Does Fleece Shrink? A Detailed Answer!

What is fleece, and how to take care of it? Our guide will help you to save your favorite jacket from shrinking!
Jean Chaney
Jean Chaney
Research Writer
Jean is the brains behind her fashion label. She's a whiz with a needle and thread, and has been sewing since she was old enough to hold a pair of scissors. Jean has always read more
Reviewed By
Isabel Misner
Isabel Misner
Expert Consultant
A professional seamstress. Isabel has her own video blog where she shares her experience about all the aspects of sewing – from choosing suitable materials to step-by-step read more
Last updated: August 12, 2023
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Sewers know that there are many different types of fabric to use with whichever sewing machine you have at home, from the inexpensive sewing machines to the more advanced coverstitch sewing machines for more professional-looking items. One favorite fabric that allows sewers to create gorgeous and comfortable pieces is fleece, which can be used for almost anything you want to wear.

Of course, if you’re going to be wearing clothing made of this material, you may be wondering, does fleece shrink? The answer to this question may have you considering whether this is the right material for certain items. Luckily, whether or not fleece shrinks depends on the variety of material that you buy, so it is best to learn the difference between the popular fleece options to learn which one works best with your lifestyle.

What is fleece?

Does Fleece Shrink? A Detailed Answer!Though the word can be used to refer to a sheep’s coat, these days it describes a soft, lightweight, breathable fabric. There are many different types of fleece, though they are usually made of one of two different fibers.

Fleece is one of the many different types of cotton materials available, made using natural fibers that are woven into a light and breathable fabric. It is soft and warm, so clothing made of this material is the perfect choice for those cold winter months. Cotton fleece is also great for those active days since the breathability reduces sweating while still keeping you warm.

The downside of cotton fleece is that it will shrink, which is why it is best to pre-wash it before using it to create any clothing items. This way, you won’t risk ending up with a piece that is too small the first time you wash it.

There are also many items on the market made of polyester fleece. One favorite is Columbia Benton Springs Full Zip Jacket, which is popular due to its high-collared neck, zippered closure, and lightweight comfort for those who like to stay active.

Polyester fleece has an advantage over cotton fleece since it is made using recycled plastic bottles, so it isn’t as susceptible to shrinkage. This doesn’t mean that it won’t shrink since high temperatures could still leave you with a clothing item that is a bit snugger than when you purchased it. If you are careful and avoid using your dryer when laundering these items, it is possible to maintain the proper size.

Another option is mixed materials. Many manufacturers combine cotton and polyester fleece to reduce shrinkage. Some even add other materials to the mix. The Helly Hanson Precious Fleece Pullover Jacket is one option, with high-loft 2-sided fleece and heavy-duty down insulation for added warmth during those extra-cold days.

Does fleece fabric shrink?

As we described above, fleece fabric does shrink, though some materials are more resistant to this issue than others.


Does Fleece Shrink? A Detailed Answer!Microfleece made of polyester is one of the most popular types of fleece available since it is soft and comfortable, plus it isn’t expected to shrink, even when washed in hot water or thrown in the dryer. Of course, this is mainly for purchased clothing. Those purchasing fabric to sew their own designs should stretch it to the proper length needed before cutting their patterns just to be safe.

Cotton microfleece is not quite as versatile since it will still shrink when washed in hot water or put in the dryer. That’s why it is best to pre-shrink the material before you make your clothing.

You can also use cotton and polyester blends since these resist shrinkage, though even these options aren’t immune to it.

Slub fleece

Does Fleece Shrink? A Detailed Answer!Slub fleece is made when different sizes of yarn are twisted together, which creates a textured material that is perfect for hoodies and sweaters, as well as cozy blankets for your bed. Though it is warm and soft, this fabric is known to shrink if hot water is used to wash it or when spending long intervals in the high heat of a dryer. Cool water and minimal dryer time or hanging it up to dry can counter this and keep your pieces the size they are supposed to be.

French terry fleece

Does Fleece Shrink? A Detailed Answer!French terry fleece can be made using cotton, polyester, or rayon. There are also some varieties of this fabric that use a combination of cotton and polyester for their makeup. This type of fleece has woven fibers, which reduces the fluffiness when compared to a few other fleece options, though it still has a nice feel against your skin.

Like many of the other fleece varieties on the market, French terry fleece does tend to shrink when it spends too long in hot water or a dryer. Of course, static is also an issue when you try to dry it too fast, so lower the heat and take your time when cleaning items made of this material.

Final thoughts

Fleece is a fantastic material Trusted Source Call of the wild: hot new fleeces make the outdoors cool | Fashion | The Guardian The sight of celebrities wearing clothes usually associated with comfort during lockdown is pushing sales through the roof since it is soft and fluffy, keeping you toasty warm during the icy months of the year. The downside is that the answer to the question “does fleece shrink” is usually a yes, though some types of fleece are more likely to do so than others. Luckily, there are ways to counter this issue.

The first way is to lower the temperature of the water when washing this type of fabric. Limiting its time in the dryer or hanging it to dry is also a good way to reduce shrinkage. You can also use a cooler setting on the dryer to fluff it up when needed to keep your fleece items as cozy as possible.


Call of the wild: hot new fleeces make the outdoors cool | Fashion | The Guardian
The sight of celebrities wearing clothes usually associated with comfort during lockdown is pushing sales through the roof
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