Friday, December 26, 2008

Hemming fleece

Fleece is very popular for no-sew projects like fringed blankets and scarves because it is easy to cut and doesn't fray. Since fleece is a knit, however, it tends to misbehave when it gets around a sewing machine. It wanders, warps, and stretches like crazy. Hemming can be especially troublesome. One of the most hilarious things I ever made was a fleece beret with a hemmed opening. The thing ended up twice the circumference of my head!

Fusible tapes like Stitch Witchery and Steam-a-Seam take all of the trouble out of hemming fleece. They give a perfect fold, and minimize stretching during sewing. I made a few throws/blankets as last minute gifts, and used 1/2" wide Steam-a-Seam Lite. I took a few pictures of the process so I could post a little tute :) .

The first step is to cut the fleece to the desired size. Fleece generally comes in 60" widths. For a big, squarish throw, I generally buy 1.75 yards and use all of it. For a tinier "lovie" size, a yard will be more than enough. Even if you use the full cut from the fabric store, you'll probably need to trim off the selvages and even up the cut edges.

Tear off a manageable length of the tape and align it with the edge of the fleece. Steam-a-Seam is self-sticking once the backing is peeled away, and can be finger-pressed into place.

Fold the edge over the width of the tape.

Set the iron to the absolute lowest temperature that can produce steam. Fleece is a synthetic material and can melt, so you might want to test the heated iron on a scrap. Place the iron on the folded edge and steam away. Leave last 2" or so unpressed so that you have room to work in the next length of tape.

Continue taping and pressing all the way down to the corner.

Resume the taping process at the folded edge. Continue until the entire perimeter is pressed into place.

Time to sew! Use a universal needle that is suitable for medium to heavy weight fabrics. A smaller/sharper needle won't make visible holes in the fabric, but it might skip stitches. For best results, use a zig-zag or a staggered zig-zag (my favorite) stitch.

I like to fold the edge over a second time before stitching. It gives a heavier edge (which is nice on a blanket) and hides any rattiness in my cut edges. For a garment (which is worn right side out), I would just stitch the single fold.

Stitch down the center of the fold. Just before you reach the corner, fold the next edge over a second time. You may have to lift the foot manually to get it up on the thick corner. Stitch until you reach the starting point.

And there you have it - a quick, easy throw/blanket that is sure to be snuggled and loved! This one was a gift for my brother and SIL. They have two little pugs, Pearl and Ethel, and are expecting their first non-fur covered child in March. I included an article on introducing the new arrival to the doggies. I highlighted the suggestion of wrapping the baby in a special blanket in the hospital, and bringing it home for the dogs to snuggle. They LOVED it!


Courtney said...

So quick and easy!

Very cute idea for your gift!

Cathy said...

Hi Carla,
I have been trying to post here for sometime. I had the wrong name....(insert rolling eyeball smiley here!) I wanted to say that I love all of the tutorials and you pics and posts!

Kris said...

Brilliant! I just laughed when you first talked about it because I know exactly what you're talking about with the fleece going all "skeewampus" on you. Thank you for the very informative tutorial!

BTW- I love the blanket you did with the pugs. What a thoughtful gift to give.

Anonymous said...

What a great gift idea C!! Thanks for posting an awesome tutorial, too. That is so helpful!

Susie Q said...

This is perfect. I need to do some fleece sewing but I hate doing the edges as I have no idea how...but this is just brilliant.

And thanks so much for your templates. I do need to go down to Kinko's and print them but I love them and they will be so handy.

Julie Kessler said...

Thank you so much for the tutorial. Do you have any advice for hemming t-shirts? Nowadays they are so-o-o-o-o long, and quite frustrating for short people!

Anne L said...

I just made a fleece vest-my first and the hem is curvy and I suppose, stretched. wish I would have seen this first! I will remember this for another time. Maybe will even try to redo this hem, but I dont know ... if it's already stretched, it cant be fixed, can it?

Monica said...

Thanks for all the tips! It looks as though the corners are square, not rounded. I guess this is necessary because of the tape?