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This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: MaryW
Date: 09-23-2003, 10:42 AM (1 of 5)
I am posting this for a lady who contacted me. If you can help, please respond here. Thanks.

Hi, I am a fairly new sewer but love it. I just made my sister an easy to sew coat. The outside is fleece and the inside is also a contrasting color of fleece. It is very thick and I cant seem to get the button holes to sew using my Bernina machine. Should I decrease tension or lower feed dogs or what. Please help. I also thought maybe there is a way of using tear-a-way facing on it. Sorry to be a pain, but I cant finish the coat without some advice. Thank you for your time and patience.

owner/editor of Sew Whats New
User: MaryW
Member since: 06-23-2005
Total posts: 2542
From: lsherm
Date: 09-23-2003, 10:47 PM (2 of 5)
Topic: Polarfleece

You don't need anything special to sew polarfleece. I use a narrow zig zag and I don't finish the seams. I also trim the seams to a narrow width. When I make socks and mittens I use a 1/4 inch seam and trim it even narrower. I've never had luck making buttonholes in fleece - I'd be interested to hear other people's experience.

This way works for me with buttonholes on fleece:

Step 1: Interface first with whatever works.
On kid's clothes, I hot steam press interfacing! They say don't do that, but it works.
On better clothing, maybe sew-ins or even pre-shrunk poly-cotton batiste. Whatever you have.
I topstitch to anchor the interfacing in place. If you don't want to topstitch, I guess you can anchor it to some seams. I suspect it comes off after many washings, tho I've never peeked to see.

Step 2: I have to nearly always put some sort of paper or tissue underneath because the feed dogs pull on the fleece fuzzies and stretch out the fleece or don't let it go anywhere.

And always test first.

Here's what I've used that works for buttonholes:
1) Fuse the back behind the buttonholes with interfacing (use a press cloth to be careful)
Then stitch with a straight stitch around the buttonhole and slash it after.
2) (MY FAVE) Faux bound buttonhole. If you have some ultrasuede scraps, cut a rectangle to accomodate your button (make a test first).

Take 2 rectangles of ultrasuede about 1" wide and the length of the rectange plus 1/4". Now fold rectangles in half lengthwise so that folded edges are positioned across the middle of the buttonhole. Secure the 'lips' in place with pins, glue or basting. Sew around them, securing buttonhole lips in place and trim the back neatly. Works great, and you could probably do this with other things than Ultrasuede, too.

Things that can help - 1) loosen the pressure on the presser foot to help the thicker fabric move through.
2) A "walking foot" used in quilting is also great, moves top and bottom layer through the machine together.
3) Hems are great- just turn under a single hem and top stitch (using the narrow zigzag stich). Hems can be narrow 1/4 to 1/2", or a wide 2", whatever you prefer (play around with some scaps to get a feel for it.)
4) you can also use lycra fabric or ultrasuede as bindings to cover the edges of sleeves, hems, armhole openings on vest, etc.
5) Remember, it won't unravel, so no need to finish the seams!

For my buttonhole technique (I invented it to use on a melton jacket) I cut the rectange then the buttonhole lips are behind the rectangle. This way it looks professional, plus you don't need to finish the fleece edges. Topstitching close the the rectangle edges helps, but if your stitching's wobbly, the fleece hides it!!
I was unconvinced I could iron on fleece until I made the new Vogue Marcy Tilton jacket pattern, where she recommends iron-on intefacing to back the buttonholes and pocket openings. Ever the skeptic, I tested it first and it worked fine. I did however use a cool-fuse interfacing.

Oh, and don't forget to save the scraps for hats, earwarmers, neck gaiters, etc. has some tips on using their products.
i tend to use zippers instead of buttons. large plastic teeth seem to work best.

i wouldn't suggest using an iron as it usually melts the fleece. did you know that some of the polortech is made from recycled soda pop bottles?

Sewing on fleece is so easy. I fell in love with fleece after my first project. I made a fleece jacket and it was so simple. After that I made a couple of fleece tops and it look me less than an hour to put them together. Anyways for tips on fleece:

1. use a longer stitch than normal.
2. you dont need to finish seams
3. dont iron on fleece
4. if you have to use interfacing, use the sew-in interfacing.
5. when cutting out the pattern from fleece mark the right and wrong sides of fleece in each pattern with a removable scotch tape.
6. I read on a post that you can't wash fleece with your other clothes. Wash it separately and use a powder detergent instead. And dont ever use fabric softner. it will ruin your fleece.
7. I used a size 14 needle and 16 on some edges where there were more than two overlaps.
8. trim the seam allowances after you have finished your project.


User: lsherm
Member since: 09-23-2003
Total posts: 2
From: Aimee S
Date: 09-24-2003, 12:58 AM (3 of 5)
WOW I cant think of a thing to add. Way to go... and thanks
The more you disaprove, the more fun I am having!
User: Aimee S
Member since: 02-23-2003
Total posts: 488
From: MaryW
Date: 09-26-2003, 09:29 AM (4 of 5)
lsherm, welcome to Sew Whats New. :bluesmile
owner/editor of Sew Whats New
User: MaryW
Member since: 06-23-2005
Total posts: 2542
From: emermuffin
Date: 10-02-2003, 11:15 PM (5 of 5)
Thank you, Isherm, for your tips. I am about to start my first fleece projects and you've offered some great advice and links!

User: emermuffin
Member since: 03-29-2003
Total posts: 55
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