Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Fleece Workshop

Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours!
Mike's mother (2nd from right) reminded me of the year they were all in Argentina for Thanksgiving and Susie cooked a Thanksgiving dinner for the relatives down there. She had me write up the story of the First Thanksgiving so she could explain it to those new to the concept of Pilgrims, Indians, and turkeys. [FYI, four of those above were born in Argentina. Six speak fluent Spanish, though the accent is different from Central American Spanish. (Susie speaks what she calls Spanglish.)]


Corner of 45 x 60" Cuddle Blanket

Considering the amount of time I spent creating "Working with Fleece," and recalling that the gift-giving season is upon us, I thought I would pass along some of what I offered in my workshop last Saturday. First of all, something I learned only after producing the booklets for my workshop; namely, that Fleece and Plush are NOT the same thing. I learned this the hard way when two of my three grandgirls chose Plush for their Christmas blankets and I discovered my clever hole-cutter did not cut holes in Plush; it shredded it! So before you run to the fabric store, PLEASE NOTE:


In the course of developing my “Working With Fleece” workshop, I discovered a fabric I didn’t know about: Plush.  So before I explain how to make soft, warm items for gifts or for yourself, it’s necessary for you to understand the difference so you won’t repeat my mistake and end up having to cut a half-inch off all four sides of the blanket I was working on!


Fleece is extraordinarily soft, warm, and almost as solid as a rock. It comes in an astonishing variety of plain colors and prints, the prints ranging from cats and koalas to footballs and airplanes. It has been around for some time—I have a jacket made from it that looks as good as the day I bought about 20 years ago. A small steel needle will penetrate fleece, but a yarn needle and yarn will only go through with a great deal of effort. (A blunt yarn needle, not at all.) But pre-cutting evenly spaced holes with a special rotary cutter makes it easy to add a border to the fleece.


Plush is even softer, fuzzier, just as warm, but NOT solid as a rock. It has not been around as long and does not come in as many different prints as fleece. I also have doubts that it will hold up to washing and general wear & tear as well as fleece. BUT—the most significant point—even a large yarn needle (steel, not plastic) can penetrate a double layer as easily as cutting through custard.

What does this mean?

Fleece - To add a yarn border, you will need a rotary cutter to make holes in the fleece. (Details below.) After that you make a foundation row around the item, using either blanket stitch or single crochet. (Crochet is faster.) Size H hook recommended. (5.00mm)

Plush - To add a yarn border, it will be necessary to make a single-fold hem around the blanket—turn under a half-inch on all four sides and use zigzag or other stitch that moves from side to side. Once hemmed, blanket stitch into (or over) the hem, using a steel yarn needle. The blanket stitch provides the foundation for the additional rows of the crocheted border. Size I hook recommended.  (5.50mm)

What happened when I used a hole-cutter on Plush?

It looked all right until I started to add the single crochets, at which point it simply shredded along the line of the holes. I had to cut the edges off past the hole line, hem the blanket on the sewing machine & begin again, with blanket stitch.


Why work with Fleece and/or Plush?

First of all, it's fun to give a gift you made by hand - something that cost you a bit of time and effort instead of simply money. Second, when we're all so busy, busy, busy, adding a pretty border to the warmest, softest fabrics in the world takes about one-tenth the time of crocheting or knitting an entire garment from scratch. For example, the pillowcase I made took a half hour. The border around the baby blanket, two evenings while watching TV, the Cuddle Blankets around 4 evenings watching TV. So take the plunge. Make a quickie gift or two. Or create something for yourself! Hopefully, you'll find one of the ideas below appealing.

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Note to my many foreign readers:  Please adapt instructions to your stores, your way of measuring yardages—if confused, the Internet should be able to translate. 

A.  Super Easy Projects

    1.  Blanket - from precut fabric at Jo-Ann Fabrics  (scissors* needed only to remove     manufacturer's logo)

    2.  Blanket - select your fabric from the bolt  (same note as #1 above)

    3.  Fringed Scarf  (scissors* needed)**

    4.  Decorative Pillow  (scissors* & sewing machine required)*

    5.  Pillowcase  (scissors* & sewing machine required)

    *Sewing scissors, not kitchen or paper scissors

**Fringed scarf—using a quarter yard of Fleece, not Plush, cut fringe 6"x½" in each end. (A quarter yard will make a scarf 9" x 60".)

B.  Easy Hand-Sew Projects

    Scarf, Shawl, Doll Blanket, Baby Blanket, Lapghan (approx. same size as baby blanket but for adults), Cuddle Blanket, Blanket. Or projects of your own imagination.

Needed: scissors*, # 4 yarn (worsted weight), yarn needle.

C.  Projects with Crocheted Borders (2-5 rows - basic stitches only)

    Scarf, Shawl, Doll Blanket, Baby Blanket, Lapghan (approx. same size as baby blanket but for adults), Cuddle Blanket, Blanket. Or projects of your own imagination.

Needed: scissors, #4 yarn (worsted weight), for Fleece Size H (5.00mm) crochet hook; for Plush with Blanket Stitch foundation, Size I (5.50mm).



The Fleece projects in B & C also require the use of a special rotary cutter which puts holes in the fabric (which is almost impenetrable otherwise). The rotary cutter & special hole attachment are expensive. Suggest arranging to share the expense with others of similar interests.


Fleece and yarn* can be purchased at Jo-Ann Fabrics, Michael’s, or Hobby Lobby. (Some Wal-Marts also carry both fleece and yarn.) You can use Google to find the craft store nearest you. All three craft stores offer 40%-off coupons on a regular basic. For coupons, just google their websites. Or, if you prefer, Jo-Ann’s has an App I keep on my phone, which reveals all their coupons & discounts for any given day.

FINDING BARGAINS. Ask a clerk to show you where the “Remnant” display is. Here, you can find pieces of fleece from a quarter yard in width up to about a yard and a quarter. At fifty percent off. A quarter yard (58-60" wide) is plenty to make a scarf. (I paid $5 for the remnant I used to make the all the samples used at the workshop.) A yard is enough for TWO baby blankets. A yard and a quarter adds up to a 45" x 60" Cuddle Blanket.

PRICES (U.S. dollars):

Fleece (before coupons, sales, remnant price)    $15-20.00/yd

Yarn (#4 worsted)    $4-8.00/hank

Yarn needles    $2.00/pkg of 2

Crochet Hooks    $4-6.00 & up

Note: if you become an enthusiast & want to do more projects, you might want to purchase your own hole-making equipment.

Rotary Cutter    $20-50.00*
    [*Mine was approx. $30.00]
Hole-cutting blade    $10.00
Cutting Mat (price depends on size)    $20-200.00*
    [*I get by with the $20 one!]   

YARDAGE NEEDED - Fleece or Plush

Note: most fleece is 60" wide, so a yard gives you a length 36" x 60".

Decorative Pillow*    ½ - 5/8 yard (makes 2 pillows 17 x 17 - 19" x 19")

Pillowcase (standard)    5/8 yard (with some left over)

Scarf    1/4 yard

Shawl    ½ - 5/8 yard

Doll Blanket    ½ - 5/8 yard (makes 3 blankets 20" long)

Baby Blanket/Lapghan    1 yard (makes 2 blankets 36 x 30") or 1 36 x 36"

Cuddle Blanket     1¼ yard (suitable for a single person)

Blanket     Precut bundle or yardage of your choice

*For pillows, stuffing is sold by the bag. Or polyester forms are available in a variety of sizes.

Yarn (#4 - worsted weight)

Smaller projects can be done with ”leftovers,” if you have any. The following are "guestimates" based on the blankets I've made so far:
A baby blanket/lapghan with 3 rows of edging:  3-4 ounces of yarn. Cuddle blanket:  2 rows - 5-6 oz.; 3-4 rows - 10-12 oz. Full blanket - 12-16 oz.

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IMPORTANT NOTE: Videos of how to crochet a chain, single crochet, double crochet, slip stitch, etc., are available on the Internet. Just google the stitch you want. From simplest to the most complicated, it’s all there. 

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Next week: Easy borders you can add to your Fleece project 
FYI, my favorite "border" book:  50 Crocheted Afghan Borders by Jean Leinhauser 

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Blair's three tales of Christmas:

Thanks for stopping by,


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