A Beginner’s Guide to Cotton Fleece Fabric

Cotton fleece is a soft and fuzzy fabric comparable to the fleecy wool of sheep, though this kind of fleece comes in different fibers. The fabric has a good insulating property, making it suitable for cold weather.

Fleece is usually made from synthetic fibers like polyester, but the cotton fleece fabric, as it sounds, is made from cotton.

One notable difference between fleece made from synthetic and natural fibers is that cotton fleece is more breathable.

Cotton Fleece Fabric Properties

Purple Cotton Fleece Fabric

Some claim that the other name for cotton fleece should be sweatshirt fleece since they are mostly used to make sweatshirts and sweatpants.

Cotton is usually blended into polyester fleece to make hoodies and coats. Unlike wool which can retain water in large quantities, cotton fleece retains less than 1% of its weight in water and retains some of its insulation properties even when wet.

There are certain characteristics of cotton fleece, and fleece in general, which primarily include its lightweight property, which is important if you prefer to don free and comfortable clothing.

Warmth is another unique feature since cotton fleece fabric is made specifically to imitate the fleecy nature of wool. Cotton fleece fabric has a pile surface on each side, and on these sides, there are layers of cut fibers that help to retain more heat than normal.

And since cotton fleece doesn’t pill or fray easily, you can use it for a long period as long as you properly care for it.

Cotton fleece is usually made from cotton, and if the fleece producers want the fabric to possess certain properties like increased breathability and better looks, they add natural fibers like wool, hemp, etc., to make up for what polyester may lack.

Cotton Fleece Fabric Production

Most types of fleece are made from artificial fibers. Cotton fleece is produced from cotton, a natural fiber, and the fabric can be knitted to produce a stretchy fabric or be woven. While polyester fleece is a good choice, cotton fleece is better for the environment’s sake.

The fibers are woven into yarn, knitting these yarns into the cotton fleece fabric.

Firstly, the dried yarn is passed through a mechanical knitter called a circular knitting machine which helps bind the yarns into a continuous tube of cloth.

The cloth is then passed through a napper machine, which is brushed to give it the fuzzy texture that fleece usually possesses.

The napper runs mechanical bristles on the fabric, which helps to raise the surface of the textile. The fibers are further passed through a shearing machine which helps to make the fibers softer.

The shearing machine uses a precision blade to remove the fibers raised during the napping process. The fabric is coated to make it more waterproof, or a chemical finisher is used to maintain the texture of the fabric.

The cotton fleece fabric is now cut into different lengths depending on the customer’s preference. It is then wrapped around boards and sent to the garment manufacturer (the lengths of cloth wrapped around boards are called bolts).

A Brief History of Cotton Fleece Fabrics

Cotton fleece fabric was created in 1979 and was made to offer the same warmth that wool offers while leaving out its weighty feature.

In the 1970s, a company known as Malden Mills was known for its production of faux fur and wool outfits. They wanted to recreate a fabric with the same insulating power as wool but lacked the problems that came with using wool, such as its weight when wet and the availability of sheep.

Aaron Feuerstein, the company’s owner, invested in creating the fabric, which launched in 1981, and registered it with a patent under the brand name “Polartec Climate Control Fabrics.”

Malden Mills partnered with outdoor clothing company Patagonia, and they produced the first application of cotton fleece, which they called Synchilla fleece (fleece jacket model).

Cotton Fleece Fabric Types

Brown Cotton Fleece Fabric

There are several types of fleece: terry cloth, Sherpa, microfleece, polar, lycra spandex, etc. However, the most common types are polyester and cotton fleece.

Cotton fleece fabric has many of the advantages of wool, and fewer of its disadvantages, especially the allergic reactions that could be seen in the fabric. 

Cotton fleece can be made from 100% cotton and blends of cotton and polyester. 

In general, there are two types of cotton fleece, and they are; 100% cotton fleece and blended cotton fleece.

  • 100% cotton fleece

This type of cotton fleece makes use of only cotton to produce cotton fleece, and no synthetic fiber is added to it. This pure fabric is the most common type of cotton fleece.

The fabric is a natural fiber alternative to synthetic fibers and is usually a good choice for people who prefer the texture of cotton.

  • Blended cotton fleece

This smooth-outside, plush-inside fleece manufactured from cotton blends is the best choice for sweatpants and sweatshirts.

This type of cotton fleece can be mixed with 60% cotton and 40% polyester, 80% cotton and 30% polyester, 35% cotton, and 65% polyester.

What’s The Difference Between Cotton Fleece and Other Types Of Fleece

Cotton and polyester fleece are among the most widely used fleece fabrics. Fleece comes in a wide variety, from polar fleece to spandex fleece to french Terry fleece to microfleece.

These fabrics are not all equal in terms of temperature regulation, airflow, durability, and ease of wear. Cotton fleece is more breathable, and cotton is a generally comfortable fabric, but polyester and poly-blend fleeces tend to be warmer, more durable, and better at wicking moisture.

A fabric’s ability to keep out cold air is another factor in how warm it feels to the touch. So, cotton fleece is the better option because you might overheat in polyester during the warmer months. That said, polyester fleece or a poly/cotton blend is the better option for keeping warm in the winter.

Polyester fleece is also commonly less expensive than cotton fleece.

Stretchy spandex fleece is made primarily from cotton, with a small percentage of spandex. It is common in fitness clothing for women and kids.

Microfleece is a thin, comfortable fleece fabric that’s efficient at keeping you dry. When compared to microfleece, polar fleece is significantly thicker and warmer. In colder climates, it is commonly used to make blankets and outerwear.

What’s the Average Cost of Cotton Fleece Fabric Per Yard?

When choosing the best fleece to purchase, be sure to know the properties of the different types of fleece before choosing.

Cotton fleece usually costs about $5-60 per yard. Cotton fleece tends to shrink, so pick out the best choice of fleece depending on the type of garment you plan to sew.

Things like fleece weight and thickness, fleece price, pilling property, and recovery after stretch are some features to consider when picking the right cotton fleece fabric to purchase.

Applications Cotton Fleece Fabric Is Used For? 

Because of its softness and breathable nature, cotton fleece has so many uses. Some of which include; 

  • Clothing purposes

The most obvious application of any fabric is to make clothing. So, cotton fleece, is used to make all sorts of clothing, especially warm clothing, and it can also be used to make diapers.

The fabric is also used to make scarves, hoodies, jackets, ear warmers, earmuffs, hats, cardigans, sweatshirts, etc.

  • Beddings

Due to its breathability, cotton fleece fabric makes bedding cool and comfortable, making it a popular choice for producing items like coats, bedding, blankets, etc.

Cotton fleece fabric is also excellent during the summer months due to its fuzzy touch and rigid fabric construction. 

  • Sportswear

Fleece fabric is also a good option for making sportswear since it helps keep the athletes’ body dry and, at the same time, allow their bodies to breathe through the fabric (breathability feature).

Fleece is the best alternative to wool, and it is just as warm but lighter.

Some Cotton Fleece Fabric Care Tips To Follow

Cotton fleece is easy to maintain and gets better as time goes by.

Since cotton fleece hardly ever wrinkles, you don’t have to worry about a wrinkled garment now and then.

  • A home wash and tumble dry are enough to keep your cotton fleece fabric clean and shiny. However, it is always advised to always check the care label of your fleece first for further instructions.
  • Cold water should be used to wash the fabric, and there is no need to dry clean it. And when machine washing it, set it to the delicate wash mode.
  • Don’t wash your cotton fleece fabric with other dark-colored garments. It is best to separate them.
  • Also, it is best to air dry your cotton fleece fabric rather than a dryer since fleece doesn’t like heat.
  • It’s advisable not to use bleach and fabric softeners in the washing machine while washing fleece since it can damage the fabric.
  • After drying the cotton fleece fabric, you can store them in cool, dry areas of your drawers or hang them carefully. 
  • Also, you shouldn’t overwash the fabric, as that can cause the fibers to slack. 

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