TVF Resource Center

What Is Fleece?

What Is Fleece?


Fleece is a synthetic fiber engineered to be a comfortable, breathable fabric with insulating properties optimal for outdoor apparel applications. Fleece was created in the late ’70s and early ’80s to replicate the superior insulating qualities of wool while eliminating the heaviness when wet and scratchy, uncomfortable feel. Low-pile fabrics like fleece and high-pile fabrics like TVF’s Minky Deluxe are great for outdoor layers, blankets, gloves, and many other cozy items.

How is fleece made?

Some, but not all, fleece is made from recycled plastic bottles. Once the yarn is spun, dyed, and knitted on a circular knitting machine, it is napped and sheared to create the fuzzy feel of synthetic wool. So, what constitutes a fleece fabric? Fleece fabrics are knit, and then at least one side is brushed to loosen the fibers and create a raised surface, called a nap, for a soft, plush feel. For basic fleece sweatshirts and sweatpants, generally the inside of the garment is brushed to feel warm and soft against the skin. Two-sided plush fleece fabric is napped/brushed on both sides.

What is brushing and napping?

Napping and brushing are techniques to take regular smooth fabric and pull out fibers from the yarn, adding loft, fluffiness, and insulation. The types and combinations of needles, rollers, and other techniques used when napping fabric creates the fuzzy look and feel. Nappers have their own special combination of needles and techniques and will never divulge their secrets. Remember: fleece wouldn’t be fleece without napping!