Does Fleece Shrink? Should You Wash Fleece Before Sewing?

Not all clothes are made from the same fabric. That makes sewing a lot more fun and challenging. You get to be creative, innovative and fleece is a great fabric to achieve those characteristics.

Does Fleece Shrink? Yes, and no. Some varieties of fleece will not shrink and other varieties will shrink somewhat. The shrinkage you experience will depend upon the materials used to make fleece. There are natural kinds and man-made kinds and normally, the latter does not shrink.

To learn more about fleece, just continue to read our article. It explores this portion of the world of sewing to make sure you understand fleece and avoid that shrinking feeling.

Does Cotton Fleece Shrink?

If it is made from 100% cotton, then yes, expect some shrinkage to take place. It may not be a lot but it also may be enough that the clothing item will not fit properly on you.


The rule of thumb is to buy a 100% cotton fleece article of clothing and pre-shrink it to make sure the clothing will look great. If the fleece is a blend, then the polyester threads added to the cotton keep the article of clothing from shrinking.

Now there may be exceptions to that rule but a lot will depend on the quality of the manufacturer and how well they made their blended fleece clothing lines. Also, if you apply too much heat or keep it in your dryer too long, you may see some shrinkage take place.

The best way to dry fleece is to hang dry it, then put it in your dryer on cool and fluff it up for about 10 minutes.

What About Polyester Fleece?

Most polyester made fleece should not shrink. That is why polyester was blended with natural fibers in the first place- to stop shrinking from taking place. Most polyester fleece is made from recycled plastic bottles.

Polyester is not immune to heat. High temperatures are its natural enemy and if you dry your polyester jacket, etc., in your dryer then you risk seeing it shrink after you pull it out of the machine.

The best way to avoid shrinking fleece and overheating it is to dry it on the line in the sun. Hang drying is the best option in keeping your expensive fleece clothing articles safe. It is also the best way to let you wear them more than once.

Opting to use a polyester fleece over a 100% natural version is not going to let you avoid pilling, fading, odor retention or keep pet hairs from being attracted to your new jacket, etc.

Does Microfleece Shrink?


Generally, and we mean generally, micro-fleece should not shrink even if you wash it on hot and put it in the dryer. However, with that said, your experiences may be different.

One way to avoid any shrinking issue is to stretch the fabric before you cut or sew it. If any shrinkage does take place, this will compensate for that loss of length. Or you can wash and dry your bolt of fleece on the hottest wash and dry settings you have to take the shrink option away.

When they say that most fleece will not shrink, they are actually saying, be aware, the kind you buy, even polyester, may shrink some. So we are not going to make a blanket statement here and soothe your worries. Be aware that you may face some shrinkage when you sew fleece.

Should You Wash Fleece Before Sewing?

It is a good idea if you do wash your fleece before sewing it into whatever piece of clothing you want. Not only does this help prevent shrinking, it helps protect your health as well.

Many fabrics, like fleece, are pre-treated with chemicals and if you do not know if you are allergic to those chemicals, you could be setting yourself up for an allergic reaction if you do not pre-wash.

Also, you never know what has touched the cloth prior to your purchase. It is a wise move to pre-wash to make sure there are no unseen contaminates still lurking on the fleece. When you pre-wash, you are taking care of several issues in one shot.

Also, be careful after you wash your fleece. You do not want to use a hot iron on your fabric just in case the heat melts it.

Does Fleece Shrink After Washing?

The answer we are going to give here is sometimes. It will depend on what kind of fleece you are washing. 100% cotton or wool fleece most definitely will shrink during the wash.


Almost all polyester fleece should not shrink and we say should not because nothing is perfect. Some experienced sewers have had their polyester fleece shrink on them through a variety of ways.

There are so many varieties of fleece made today that deciding if fleece shrinks or not is done on a case by case basis. We have had experts say that fleece does shrink after washing and others that say it doesn’t.

It would depend a lot on the temperatures you use when washing your fleece fabric. How hot your water gets will play a role in your fabric shrinking or not. The cooler the temperature the better chances you have of not having your fabric shrink.

How Much Does Fleece Shrink When Washed?

For 100% cotton, it does not shrink that much. The experts say that you should buy enough fabric to make your jacket, etc., one size bigger than you really need it. This ensures that if the fleece shrinks, then the article of clothing will still fit

In one case, the fleece was pre-washed and the clothing item was made an inch larger all around. After 4 months, the clothing item continued to shrink till it was 1 1/2 inches smaller.

Does fleece stop shrinking? Yes, it does but when is never really known because all fleece does not respond in the same way. Even fleece fabric that is not supposed to shrink will shrink from time to time. You just have to be careful in your cleaning to help avoid shrinking taking place.

Pre-washing always helps, if not for shrinking, then for your health.

Can You Shrink Fleece Sweater, Jacket or Pants?

Yes, you can. You can do it accidentally or you can purposefully shrink any fleece item if you use the right conditions. All you really need is heat to do the task. But to make sure you don’t damage your other clothes, make sure to purposefully shrink your fleece jacket, etc., on its own.

What you need to do is turn your washer water setting all the way up to its highest temperature. Once you have washed it, place the item in your dryer and again crank up the heat.

After you have done this the first time, take the article of clothing out and measure it. After you measure it, and it is yours, try it on to make sure it is down to the size you want it to be at. If it is still too large, then repeat the above process until it fits.

How to Shrink a Fleece Jacket

One of the most important tips you need to follow before you try to shrink a fleece jacket is to not do it with a decal or bright pattern attached to the fabric. If you do, the decal will be ruined and the bright colors will bleed ruining the jacket.

If you have a plain fleece jacket without bright colors or decals, you can follow the procedure mentioned above. Taking care to do it one cycle at a time and measuring in between each cycle before repeating the process.

Once you shrink your jacket and it shrinks too much, you cannot get the size back again. Stretching the fleece is also a no-no because you will pull the threads out and ruin the fleece fabric.

Just be careful when you go to purposefully shrink any fleece clothing item. One mistake and you have wasted a lot of money.

How to Shrink Fleece Pajamas

Every clothing item, including those made from fleece, come with cleaning and care instructions. These instructions tell you how to wash and dry your fleece clothing articles.

The instructions are there to help you protect their size, color and finish. Purposefully shrinking pajamas or other fleece items means ignoring those instructions and altering the look of the pajamas, etc.

The same procedure mentioned two sections back should work for shrinking your fleece pajamas. It is the standard method and there are no real alternative ways to get the shrinking task done.

The water temperature should not go above 230 degrees F. Any hotter than that may melt the polyester fibers and make the pajamas unwearable. Polyester has a melting point and when it melts, it gets hard. Hard clothing is not very comfortable to wear, especially when sleeping.

Will a Fleece Blanket Shrink in the Dryer?

The best way to answer this question is, it is possible. A lot will depend on what kind of fleece the blanket is made from. Also, it will depend on how hot you set your dryer. High temperatures tend to shrink even shrink-proof fleece.

If the blanket is made from 100% cotton, then expect it to shrink 1/4 size down after a trip through the washer and dryer. Keeping the temperatures on low or even cool will protect your blanket and keep it from shrinking.

Another way to avoid shrinking your fleece blanket and still get it dry is to hang dry it. The heat of the sun takes care of the drying duties. You will save on your electric bill when you do.

Some Do’s and Don’ts When it Comes to Fleece

Fleece is not a perfect fabric. It has its vulnerabilities like any other clothing material. Here are some things you can and cannot do with fleece:

  • Do not dry clean the material- the fabric is meant to be washed by hand or on a delicate cycle.
  • Do turn the garment inside out before washing it.
  • Do not iron fleece- the heat may ruin the fabric. If you do iron, do it on the non-face side.
  • Do hang dry the fabric- dryers should be the last drying resort.
  • Do not use bleach or fabric softeners on fleece clothing items.
  • Do not dye fleece- pick the color you want when you purchase the fabric.
  • Do not wash fleece with other clothes- the lint transfer is hard to remove from all the clothing.
  • Do not wash fleece with lint making items- too much lint will get on your fleece jacket, etc. Wash fleece together or alone.
  • Do buy anti-pill fleece if you want to avoid fiber balls getting all over your clothes.
  • Use a razor blade to remove the pills from the fabric

One Nice Fleece Tip

The best way to remove dirt and other stains from fleece clothing is to spot clean each one. You do this by mixing warm water with dishwashing liquid and a little vinegar. Then let that mixture soak for 5 minutes before rinsing it off.

Some Final Words

Fleece can be a difficult fabric to work with as there are so many things to watch out for. One of those issues is that fleece can be very thin and it can clog up your sewing machine devices quickly with fabric pieces.

Another is that it is possible that your fleece clothing item will shrink if you are not careful. Polyester made fleece is not supposed to shrink, but it can, especially if you put too much heat on the fabric.

100% cotton or wool fleece may shrink a full size or as little as a 1/4 size. It will depend on how you clean the fabric. Just a little extra care is all that is needed when dealing with cleaning fleece.

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