I ran into an interesting conundrum recently. Someone posted on a board asking for suggestions for a test garment. She wants to make the final garment from wool flannel, and she asked what she should use as a fitting shell. I thought about suggesting an inexpensive fleece from JoAnn or Hancock, but I held my tongue. I was afraid I would get a big serving of whupp-ass if I so much as intimated that fleece is a good idea, because there are lots of posts on the web about the evils of the fleece aisles in fabric stores.
Let me be clear. I’m really not wild about 99.94% of the synthetic fleece that is out there. You want to make a dress coat, or even a semi dress coat? Back away from the fleece and walk over to the woolens. I’m the first to say it. But fleece isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. It’s all in how you use it.
I used to work very closely with Malden Mills before the big fire. They made fleeces that were lightweight, drapey and perfect for casual outdoor wear. Many mills, both domestic, European and from the Far East make decent fleece products (no I don’t sell them – it’s not my bailiwick at this point, so I’m not trying to be an apologist). I would not make a dress coat from fleece, but that’s partly because I live in the Northeast, where the winters are cold and where the wind whips right through most fleece fabrics. But for certain garments, like lightweight jackets, winter bathrobes, and ski shells, fleece is great.
Will I buy a ton or even 25 yards of it? Hmmm, most likely no. But is it evil? No. And for the warmer climes, where you don’t want heavy stuff? Heck, find a good fleece and make yourself a jacket. I have. I will, and I will teach my students to do so.