make it stop stretching and shifting, but as you say, it would make the blanket less soft. Some interfacings are made to stretch, too, so it depends on that. Fusible webbing might work like the 505 spray, but I don't know how high of an iron heat you need for it, and fleece doesn't do well with high heat. I'd still recommend the 505 spray - I use it for all sorts of things, not just embroidery and I'm sure you'll find uses for it too.
        Also, occurs to me, loosen up your pressure foot so it doesn't press down so hard on the fabric - that will also help prevent stretching.

        1. Beth | | #4

          Yes, the pressure foot pressure can be contributing to this. I second reducing it. More pins to hold the fabrics in place may work.


          1. AmyElliesMom | | #5

            Thank you both for your help.I will look for the 505 spray today at Joann ETC. The little JoAnn's by me doesn't have much of a selection, so I doubt I'll find it there. But, I'm going to be near a bigger one, so I shall have an excuse to wander, lol!

          2. suesew | | #6

            You might try a walking foot.

          3. chefeileen01 | | #7

            I love the 505 spray and use it regularily in quilting, (don't spray it on quilting fiberfil),  Also try a roller type pressure foot, but usually the 505 spray will be enough.



  2. kayl | | #8

    May I suggest a different way to jazz up the fleece and avoid the
    problems you're getting with sewing stretch to non-stretch?

    Double needle "sculpturing" works very well, if your machine will
    accept a double needle (they look like two needles on a plastic
    crossbar). If your machine has the bobbin in front of the needle
    instead of on the side, it can probably accept a double needle; it
    also needs to be able to do a zigzag... and the widest double needle
    you can use is the width of your widest zigzag stitch.

    Here's what you do:
    Set the machine for a straight stitch.
    Insert the double needle in the machine, and thread up with two
    spools of thread (or a spool and a spare bobbin you've wound)-- one
    spool goes to each needle. Bobbin set up is normal. Stitch length
    should probably be on the longish side... maybe 6 spi.
    On a piece of scrap fleece, sew a line of stitching and examine it.
    Now try another line where you've tightened the top thread tension.
    Examine that... Play till you get the effect you like. Practice
    following a curved line (I watch the edge of the foot, not the
    needles). When you're happy, you're ready to start.

    Now draw a design on your fleece with chalk, and sew the design
    with the double needle. Even something as simple as double needle
    following the edge of the comforter, but an inch inside the edge,
    and a second and third line of double needle stitching echoing the
    first looks pretty good.

    Or do her name or initials in the middle of the blanket...
    Or... or... or...

    1. AmyElliesMom | | #9

      My machine will accept a double needle, but I don't currently have one, and unfortunately can't afford one. Le sigh.I had thought about doing some decorative stitching, but I don't trust myself to make it look nice.I've seriously just graduated from doing only straight stitch sewing on the super easy patterns, so this is really the most ambitious thing I've ever done.I am making a nightgown for my mother, too, and the set in sleeves are scaring me, lol!

      1. kayl | | #10

        Ah, ok... well, that's a technique you might want to try out sometime.What's the pattern number on the nightgown? Maybe we can give you some ttips. I don't think I've ever seen a nightgown with set in
        sleeves. Most are gathered or raglan or dropped -- gathered sleeves hide all manner of sewing sins, and raglans and dropped sleeves
        are very easy.

        1. AmyElliesMom | | #11

          I'll have to dig the pattern out of the cat safe area, lol.I may have been mis-reading the pattern (it's one of those with obscure instructions mistranslated by elves from Mars), but when I first got done cutting out all the pieces, and read the instructions through, it looked like I had to make the whole body first, then do some fancy technique to get the sleeves in.Sleeves in general scare me, though, lol!I've made several very nice sleeveless tank dresses!

          1. kayl | | #12

            Let us know when you find it... we can probably help you translate.
            And sleeves aren't that hard when you've got a few tricks up your
            own sleeve -- and since I used to hate sleeves, I've got quite a
            few tricks to make them easier. <g>Thought of another decorative method with fleece that you could
            easily accomplish: couching. What happens here is that you'd
            take yarn and zigzag over it onto the fleece in some sort of design.
            You can match the thread color to the yarn (easiest to hide mistakes
            that way) or use contrasting colors.And you can make your own "yarn" with polarfleece: Cut a thin strip
            of fleece (maybe 1/4" wide maximum) along the crossgrain, then stretch
            it -- it gets long and thin and makes a fuzzy "yarn". You can also
            turn strips of this "yarn" into twisted cord, and use that for edging.
            If you search the Threads website for Rochelle Harper, there's a
            video clip of her twisted cord techniques. Kay

  3. User avater
    paddyscar | | #13

    Unfortunately the double zig-zag would have stretched out the fleece, unless you had a stabilizer behind it.  If you don't want to unpick the edge that emphasizes the twist in the fleece, you could just cut off the hemmed edge and hem the fleece and cotton as one fabric, or bind the edge with a cotton strip. 

    If it's the panel that has skewed the works, you might notice the twist less by removing the panel.  If you removed the panel, you could simply tie co-ordinating yarns through both fabrics to create some interest, while at the same time keeping the two fabrics together and reducing the impact of the twist.

    I know what you mean about the fleece seeming 'blah' because one I made for my granddaughter struck me the same way.  My solution was to add another 6 inches of the same fabrics to one end creating a decorative hem, so that the cotton folded over the fleece (and vice versa) creating a reversible comforter

    This is how I did some others for my grandchildren:

    * cut the cotton 2-3 inches larger than the fleece all the way around

    * center the fleece on top of the cotton on a table - it should look like a painting in a frame with the fleece being the painting and the cotton framing it

    * pin the two fabrics together smoothing the fabric, but not stretching it as you go - don't skimp on the number of pins you use

    * stitch the two fabrics together all the way around about an inch inside the edges of the cotton - use a long basting stitch and a walking or roller foot if you have one.  If you don't have either of these loosen the pressure on your presser foot and also loosen the tension on your needle

    * remove all the pins and you now have a flat piece of layered fabric with cotton on one side and fleece on the other

    * turn under a 1/4 or 1/2 inch hem along the raw edges of the cotton

    * fold the cotton to the front so that the hemmed edge of the cotton covers over the edges of the fleece and stitch in place

    * if you are new to sewing, you may want to do the two sides and then the two ends, rather than try to mitre the corners

    * at this point the fleece is backed by the cotton and the cotton wraps around to make a self binding, and the cotton sewn with the fleece will stop the fleece from stretching out.

    Hope this helps, and I apologize if it has become 'information overload'

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