Fabrics 101: Embroidering on Fleece


Fabrics 101: Embroidering on Fleece

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Fleece is an interesting and unusual fabric. It's lightweight and stretchy, but sturdy. It's a synthetic polyester which feels a little like wool, but it's much lighter than wool. And, it's great for sewing and embroidery projects, because it comes in an enormous variety of colors, weights, and thicknesses.

When choosing fleece for embroidery, choose a high-quality fleece.

Low-quality fleece may shift or stretch during the embroidery, and the design might become distorted.

To test the quality of the fleece, stretch it. High-quality fleece will snap back into shape, but low-quality fleece will remain stretched.

You can use a sharp, universal, or embroidery needle when embroidering on fleece. We use a size 75/11 sharp needle.

Fleece is stretchy, and some kinds of fleece are slippery, too, due to the polyester component.

We're going to use a piece of medium-weight cutaway stabilizer to back the fleece. To prevent any shifting during the embroidery we're putting a bit of spray adhesive on the stabilizer.

Put the stabilizer on the backside of the area that is going to be embroidered, and smooth into place.

Hoop the stabilizer and the fabric together. That will ensure "good registration" -- that's where the sections of the design line up where they're supposed to.

If you see gaps in the design, areas not connected, or your stitches are a little fuzzy and not crisp, that's "poor registration." It's usually due to the fabric not being hooped with the stabilizer, or the stabilizer being too light for the fabric.

Any marks left by the hoop will come out when laundering, as long as you're using a good-quality fleece.

All types of designs embroider well on fleece -- solid fills, sheer fills, even line work like toile. If you have a type of fleece that is exceptionally fuzzy with a high pile, then you can use a topping to hold down the stitches as you embroider. But generally, with most kinds of fleece, a topping isn't necessary.

In the example to the left, we are not using a topping with the fleece.

And here is the finished pullover, beautifully embellished with the deer design. You might notice a faint ring below the deer -- that's left over from the hoop, and came out with a little steam from the iron.

The deer design had solid fills. Next we're going to embroider a light and sheer design onto fleece.

Toile snowflakes are light and sheer, with few stitches. We're embroidering the design onto the fleece with one piece of cutaway stabilizer, a size 75/11 sharp needle, and no topping.

Having this delicate snowflake on a fleece scarf is a fun embellishment. You can see how fleece is great with both solid and complex designs, as well as light and sheer designs, like the snowflake.

If you have a very light design, like a redwork design, toile, or some graphic line art designs, then you can make the embroidery reversible.

Wind a bobbin with the same color thread that you'll be using in the top needle.

Use a heavy-weight water soluble stabilizer as a backing/stabilizer for the fleece.


Hoop the stabilizer, fleece, and a topping together. We're going to use a topping when working with the thin and light designs (redwork and toile) because those running stitches can sink down into the fleece too far, and the topping will help to hold them up during the embroidery.

Embroider the design, and when the embroidery is finished, gently tear the excess water-soluble stabilizer away.

Here's the front of the scarf - a light and lovely addition!

And here's the back! That's a great way to have beautiful embroidery any way you look at it, coming and going.

By following these tips and techniques you'll get excellent results when embroidery on fleece. Have fun adding embellishments to scarves, hats, blankets, pullovers, headbands, and more!

Stitching tips for fleece:

Needle 75/11 sharp needle; an embroidery needle may also be used
Stabilizer In most cases, use cutaway (2.5 ounce). If working with very light designs (like Redwork or toile), tear-away may be used. If using tear-away, use a sharp needle (not an embroidery needle).
Design Choice Any (but in some cases, running-stitch or Redwork designs may get lost in the fabric).

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