Admittedly, wool is a common fabric compared to fleece, and many who have heard of fleece may not even know about its properties. Wool and fleece are warm fabrics with some similarities and differences in their texture, uses and application, and production process. Let us consider some of these similarities and differences and how best to care for and maintain wool and fleece.
Production of Wool and Fleece
Wool and fleece share similar production processes, depending on the type of wool or fleece being produced.
Wool is the curvy and soft hair forming the coat of a sheep or goat, and it is the soft underfur or down of some mammals. Textile manufacturers make wool fabrics by shearing sheep once a year, either by hand or computer, before grading and sorting them for quality.
The sheep’s wool is then cleansed to remove dirt, sand, grease, and other impurities. They are then passed through a series of metal teeth to straighten and blend them in a carding process. It then passes through the spinning and weaving stage; textile workers spin the fibers together to form one strand of yarn. Textile workers then weave the wool into the fabric; before submitting the wool to the finishing stage, which involves fulling and crabbing. Sometimes, the wool is also dyed.
Some fleece materials share a similar production process with wool; this form of fleece, also known as fleece wool, is the whorly coverings of a sheep or goat. Fleece wool is obtained from a sheep during shearing. However, sometimes fleece is not entirely natural. It can be made of polyester, cotton, hemp, and rayon fibers to give it a better texture and vibrance.
More recently, recycled plastics have become a major source of fleece fabric. The production of these fleece types starts with shearing and sorting. The sorting stage is vital because different wool produces different quality of wool. It is then put through a willower to remove impurities and untangle the wool.
Then comes the carding, winding, and spinning stage. Carding helps to make the fleece soft and disentangled, while spinning pulls and twists the fibers together to form a single thread. Finally, there is the warping, weaving, and finishing stage. Production depends on the different types of fleece the manufacturer wishes to produce.
The Similarities and Differences in Wool and Fleece Texture
Wool is comfortable, hairy, and soft though it can be a bit itchy; wool is also lightweight. Wool fabrics can hold their shape and last for a long time while being naturally elastic and stretchy. Most Wool materials are durable and resistant to tear.
Similarly, fleece is soft and can provide a warm and soothing feel to the body. Since it is not only made from natural fiber, the polyester and other fiber added to it prevent the fleece fabric from itching.
Other Noteworthy Properties of Wool and Fleece
Wool fabrics are warm because they have low heat conductivity, which makes them suitable for cold weather. They are water-repellent as well. Wools are highly absorbent and can soak up to 20 percent of their weight in water before leaking. However, wool has poor dimensional stability; hence it shrinks easily under mechanical action, friction or pressure. Also, prolonged exposure to UV radiation tends to discolor the fabric.
Fleece, on its own, is resistant to water and moisture because of the combination of polyester. This property makes it easy to dry out after washing the fabrics and is also ideal for extreme weather conditions. It is also breathable and wrinkle-resistant.
A Review of the Differences and Similarities of Wool and Fleece.
Here is a brief rundown of some properties of wool and fleece and how they compare with each other:
- Fleece is a synthetic fiber, while wool is natural.
- Wool production is more environmentally friendly than fleece.
- Fleece is lighter in weight than wool.
- While wool can be a bit itchy, fleece is not and has a softer feel.
- Fleece does not insulate when it is wet, but wool is capable of insulating even when wet.
- Fleece is non-biodegradable, while wool is biodegradable.
- Fleece dries more quickly than wool.
- Wool and fleece are both warm and give a comfy feeling.
- They are both soft and breathable fabrics.
- They are both used extensively to make fashion products and household items.
Uses and Application of Wool and Fleece
Wool is used in making beddings such as blankets, duvets, and pillow covers. They are also useful in producing clothes like jumpers, uniforms, gloves, saddle cloth, horse rugs, and hats. Wool also serves industrial purposes like upholstery, cushion, carpeting, rugs, etc.
Coats, scarves, and blankets are made from fleece because of their warmth, and they also make blankets, hats, sportswear, and hoodies. It is ideal for athletic wear because it wicks sweat and moisture away from the body.
Care and Maintenance of Wool and Fleece
Before caring for any wool or fleece material, please read the care labels to know the best way to maintain them.
- Wash in cold water to avoid shrinkage.
- Wash with mild detergent and flat dry because hanging wool could make them stretch and lose its shape.
- Carefully protect your fabrics from moths by placing them in a wool bag after drying.
- Direct heat damages wool as it changes the shape and color of the garments; this is why it is also not advisable to hot press it.
- Wash fleece in cold water because of its vulnerability to high temperature
- Machine washing is not ideal for fleece fabrics, but if you must wash with a machine, ensure it is on a delicate cycle.
- Avoid fabric softener and bleach when washing fleece
- Air dry your fabrics and avoid hot pressing them.
- Use a microplastic-catching wash bag to keep your wash environmentally friendly.
Though their process of production might be a little different, they are both used for clothes to keep the wearer feeling warm. They are also used to make bedding and even sportswear due to their unique features. These features make them a necessary fabric to add to your collections.