Bamboo Fleece
by Shannon Gifford
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  • Bamboo Fleece

    Fabric made from bamboo is a fabulous addition to your sewing resources! Bamboo fabric is made from the plant fibers, and the plant itself is rigid and strong. Bamboo plants grow very, very quickly, making it a viable, sustainable and ecologically friendly choice. But this incredibly versatile fiber is not only desirable for ecological reasons—it is a total pleasure to sew and to wear! Bamboo fleece is a study in texture and contrast. One side is flat and smooth; the other side is fleecy. This fabric is amazingly supple and buttery soft, with a fabulous drape. Either side can be used as the right side for construction, based on your personal preference.

    Pretreatment:

    Machine wash, tumble dry (low heat). Some bamboo fabrics require additional drying time. You can remove the fabric from the dryer while still damp and dry it flat, if you prefer.

    Needles and Thread:

    Use a jersey/ballpoint needle, size 11/75, for construction. Cotton, cotton/polyester, or all polyester threads can be used for construction.

    Seams, Seam Finishes, and Hems:

    For construction seams on a conventional machine, use a small, narrow zigzag stitch (2.0 width, 2.0 length), to maintain the stretch of the fabric. Finish your seams by zigzagging over the raw edges, or use a stretch binding for your seam finish. If you have a serger, use a 4-thread overlock to construct the seams as well as provide a clean finish. Hems can be topstitched with a stretch twin needle (size 4.0/75), or you can use your coverstitch machine to create your hems.

    Interfacing:

    As with any fleeced fabric, your choice of interfacing will depend on which side you choose to use as the right side. If you choose to use the fleeced side as the right side, you may use a fusible lightweight tricot interfacing applied to the smooth side. On the other hand, if you choose the smooth side as the right side, you will find a sewn-in interfacing to be the best option. Use a swimwear mesh, lightweight tricot, or a thin knit as your sewn-in interfacing.

    Pattern Suggestions:

    Sportswear and activewear such as hooded jackets, tees, tanks, casual pants, skirts, bathrobes, PJ's, baby (or grown-up!) blanket.

    Creative Possibilities:

    To add color to your bamboo fabric, try any of the dye techniques described in the guides for organic cotton or bamboo jersey. Another coloring option is to use one of the new spray dyes, marketed for use with tee shirts. The dye is in a pump-style canister, similar in texture to hair spray, and can be used with a stencil. For an up-to-date technique, use the spray to create zigzags of color, adding layers of spray to create darker colors.

    Additional Tips:

    As with any fleece fabric, use a with-nap layout for your garments. Keep a lint roller handy as you cut; run it over the raw edges of each cut edge to clean off the lint to keep your work surface tidy.

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