Sewing with Fleece - Needles and Thread Sizes

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Hey guys, my fiancee and I are trying to get better at making puppets and we were wondering what size needles and threads are typical for best sewing with fleece?  We're using anti-pill and blizzard fleece and we have a Singer machine we bought.  We use embroidery threads for hand-sewing often, but we're trying to figure out the best thing for fleece on the machine.

What do you typically use?

My apologies if this is already discussed elsewhere.

Billy D. Fuller:
Fleece is easy to sew using a machine. I usually use a universal needle, size 16, or Singer yellow ban needles #11,#14,#16 and a synthetic thread. I also use a clear mono-filament #.05 or #.06  I select a medium stitch length. I have heard that it may be helpful to loosen the pressure on the presser foot.

I found some other interesting facts below.


1: Always begin your project with a new sewing needle. Sewing on the fleece fabrics, dulls the
needles more often.
2: Use a universal, stretch or ball point sewing machine needles. Choose the needle size according
to the weight of the fabric. For most fabrics 80/12 will work. The thicker the fabric, bigger the size of
the needle.
3: Use a good quality 100% polyester thread. Cotton covered polyester threads are not that strong
for fleece and break often.
4: The thread should match the fabric or a shade darker.
5: Fleece fabrics may be difficult to sew because of the bulk. A seam ripper or an awl or a skewer
can help press down the fabric in front of the pressing foot. If the pile is not that thick, pressing with
just fingers helps.
6: Set machine for a slightly longer stitch (8 to 10 stitches per inch) or use medium stitch length
(2.5-4mm). I like to use either straight or a slight a narrow zig-zag.
7: Lower the presser foot pressure.
8: A walking-foot, or roller-foot will greatly help in the even feed of the both layers of the fabric.
9: Stitch slowly and carefully. Because ripping the seam is very hard.
10: ½’  length are good size seams. If the pattern calls for a 5/8” seams, sew and then cut the
seam allowances to reduce the bulk.
11: Or use serger.
o Select a wide 3- or 4-thread stitch.
o A 4-thread stitch squishes the fleece reducing the bulk.
o Use a longer than usual stitch length of 3 to 3.5mm.
o Reduce presser foot pressure.
< 12: Sew a test sample to adjust the pressure, stitch length or needle size.
13: When sewing around curved areas (such as necklines or armholes), stitch slowly and be
careful not to stretch the fleece as you guide it through the machine.

Out of the Box Puppets:
That is a lot of great information, Billy!

The way we do it will probably make the author cringe:  We use a heavy duty (blue jean type) needle for everything on the sewing machine and a universal medium weight for the serger.  We sew mostly fleece, spandex and poylester webbing (backpack straps).  I found it was much faster to just keep the same needle in for the heavy weight webbing as with the other fabrics.  Saves time from changing needles.  I haven't had any problems with pulling of the lighter weight spandex or slipping stitches.  It might have something to do with the type of machines.  Since we purchased higher end machines there doesn't seem to be a problem with anything.  I used a lower end Brother for years....only close to the end of it's life (last couple of years) did it start to ball up the threads, but at that time I wasn't sewing nearly as much a we do now. 

Because most of what we sew are blacklight puppets, we use black thread on darker fabrics and white or cream on lighter fabrics.  If we are making a non blacklight puppet then I will use matching color thread for seams that might show.  My understanding of a walking foot is for fabrics that have a tendency to slip or slide while sewing them. Ex...soft, silky or furry fabrics.

As far a changing needles before starting a new project....We sew hundreds of pieces before ever having to change needles. 

For hand sewing I have found that I prefer the thinnest needle about 2" - 2 1/4" long.  Most of what I'm hand sewing would be fleece or fur.  Just preference.  I use quilting thread to hand sew.


Billy D. Fuller:
Julie what size is a blue jean needle............... or is that what it is called?


Out of the Box Puppets:
Actually it looks like we are currently using needles for leather (90/14) and a blue jean needle (100/16). 



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