How is Fleece made?

Fleece is a soft napped insulating fabric. It was made to mimic and in some ways surpass wool. It is made from synthetic fibres, mainly Polyethylene terephthalate. The first form of synthetic man-made Fleece fabric was made in 1979 by Malden Mills. This was known as Polar Fleece.

Fleece Manufacture

Fleece fabric is usually made entirely from polyester. The PET plastic is melted, by heating it and then it is fed through shower head like nozzles, when they come into contact with the air they solidify and form long filaments of polyester. Once this has been done the filaments are then drawn out, which increases the strength. These are then crimped which gives the fibres a wave and creates a fuzzy surface texture, much like wool has. The filaments are then ready for processing.

Machines then use these extruded filaments to knit enormous tubes of fabric. This fabric is usually looped on both sides. These loops are then napped using a machine. This usually involved lots of thin wire prongs making the surface of the fabric all fuzzy. The surface nap is then all cut to a uniform length to create an aesthetically pleasing surface of the fabric.

More recently, developments in fabric manufacture have meant that small percentages of Fleece fabric can be made using recycled plastic bottles. This not only reduced the cost of manufacture, because waste products are being used, but it also means that Fleece fabric is becoming more environmentally friendly and renewable.

Properties of Fleece

  • Good Insulator
  • Vegan Alternative to Wool
  • Hydrophobic
  • Highly Breathable
  • Machine Washable
  • Dries Quickly
  • Not naturally flame-retardant. Must be finished with a treatment to become flame-retardant
  • From non-renewable sources
  • Not Windproof
  • Creates a lot of static electricity
  • Doesn’t absorb moisture
  • Prone to pilling
  • Stretchy because it is knitted
  • Will melt if exposed to high temperatures
  • Not Itchy like some wool fabrics
  • Inexpensive to manufacture

End uses of Fleece

  • Casual Jackets
  • Hats
  • Sweaters
  • Gym Clothes
  • Throw blankets
  • High performance outdoor clothing
  • Cold weather garments
  • Alternative to Wool


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Written by Kelly Mitchell

Kelly Mitchell, extremely competent and reliable, she is currently in her third year at the University of Lincoln UK, studying Fashion. Kelly is responsible for the Fabrics, Fibers and Leathers sections of our Dictionary

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