What is fleece fabric?

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Material Guide: How Sustainable is Fleece?

Fleece – a cosy, soft fabric that keeps us warm through winter and in the great outdoors. But have you ever wondered what impact our fleece jackets might have on the planet? We ask, how sustainable is fleece?

What is fleece?

Fleece is a synthetic insulating fabric made from a type of polyester called polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or other synthetic fibres. It is very comfortable due to its light weight and anti-perspiration qualities, and allows moisture to evaporate, while blocking humidity from the outside. It is breathable and fast-drying, which makes it perfect for sportswear and winter clothes. As it uses only synthetic fibres, fleece is also a vegan alternative to wool.

A brief history of the fabric

In the late 1970s, Malden Mills, an American textile maker now known as Polartec, began experimenting with polyester’s potential.

In 1981, the company introduced fleece to the sportswear market thanks to a collaboration with Yvon Chouinard, owner of a then-little-known mountaineering outfitter called Patagonia.

The first-generation of fleece was called Synchilla, and within a decade it was used widely in sports and outdoor clothing. Fleece became trendy for its lightness, warmth, colourfulness but also for its relative inexpensiveness and completely changed the way we dress for cold weathers. Fleece technology is continuously improving, the yarn is now as fine as cashmere and can even be made from recycled plastic bottles

What are the environmental impacts of fleece?

Generally speaking, fleece is made from non-renewable resources and needs an extra chemical coating to make it windproof and/or water resistant – not great for the environment. What’s more, fleece can only stand so many trips through washing machines and dryers before showing signs of wear meaning it has to replaced relatively often.

Eco-fleece, using recycled polyester, can be seen as a better option saving its primary ingredient – raw petroleum – as well as energy. It also potentially reduces the number of bottles in landfills.

But synthetic fibres, recycled or not, pose a problem as they do not biodegrade and tend to bind with molecules of harmful chemical pollutants found in wastewater, such as pesticides.

What about microfibres?

A recent study from the University of California at Santa Barbara and funded by Patagonia found that, on average, synthetic fleece jackets release 1.7 grams of microfibres each wash, or as many as 250,000 synthetic fibres and that older jackets shed almost twice as many fibres as new jackets. Even when companies use recycled plastic bottles to make their fleece, research indicates that the plastic might ultimately end up in the oceans.

Those synthetic microfibres are particularly dangerous because their size allows them to be consumed by fish and other wildlife, going higher and higher up the food chain, concentrating toxins, until they reach us.

Although fleece is a lighter and less-scratchy alternative to wool, its impact on the planet and eventually on animals and consumers make it not such a great option! So when looking for warm clothes, try and stick to natural fibres!

What is Fleece? Different Types of Fleece Fabric

Plaid is a pattern most commonly made from warm materials, among which, is fleece. Just like plaid, fleece is also versatile, but more importantly, it’s another common material from which plaid shirts are often made. Today we dive into the world of fleece–its composition, its variations, and other things worth knowing about this wonderful material.

Table of Contents

What is Fleece Made of?

These days, it is easier to find fabrics, like fleece, be made from polyester, a kind of inorganic fiber. However, we can classify the components of fleece into two major categories (1) organic fiber and (2) inorganic fiber.

Fleece made from organic sources is usually from sheep fur or wool. Organic fleece can also be made from cotton or a blend of the two.

Alternatively, fleece that is made from an inorganic fiber called polyester, which in turn is made from plastic. This plastic is made to undergo a process that turns it into threads. Once this plastic has become threads, they are woven and then brushed which gives the fleece a fluffy appearance.

What is Micro-fleece? Is Fleece a Cotton?

In our previous post, we discovered the many varieties of plaid and similarly, fleece has its own many varieties as well. Among which is micro fleece. Unlike the old days, fleece were heavily made from wool, but thanks to technology, fleece is also created from cotton and/or polyester. Let’s take a look at the many varieties of fleece:

Different Kinds of Fleece

Micro fleece – Mothers who use environmentally friendly or washable diapers are often met with micro-fleece. Micro-fleece is a kind of fleece that is thin (hence the term, micro) and brushed on both sides. It’s often used for nappies because it’s great at repelling water from the body. Other uses of micro-fleece include washable menstrual pads. It’s a perfect use for fleece because of its soft and plush texture that won’t scratch the delicate skin surface.

Micro fleece fabric

Polyester Fleece – Polyester fleece is the most common kind of fleece in the market today. These days, polyester has been the most commonly used material for any kind of garments thanks to its cheap production costs. Polyester often has a shiny appearance and since this is made from plastic, it does a great job of repelling moisture.

Polar fleece fabric

Cotton fleece – is another common kind of fleece that is available in the market. Cotton is an organic kind of material that is harvested from plants. When made into fleece, they are commonly turned into clothes that warms you up. Cotton or cotton-blended fleece is usually soft and comfortable and is often the material for baby garments.

Cotton fleece fabric

French Terry Fleece – French Terry Fleece can be easily characterized by the more woven look of the fabric. It is not brushed and usually doesn’t have the fluff that one might expect from fleece. It is lightweight, absorbent, and moisture repellent. It is heavier than a t-shirt but lighter than most sweatshirts. Most of the time, this kind of fleece is made from polyester, rayon, cotton or cotton-blend or even organic fibers from cotton or soy.

French terry fleece fabric

Lycra-Spandex Fleece – Lycra-spandex is a make of fleece that makes it a little more stretchy. It is majorly composed of cotton but it has been added with a little bit of Lycra in order to create the different dimension of the fabric. It’s widely used in women’s clothing and for performance wear.

Lycra spandex fleece fabric

Sherpa Fleece – Sherpa fleece is made from 100% polyester and looks very puffy. It looks almost like a replica of wool fleece. This kind of fleece is added as a lining in jackets for additional warmth.

Sherpa fleece fabric

Coral Fleece – Most of the time, coral and polar fleece tend to be mistaken for each other. However, coral fleece always ends up becoming furrier and more expensive than polar fleece due to its softer nature.

Coral fleece fabric

What Does Fleece Mean?

Fleece has its origins in Old English words fleos and flies, which literally means “fleece, wool, fur, sealskin”.

The word fleece is just like all other words before whose origins are most likely based on where people got them. Fleece might have been one of those materials that is the outcome of wool or fur and has carried on to modern vocabulary usage.

What Does Fleece Feel and Look Like?

To describe how fleece feels and looks like, it’s best to imagine the softness of cotton and the texture of yarn. Fleece that is made from cotton or a combination of cotton and wool will be very soft to touch and feel. It can also give off a very warm feeling to the wearer hence its use in many sweatpants, sweatshirts, and baby towels.

In general, fleece is furry and a little bit thick to touch this is because the material is brushed. It almost looks unfinished!

What Can You Do with Fleece?

You can do many products with fleece. Aside from the fleece jackets and towels, here are varieties of projects you can do with fleece:

Fleece Jacket

Sportswear manufacturers often use fleece as the main material for their sports jackets. This gives their wearers additional warmth especially for people who don’t like missing their workouts even with the colder weather.

Colombia men fleece jacket

If you zoom in closely in this ad for Columbia Fleece Jacket, you will see the plaid shirt that the model is wearing underneath, but more importantly, zooming in gives you an idea of how fleece can be easily distinguished, for its furriness and soft-towel textured look.

Nike women Tech Fleece jacket

In this fleece jacket from Nike, you can see clothing engineering to ensure the softness and warmth of fabric. Aside from that, this fleece jacket is made out of quality cotton that is made to withstand any rain or precipitation and keep wearers warm.

Fleece Blanket

Since fleece gives off a warm feeling, it’s certainly is one of the best materials to use for blankets. Here are some fleece blankets available on Amazon to keep you warm and cozy while the weather is still breezy.

Fleece Flannel sherpa throw blanketEddie Bauer Edgewood Plaid Flannel Blanket

Fleece Shirt

Fleece fabric is another popular fabric that is made into plaid shirts. it can actually go head to head with another popular fabric for plaid, which is flannel. Both create a warm feeling for its wearers and are both soft and comfortable to wear. Check out some of these plaid fleece shirts below:

The American Outdoorsman fleece shirt jacket

This Plaid Sherpa Fleece Shirt Jacket from The American Outdoorsman is a great combination of form and function. From the outside, it looks like your ordinary shirt, but the way it was made is to replicate that of a jacket.

This Performance Shirt Jacket has a plaid print that’s very close to the Black Watch Tartan, the official tartan of the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Performance fleece shirt jacket

Whether you buy your plaid in fleece or flannel, you will surely be kept warm and cozy, thanks to its soft fabric and plush materials. Getting cold while looking fashionable is a thing of the past all thanks to thee warm fabrics. For more trivia on plaid, do check out our article 25 Facts About Plaid That You Didn’t Know Before. Be a plaid lover and share this article to your friends and family!

How is fleece made of plastic bottles?

Do you know what happens to the plastic bottles after you dispose them? Yes, they are recycled to make a lot of things. Maybe, bottles again, plastic packets, containers and various other things. Or maybe, they are turned into a fabric you can wear. Strange is it? …Absolutely not. Plastic fabric or fleece as it is called is made from recycled plastic bottles. But, how is fleece made of plastic bottles? It is an extensive process, definitely but it is definitely worth it. Generally, it takes about 25 disposed plastic bottles to make enough polar fleeces for an adult to sew a piece of clothing out of it.

Fleece is very similar to wool. Rather, it has all the qualities of wool but it weighs much lighter. So next time if you plan to get warm clothing for yourself, let the sheep have their woolens. Go for polar fleece. Fleece is made from recycled plastic bottles and petroleum. And without a doubt, the material is highly flammable. But, being comfortable, light weight and water resistant, fleece is becoming very popular these days. To explain in easy words, polar fleece is made by forcing liquid plastic through tiny holes. When the plastic cools, they become threads, which are then used to make fabric.

In reality though, the process is a little complicated. Firstly, disposed plastic bottles are sorted out according to color. They are then sterilized and any foreign material is removed. These plastic bottles are then liquefied under high temperatures ranging more than 250oC. Terephthalic acid, which is derived from petroleum, is made to react with another petroleum derivative that is ethylene glycol under very high temperatures to create polymer. This is virgin plastic, which is then mixed with the liquefied plastic. When the mixture cools down, it becomes like syrup, which is then ready to be made into threads. The liquid is then forced through a metal disk with holes. It is called the spinneret. When the liquid comes in contact with air, it hardens to become thread like substances.

These threads, called tow are then wound around a warm spool. The tow is made to go through another process, called drawing. This process makes the polyester fleece strong and durable. The threads are made to go through a drawing machine, which pulls it to more than double its size. After the pulling, the tow goes through a process, where the threads are shrunk and the fabric gets a soft structure. These processes strengthen the molecular bonds in the fabric. The tow is now ready to be dried and inspected. As the threads pass through the drier, they get the texture very similar to that of wool. Each strand is inspected for uniformity and made into balls, very similar to what you see made from wool. The fabric is complete. What comes after this is dying and knitting. Knitting makes cloth out of the polyester fleece threads.

The cloth may go through an optional process of napping, which is also responsible for giving texture to what we know as velvet. The fabric may also be sprayed with a waterproof substance, but that is optional too. There you have it, your soda bottle turned into cloth. Scientific innovations have definitely changed the concept of fabric. Polyester fleece can warm you even in the most extreme conditions, which wool cannot.

What is Fleece?

Fleece is a man-made wonder product, if there is such a thing. Despite being named after the ‘fleece’ coat on a sheep, it’s 100% synthetic and derived from plastic rather than a fluffy sheep’s coat – despite being fuzzy to the touch. The super soft, warm and breathable nature of this magic material makes it perfect for outerwear and all things cosy.

What is Fleece Made From?

Typically, fleece is created from polyester (which comes from plastic). The fibres of polyester are woven into a light fabric which is brushed to help the fibres increase in volume. Occasionally other natural fibres are incorporated into the fleece such as wool, hemp or rayon to create a certain texture or vibrancy of the fabric. Fleece can also be made from recycled plastics such as plastic water bottles, giving it an eco-friendly edge whilst being inexpensive.

How is Fleece Made?

For polyester fleece, the polyester fibres needs to be made first. This is created using a chemical reaction involving petroleum and petroleum derivatives. The chemicals are heated until they form a thick syrup, which then hardens and is spun to form threads. Because of the structure of the fibres, fleece is extremely warm and breathable and allows air to flow through it easily.

Characteristics of Fleece

The characteristics of fleece make it incredibly useful for keeping warm, particularly whilst being active. Fleece has a pile surface on both sides of the fabric, meaning each side has a layer of cut fibres. Air pockets can sit between the threads in this pile surface, meaning the material can hold in that bit more warmth.

Not only is polyester fleece warm and durable, but it is moisture resistant making it ideal for extreme weather conditions or for sportswear which it became popular for in the 1990s, due to it being warmer than wool and much lighter to wear.

What is Fleece Used For?

Fleece has been used for everything from ear-warmers for baby calves, to underwear for astronauts. It’s versatility makes it one of the most commonly used fabrics in the textile industry today.

As mentioned, fleece is the ideal material for athletic garments. The cloth wicks perspiration and moisture away from the body, keeping athletes dry, while letting air circulate through the fibres. It has also been known to keep odours from sweating at bay!

The short pile fabric increases the body temperature when it’s against the skin, making fleece the go-to fabric for warming Winter garments. Coats, scarves, gloves, blankets are often made from this lovely cosy material to create long-lasting and extra warm Winter wear.

Fleece Origins

Fleece originated in the 1970s when Malden Mills developed polyester fleece, which was the basis on which all modern fleece was created. Malden Mills was previously known for producing faux fur and wool garments, and the company wanted to replicate the insulating nature of these fabrics without the issues that come with natural wool (e.g. being wet when heavy, and needing sheep to create it).

Malden Mills partnered with outdoor clothing company Patagonia, together deubting Synchilla fleece – a strong, pile fabric made to imitate wool.

The owner of Malden – Aaron Feuerstein – decided not to patent fleece, allowing it to be accessible to the masses and inexpensive to purchase. Now working under the name PolarTec, the company continues to make it’s famous fleece today.

Fleece Vs Wool

Generally, fleece is preferred over wool because it is softer and much lighter in weight. Some people also find themselves itchy when they wear wool, but this reaction is unlikely to happen with synthetic polyester. However, wool has the advantage of being totally natural and environmentally friendly, whereas fleece is only eco-friendly if produced from recycled plastics.

Fleece:

  • Softer than wool
  • Lighter weight
  • Does not insulate when wet
  • Breathable
  • Creates static so can attract lint and pet hair

Wool:

  • Can be itchy
  • Natural, environmentally friendly
  • Insulating even when wet
  • Breathable

Surprisingly, fleece often comes out on top, essentially being a lighter and more breathable version of wool, with all the warmth and comfort of a natural fabric.

How easy is it to print on fleece?

Surprisingly so. If you don’t believe us why don’t you and find out exactly how easy it is. Simply upload your design, be it a photograph, piece of art or even a snap of a surface pattern you like, and position it as you want it.

Feel and explore polar fleece and over hundred other fabrics with your own swatch pack.

When living somewhere with weather as unpredictable and ever-changing as the UK, it’s important to layer up wisely and have options that won’t weigh you down but will come in handy when it gets a bit too chilly. It’s also important to carry versatile clothing that does many jobs in one to save you carrying a ton of things around ‘just in case’…

Enter: the fleece jacket. A good fleece can really make or break your autumn-winter wardrobe – and even your spring-summer one, too. Here at Trespass, we offer a selection of ladies fleece, men’s fleece, boy’s fleece and girl’s fleece jackets, too.

While many may associate fleece with a cosy zipper-that’s-not-quite-a-full-jacket, this is just one type of many fleeced-up garments that would even bring you comfort in the middle of a big freeze. So, what can fleece look like? Does it change in weight? Does the weight affect its warmth? Why is it so warm?

We have the answers to all of your burning questions below, so c’mon, and get your fleece on!

What is Fleece Fabric Made Of?

The main benefit of fleece material is its effectiveness at trapping body heat and sustaining the warmth. The synthetic fabric is generally made out of polyester. Polyester is a man-made material composed of two petroleum products that can be manufactured from recycled plastic. Polyester fleece is also extremely durable and moisture-resistant, so it just keeps getting better.

In the past, natural wool garments were the go-to for anyone looking to combat the cold and stay warm outdoors. However, due to its mass availability and affordability, fleece has since become favoured over wool as it’s warmer and generally much more lightweight.

The fleece material is still modeled on natural wool to achieve the ultimate comfort blanket texture that will never let you down in the cold.

Advantages Disadvantages
Extremely soft and plush Flammable
Flexible, lightweight and comfortable Not windproof
Durable Can’t withstand washing at very high temperatures, tumble drying or ironing
Highly breathable Prone to attracting dust, lint, pet hair etc. due to high amounts of static electricity
Moisture-resistant
Remains insulating when wet

Is Fleece Waterproof?

Short answer: No.

Fleece remains wearable for longer as it is moisture resistant and highly breathable avoiding the build up of natural odors.

However, it should be noted that fleece must be dried very carefully as it is flammable and cannot handle heat too well. So, if caught in the rain, ensure that you do not tumble dry or iron it, and if drying over a radiator make sure that it isn’t too warm, as it could burn the fleece.

Is Fleece Vegan?

As our fleece is made from polyester or cotton – or sometimes a combo – it is wool-free.

For those conscious of their clothing being vegan, you certainly don’t need to freeze when it gets chilly as fleece (sometimes referred to as synthetic wool) is the most comforting and heat-trapping fabric, yet completely ethical. Designed with enough thickness to keep you warm, you don’t have to sacrifice on style, colour or price to be happy with your clothing.

Weight

Fleece is categorised by weight – in gsm, or grams per square metre – which can be quite confusing as you might not see weight measured in that format everyday but we can explain. The first ever fleece manufacturer split garments into groups defined by how many grams of fleece constituted a square metre.

There are four main measures that will let you know how light or heavy the fleece in question is, so take a look below:

Fleece Weight Description Typical Use
<100gsm Ultralight Summer walking in cool weather
100 – 200gsm Lightweight General wear, walking in temperate weather
200 – 300gsm Mid-weight Outer layer in everyday wear or mid-layer in layering system
>300gsm Heavyweight Outdoor activities in Arctic conditions, as a thermal fleece

Types of Fleece

There are many different types of fleece nowadays, with new variations being introduced onto the market each year. Here we take a look at the three major kinds so you can better match your next fleece garment purchase to your needs.

What Is A Microfleece?

Microfleece is the thinnest and most lightweight type of fleece. These are the original mid-layers that are worn over base layers and under waterproof jackets. Microfleece provides the lowest level of insulation yet the highest breathability, so they’re ideal for active pursuits in weather that isn’t too cold.

Generally, any fleece up to 200gsm is considered a microfleece. They allow for the greatest flexibility when doing physical exercise, as the build isn’t too thick to restrict movement. The very light weight is the highlight feature of this type of fleece, and it’s also frequently chosen as an outer layer when outdoor conditions are mild.

Additional features such as multiple pockets and a large hood are unlikely to be found on microfleece as the scope is to keep it simple and very lightweight.

The Tron Men’s Half Zip Microfleece is 130gsm, for example, and is designed with Airtrap fabric to enhance its benefits while being lightweight. This microfleece is anti-pilling and made to capture body heat then maintain it as it traps in warmth.

Mid-weight Fleece

Mid-weight fleece covers the middle ground of the spectrum. This fleece can easily be worn as an outer layer on hikes and treks when the weather is chilly. Mid-weight fleece is much warmer than lightweight fleece and has higher insulating properties, as well as being more comfortable and breathable.

This type of fleece will offer less flexibility than microfleece but is thick enough to be a good everyday outer layer in cool conditions and a mid-layer when the temperature dips and you have to pair it with a base layer and waterproof jacket, as long as you’re not pursuing high-energy activities.

Any fleece between 200gsm and 300gsm is considered to be a mid-weight fleece.

Heavyweight Fleece

Heavyweight fleece is at the top of the range of fleece weights, coming in at 300gsm or more. This type of fleece is best suited for very cold conditions where physical activity is limited as it is best used as a thermal fleece.

Heavyweight fleece is the least flexible of fleeces, but also the warmest and most insulating. This can be stifling if worn when exercising or exerting yourself physically, as you’re bound to overheat quickly. The only exception is when you’re outdoors in very harsh climates close to polar or Arctic conditions, where you’ll be needing as much insulation as you can get.

Heavyweight fleece makes for a great outer layer in cold weather too, and can be staggeringly warm. Our Lovell Kids’ Full Zip Fleece Hoodie is 300gsm, making it a real titan of cold defence.

Textured Fleece

Textured fleece tends to share the same weight range as heavyweight fleece, yet boasts a patterned outer. This is mostly for decorative purposes, although textured fleece tends to be even softer to the touch and comfier than regular fleece.

Often luxurious-looking and velvety, textured fleeces are the dressiest of the lot and are ideal for putting on as an outer layer when out roaming in the cold, or even as a mid-layer when the chill increases.

Features

Fleece clothing normally has multiple features which add to its versatility and comfort. The eco-friendly material is super durable for one, meaning that a one-off purchase can last you years without going bobbly or raggedy looking. What are some other benefits of the fleece? Well:

It’s Super Lightweight

Fleece is incredibly lightweight material. This makes it great for packing into small bags and rucksacks, so you won’t have to carry lots of heavy kit around with you. Imagine taking a heavy woollen jumper on a trek, only to find glorious sunshine on your journey – you would be a bit peeved about having to carry it around with you. With a lightweight fleece jacket or hoodie, you can have the warmth for half of the weight.

It’s Adjustable

Fleeces sometimes have adjustable hems in order to fasten properly. An adjustable hem means you can restrict the passage of air into the garment and seal it in a more windproof structure.

It Gets Rid of Sweat

As well as locking in the heat and regulating body temperature, fleece is a wicking material that will wick moisture away from the body. This will prevent sweat from lingering and dampening your skin.

It’ll Keep You Warm as Can Be

Many jumpers and jackets are crafted from thermal fleece and have windproof facing for additional warmth and protection from the cold. This raised collar will be a lifesaver in strong winds and cold temperatures, and gives the fleece its traditional look.

2019 Guide to Fleece Blanket Material

On one hand, you could have a blanket that is perfect for snuggling under when it gets chilly. It also provides warmth without the allergies triggered by a lot of wool blankets or natural fiber blankets.

On the other hand, you could have a blanket that pills and sheds everywhere after the first wash and can become an unusable mess.

Here’s a simple guide to fleece blankets:

Synthetic Fleece

There are two main types of fleece material. The first and most common is polyester or synthetic fleece. This was created as an alternative to wool and has all the pros of the material (unparalleled warmth, non allergenic, easy care, and soft) but none of the cons (the heavy weight, allergic reactions, dry clean only etc.)

Polyester fleece generally is less expensive than wool or cotton fleece fabrics. While there is variance in the type of fleece you get depending on the brand, overall, the underlying makeup of all of these are quite similar.

What do you need to watch out for in synthetic fleece brands?

Firstly, make sure that they advertise that the fleece is non-pilling. This means that it can be washed and used without small balls of polyester developing and sticking to the blanket. The only way pilling can be prevented is though a shearing process in the production. This extra step is the difference between a blanket that looks wash after wash and one that will look used and old after one or two washes. It also means that the blanket is generally of higher quality and will last longer.

The second thing is buy fleece blankets with a quality edge stitch. The quality of the hem stitch will determine how long the blanket will last. Look for hems that have multiple stitches on each side of the blanket. The more stitches determines the strength of the blanket.

Third when cleaning and caring for your fleece blankets always machine wash on a cool setting and tumble dry on a low heat. The high heat setting has a tendency to burn the tips of the super soft fibers and will make the blanket become less soft if the blanket sits on the side of the dryer at the end of the cycle.
Cotton Fleece

Made from the same material as cotton sweatshirts, cotton fleece is quite soft and comfortable. Cotton Fleece fabrics are available in 100% Cotton and blends of Cotton 35% and Polyester 65%. Cotton Fleece can be a little more expensive than traditional synthetic fleece. Cotton fleece serves as the natural fiber alternative to polyester, especially for those who really like a natural fiber fabric and prefer the texture of Cotton

Keep in mind cotton fleece haas a tendency to shrink when washed. Good brands will account for this on their packaging and can make the original product slightly larger to accommodate for the shrinkage after the first wash

Weight

Different brands indicate the “lightness” or “heaviness” of fleece in different ways. Since even the smallest differences can have a very large effect on how warm a certain fleece blanket is, it’s important to buy from a brand you can trust.

Look for descriptions like grams per square meter or ounces per square yard. 300 – 400 grams per square meter and 10 – 14 oz per square yard is considered a heavy weight winter fleece. Summer weight fleece will range from 220-280 grams per square meter or 7 – 10 oz per square yard.

If you’re in the market for fleece blankets , keep all of these tips in mind and buy from a brand that uses the best materials when they’re making their blankets.

The Mermaids program, promoted through the Plastic Soup Foundation, an NGO based in the Netherlands, has also released some guidelines based on its initial research, including suggestions to avoid the use of detergents with high pH, powder detergents, and the use of oxidizing agents. It also suggests washing clothing in cold water and softening hard water, and it released a cheeky video to drive its point home. Clothing company G-Star, which integrates synthetic fibers sourced from plastic ocean debris into the denim jeans it sells, has partnered with the Plastic Soup Foundation to promote the Mermaid program.

In August, at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City, Patagonia will present the findings to its industry peers. It hopes to partner with the Outdoor Industry Association to turn the UCSB researchers’ testing protocol into an industry standard that would enable all clothing manufacturers to set a benchmark for fiber release from their apparel products. Dumain says it’s important that companies outside the outdoor niche start tracking microfiber issues as well. And she thinks an international third-party testing standards group, such as the ASTM, which has developed testing methods for factors such as sewn seams and flammability of apparel textiles, could also take the protocol and run with it. “It’s right up their alley,” Dumain says.

Unlike laws that restrict manufacturers from adding plastic microbeads to cleaning products, no obvious legislative approaches limit microfiber pollution, and apparel makers would likely prefer to self-impose approaches to reducing fiber loss rather than find themselves in the crosshairs of regulators should scientific evidence that microfibers pose environmental dangers continue to mount.

“We knew this would be step one in testing—to prove the methodology, to understand where we were contributing to the problem, where the industry could be contributing to the problem,” says Dumain. “From here, it’s going to set up a whole lot of testing that needs to happen throughout the apparel industry.”

Filed To: Clothing and Apparel Lead Photo: Urs Siedentop/Stocksy

What’s The Difference Between Microfleece And Fleece Fabric?

Your wardrobe isn’t complete if you don’t have something made of fleece fabric. Keep reading to learn why!

RELATED: How to Wash and Store Your Robe

In this article:

  1. What Is Fleece Fabric?
  2. What Is Microfleece?
  3. Microfleece vs Fleece: How Are They Different?
  4. Why Is Microfleece Special?
  5. How Do You Wash and Dry Microfleece Items?
  6. When Is It Best to Use Microfleece Items?
  7. Where Can You Purchase Microfleece Robes?
  8. Other Types of Fleece Fabric

Everything You Need to Know About Fleece Fabric and Microfleece

What Is Fleece Fabric?

When you read the word fleece, the first thing you may think of is sheep. Interestingly, fleece fabric doesn’t come from sheep’s wool at all.

Rather than wool, fleece fabric is a form of synthetic fabric. This means these warm, soft, and cozy garments are man-made.

They’re usually made from polyester. Sometimes, it’s referred to as polar fleece or polyester fleece.

What is polyester? Polyester is a type of textile that became popular in the 1970s. Its yarns and fibers are made from plastic (usually bottles).

Other kinds of fleece fabric include stretch fleece, French terry fleece, printed fleece, performance fleece, plaid fleece, and sweatshirt fleece. A lot of fabric store outlets carry these types of fabric fleece nowadays.

Fleece is a great alternative to wool. It can be warmer than wool during the cold weather, but it’s not itchy, and it’s also lighter!

There are four different types of fleece fabric:

  • Microfleece
  • Mid-weight fleece
  • Heavy-weight fleece
  • Textured fleece

The different types of fleece differ in weight and fabric finishes.

What Is Microfleece?

Microfleece is a special type of fleece fabric. If the fleece fabric weighs 200 grams per square meter (gsm) or less, then it’s considered microfleece.

Microfleece is a popular fleece option. It’s used to make shirts, gym clothes, sweaters, light outdoor clothing, lightweight jackets, throw blankets, and shawl collar bathrobes.

Tip: Feel like lycra spandex is too tight? For a breathable, warm, and cozy alternative, you can try outerwear and garments made of microfleece.

Microfleece vs Fleece: How Are They Different?

Microfleece isn’t really different from fleece because it’s still a type of fleece. They share the same fabric DNA—they’re both synthetic and usually made from polyester.

You can, however, differentiate synthetic microfleece from the other types of fleece. This includes mid-weight fleece, heavyweight fleece, and textured fleece.

Mid-weight fleece weighs 200-300 gsm, while heavy-weight fleece weighs 300 gsm or more. On the other hand, textured fleece is a special type of heavy-weight fleece that has a special pattern or embossed design on one layer or side of the fabric.

Compared to the other types of fleece, microfleece is the lightest and thinnest. While it may not provide as much insulation as the other types of fleece, it makes up for it in terms of breathability.

Why Is Microfleece Special?

Relaxing in a soft microfleece robe

Microfleece offers a few advantages over other types of fabrics:

1. Super Soft and Comfortable

A lot of fashionistas have trouble deciding whether to prioritize style or comfortability.

For example, a tight dress might show off the right curves, but it also makes it hard for you to move around freely. The same goes for men who want to wear tight, body fit shirts.

With fleece fabric, you can have the best of both worlds! There are a lot of printed fleece options with great patterns and designs. Plus, they feel super soft, fluffy, and plush in texture, so they’re cozy and comfortable.

2. Flexibility Isn’t Compromised

This fabric is flexible, so it doesn’t restrict movement, and you can stretch it as much as you want.

For maximum flexibility, you can use stretch fleece or performance fleece clothes. These are often used by athletes who want to train in both style and comfort.

Just make sure you wash and store them properly after every use. Otherwise, they might end up smelling sour.

3. Added Warmth and Comfort

Dressing up during the wintertime is quite a task. Wear too few layers of clothes, and you’ll end up cold; layer on too many, and you’ll feel hot.

Luckily, fleece fabric adds just the right amount of warmth during the cold weather. An extra layer of microfleece or sweatshirt fleece will keep you warm and cozy all the time.

4. Easy to Bring Around

Fleece fabric is lightweight, so it’s easy to layer and travel with.

You can stuff it in your already full travel bag with ease. The space that one large jacket occupies is probably enough to fit around three to four fleece jackets.

Also, you can layer it on top of your clothes without feeling bulky or tight.

5. Doesn’t Smell Bad

Microfleece is a breathable fabric, so natural odors don’t build up over time. This makes it ideal for sweaty individuals who live in relatively warm areas.

If you want, you can even wear fleece jackets as a shirt. Even if you don’t have an undershirt, you won’t have to worry about smelling bad.

Of course, you should still make sure to wash both sides of whatever fleece garment you have properly. You might not smell bad, but bacteria still builds up if you refuse to clean your clothes.

6. No Pilling

Say goodbye to small balls of lint found on sweaters and jackets! These are small fuzzballs sweaters produce as they age or when you wash them.

Luckily, fleece is a very durable type of fabric, so it isn’t prone to pilling. Even the thick fleece sweaters with a coarse texture don’t shed or pill.

7. No Sweat Stains

Apart from smelling bad, another problem sweaty people living in places where there is a warm climate deal with is pit stains.

These are marks and stains formed when sweat builds up in a certain area of the body. They often appear on the chest, armpits, and lumbar.

If you don’t want to have pit stains anymore but still want to wear sweaters, opt for fleece fabric. They are moisture- and water-resistant, so it will help seal in moisture on the skin.

If you really don’t want sweat marks to build up, wear dark-colored plaid fleece shirts and jackets. Stains and marks aren’t as visible on darker colors.

8. Quick Drying

Tired of waiting 24 hours for your clothes to dry? Then switch to fleece fabric garments!

Their resistance to water and moisture doesn’t just make them the perfect outerwear for sweaty people. Since this fabric repels moisture, it also dries quickly, so you can use it more often.

Tip: Use fleece fabric bathrobes, so you don’t have to dry your robes for too long.

9. Vegan Option

Fleece fabric is a vegan, cruelty-free type of clothing. They’re made of 100% synthetic material, so there was no harm done to animals in the production of these garments.

Note: Some brands do not use fully synthetic materials. Keep in mind that it may only be considered vegan garment if it’s made from 100% polyester.

On top of these advantages, microfleece is also widely available, and it’s affordable to boot. No wonder it’s used in so many ways!

How Do You Wash and Dry Microfleece Items?

Taking care of microfleece cloth so it lasts longer

Just like any other fabric, it’s important to know how to wash and dry microfleece items to ensure their longevity. Follow these simple washing instructions for microfleece:

  • Use a stain remover to pre-treat stains before putting the items in the washing machine.
  • Wash microfleece items separately from other clothes.
  • Turn microfleece clothing items inside out to help keep the fabric’s colors from fading.
  • Use the appropriate amount of laundry detergent. Avoid using fabric softener, and do not use bleach.
  • Put the washing machine’s cold water setting on low. Stronger settings may damage the fabric’s fibers.

Microfleece is flammable and can’t withstand a lot of heat so take extra care when drying it. Here’s the recommended drying method for microfleece:

  • Air drying is the best method to dry microfleece. Since it’s lightweight and breathable, it won’t take too long to dry outdoors.
  • Use the gentle, tumble-dry option on the lowest heat setting on the dryer. After one cycle, remove the microfleece items right away and fold them.
  • Do not iron. The heat from an iron can melt the synthetic fibers of microfleece, and you may end up with unsightly burn stains.

Tip: If you intend on storing thicker microfleece items like bathrobes or microfleece sheets/blankets in a closet, you can keep it fresh by inserting a dryer sheet in one of the folds.

When Is It Best to Use Microfleece Items?

If your microfleece clothing item is for outdoor use, like a jacket or sportswear, then it’s perfect for summertime use. For colder seasons, you can still use your microfleece clothing item because it’s perfect for layering!

Since microfleece is thin, you can easily wear it under your clothes, or you can wear it as an outer layer, too. For instance, a French terry fleece jacket is warm and comfortable, but you can also use it during the warm weather since it’s lightweight and breathable.

If the microfleece item was made for indoor use, like bathrobes or throw blankets, then you can actually use it year-round!

Who wouldn’t want to envelop themselves in a comfortable microfleece hug while resting or relaxing all year long? Just imagine how wonderful your nap times would be with soft, plush blankets!

RELATED: Turkish Cotton vs Other Cotton

Where Can You Purchase Microfleece Robes?

Microfleece is soft, lightweight, breathable, and flexible—making it a great fabric for bathrobes. The best place to purchase your microfleece bathrobe is RobeMart.

RobeMart offers the best quality for the best prices! Apart from its other luxurious robe lines, RobeMart has a line of very soft microfleece bathrobes for both men and women.

Their luxurious bathrobes are made from durable 100% microfiber polyester inside and out. They also come in six rich colors:

  • White
  • Burgundy
  • Black
  • Grey
  • Purple
  • Navy

Each bathrobe has a double belt loop, so you can customize the position of the belt to suit your height. It also has two deep pockets in the front and hanger loops for easy storage!

Prices start at $29.99, but RobeMart offers discounts for five or more orders. They also offer free shipping for orders $150.00 and up within the contiguous United States.

Other Types of Fleece Fabric

Apart from microfiber fleece, here are some other types of fleece fabric you might encounter at a local fabric store or shopping center:

1. Mid-Weight Fleece

Mid-weight fleece is any clothing made of 100- to 200-weight fleece fabric. This is ideal for health buffs who want to stay warm while working out in the cold weather.

If you’re shopping for a robe made of mid-weight fleece, it’s ideal to use at gym changing rooms, golf club lounges, pools, and other areas where you don’t necessarily need heavy, plush outerwear.

2. Heavy-Weight Fleece

Fleece shawl collar robe

Stay warm and cozy no matter how harsh the weather gets with heavy-weight fleece. This fleece fabric is any clothing made of 300-weight fleece or heavier.

Heavy-weight fleece robes are perfect for everyday use during the winter. Just imagine how serene it’d be to sit by the fireplace while you’re all snuggled up in your favorite heavy-weight fleece robe, right?

3. Textured Fleece

Textured fleece fabric is often used on garments such as shirts, sweaters, and coats. Its simple yet eye-catching details give off an exquisite, elegant vibe.

RobeMart offers plenty of options. Simply choose a design that perfectly expresses your style and personality and then flaunt it!

Tip: If fleece is not your thing, some alternatives you can try are floral robes. They’re the perfect outerwear for pajama parties, intimate get-togethers, or stay-at-home date nights.

4. Stretch Fleece

As the name suggests, stretch fleece is a type of breathable fleece fabric that stretches along with your movement. This is often used for tight activewear, such as jackets and Dri-Fit shirts.

5. French Terry Fleece

The French terry fleece is an umbrella term for any thick, plush fleece fabric. This material is ideal for both male and female bathrobes because it absorbs extra moisture and provides the relaxing comfort you seek after a nice bath.

For a complete post-shower experience, make sure you use a fluffy towel as well. The combination of a fluffy robe and towel can make you feel as if two clouds are hugging you.

6. Printed Fleece

Printed fleece is basically any kind of fleece fabric with a print or design on it. You commonly spot these on sweaters and hoodies.

If you’re looking for robes with beautiful designs you can show off at a pool party, then check out RobeMart’s collection of waffle robes. Whether you’re looking for a loud, extravagant design or a simple, elegant one, RobeMart has it!

7. Performance Fleece

Performance fleece is a specific kind of mid-weight fleece fabric used on activewear, such as shirts, sweaters, and hoodies. It’s light and easy to move around in, but it still provides the warmth and comfort you need during the cold weather.

Microfleece is undoubtedly a very versatile fabric. While it makes excellent outdoor wear, it also makes the perfect bathrobe.

It’s ideal for all kinds of events whether you need outdoor clothing to wear to a camping trip or a very soft, breathable garment to take a nap in. Who can resist its combination of functionality and comfort?

With just a few clicks, you can complete your wardrobe with this microfleece essential. So order yours today!

Do you have any microfleece clothing items in your wardrobe? What do you think of RobeMart’s very soft microfleece bathrobes? Let us know in the comments section!

Up Next:

  • 5 Reasons To Choose Turkish Cotton
  • How To Wash Microfiber Cloth Towels and Robes (No Pills Allowed!)
  • 9 Occasions For Matching Family Pajamas And Why They’re The Perfect Gift

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 18, 2019, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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