The Rise of Fleece

Fleece used to really freak me out. I hated the way it felt - weirdly like plastic against my skin. Since I'm a natural fiber snob this aversion to fleece should come as no surprise to anyone.

Then I adopted my dogs. My dog LOVE fleece. I cannot emphasize this enough. LOVE. If given the option of a cotton, wool, or fleece blanket, the fleece will win every time. And, frankly, this is a good thing because it doesn't matter how disgustingly doggy their blankets get, the damn synthetic washes up clean. The worst thing that happens is that it pills. And, guess what... my dogs don't care.

We call this the "bed nest"

So, suddenly, I had fleece blankets in my house - first, just on the dog beds, then, eventually, new ones were bought for the sofa. And then one made it onto the bed.

Wisconsin winters are really cold and my 104 year old house is a drafty old gal. I came to welcome the fleece blankets and, somehow, my strange aversion to the "feel" of it disappeared. I like to think that it's because fleece evolved and the newer stuff was less "fake" feeling but, truthfully, it's probably just that I got used to it.

The final blow came a couple of years ago when Company X offered a variety of Land's End clothing items as holiday gifts to the staff. The only thing I thought I might actually wear was a 1/4 zip fleece pull-over. If nothing else, I could wear it around the house when it was cold. So, that's what I ordered. It was so soft and warm that I ordered a second one the following year in a different color. As a matter of fact, I'm wearing one right now!
It's kind of pill-y but, really, who cares?

So, why this diatribe on fleece, you ask? Well, recently, I've been crafting with fleece and I've come to appreciate one more thing - the ease of the stuff.

If you need a quickie project or want to do something with children that doesn't involve sewing, fleece is your go-to fabric. There are multitudes of prints and weights (the wall o' fleece at Joann's is a thing to behold) and it's cheap.

For our charity crafting day, we did a number of no-sew fleece blankets which we then stuffed with batting and turned into dog (or cat) beds for the Humane Society. No-sew blankets are beyond easy. Here are the instructions in 5 steps:
  1. Cut two pieces of fleece about three to four inches bigger than you want your finished blanket (dog bed) to be. This extra length accommodates the fringe and knots.
  2. Lay the two pieces together, right sides out.
  3. Go around the square cutting 3-4" fringe through both pieces of fabric.
  4. Once this is done, go around the blanket tying the top and bottom fringe pieces together, nice and tight, into square knots.
  5. If you want to insert batting (to make it a dog bed), simply insert the batting before you've tied up the last side and then finish the tying.
That's it. I tacked down the batting so it wouldn't bunch up during washing but, seriously, it's one of the easiest projects ever and perfect for a child who can handle either scissors or tying.

Also, while it required sewing, I used fleece to turn out a super-fast scarf and "ear muffs" for the Company X mascot. The beauty of this is that the scarf didn't have to be hemmed in any way and I could fringe the ends by simply cutting the fabric into strips. The "ear muffs" took a little more doing but fleece is so forgiving that I think I knocked them out in about 30 minutes total. I didn't even match the thread to the muff color because fleece sort of envelopes the stitches so you don't even see them. Here's a pic of the mascot wearing my creations:

If you have a Facebook account, you can watch the video below of the mascot doing the Gangnam Style dance and then you can get a view of the ear muffs too. Sorry about the tie to FB... we had no other way to link the video but the dance is so hilarious I wanted to, at least, let some of you see it. :)

So, what are your favorite, easy-peasy fleece projects? I'd love to hear because I'd like to add a few more to my arsenal for quick gifts and/or more charity projects.

- Alex

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