Fleece feels a lot like wool and for those rare people who have allergic reactions to the wool alcohol content in raw wool – the softness of fleece fabric is a pleasant and very welcome alternative.
The type of material that makes up fleece is a two-sided pile which means both sides of the textile consist of a layer of cut fabric much like corduroy and velvet. Another, clearer example of pile can be found in the wall-to-wall carpet found in many homes. That warm, fuzzy top layer is pile. Now imagine that in a smaller scale, on both sides of a thinner and more flexible backing – that’s basically what your fleece fabric material is like.
As mentioned earlier, synthetic fleece has been patronized by many outdoor enthusiasts for years due to its durability and ability to withstand rough wear and tear. It is great for keeping warm, resisting moisture and when it gets wet it dries faster compared to its natural counterpart – wool.
One concern that hounds those who patronize the warm and fuzzy side of the fabric kingdom is similar to the hair ball problem that cats face. Fuzzy fabrics have a tendency to pill but unlike its other wool-like comrades, this man-made material can take the heat, so to speak, and resists the lure of pilling.
It gained popularity in the early 90s with backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts as a lighter and warmer alternative to the traditional wool outdoor gear. Since then, mainstream fashion has also used fleece fabric for sportswear and casual wear. From embroidered fleece vests to beanies and jackets, this amazing material has gained a steady following in the fashion industry and beyond.
Diving enthusiasts have also found a use for the synthetic material. Diving socks, masks and rash guards are some of the applications of fleece fabric in the underwater industry. In space travel, it has also been used to manufacture astronaut’s underwear.
Did you know calves born during winter sport earmuffs made of fleece fabric?
Well the first and most important raw material is polyester. Polyester is made from two petroleum products called terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol which make up a polymer that is then extruded into fibers. Green-minded companies have also made use of recyclables such as soda bottles in the manufacture of fleece fabric.
Aside from polyester, other additives such as dyes and finishing materials like Teflon and other waterproofing chemicals also play a part in the make-up of blend.