How to: Tips for Artwork and Decoration on Fleece

Wearables magazine talks to Jeanene Edwards, vice president of Activewear Marketing & Merchandising for Fruit of the Loom and Jerzees, about her best tips for decorating fleece wear.

What are some general tips for working with fleece, and what makes it special?

Fleece is popular because it’s warm and cozy fabric in “comfortwear” styling.  People pull on their fleece hoodie when they want to be warm and comfortable. Schools and businesses with outside active workers rely on fleece especially in fall and winter to provide that team spirit or uniform look.

What types of logos and artwork work best on fleece?

Fleece is widely used across most decorating processes including screen printing, heat transfer, embroidery and appliqué. Left-chest hit placements are popular on zip hoodies. Pullover hoodies and sweatshirts offer larger “billboard” opportunities, whether it’s a company logo, team mascot or tourist destination art.  When working with performance fleece, sublimation is terrific for detailed, colorful artwork. 

Is there a certain place on the fleece that works better for decorative placement?

Front and back centers on pullover hoodies and sweatshirts are optimal, as this area provides the best billboard for your client’s artwork.

But, zippers and pockets can present issues. For most purposes, it’s best to avoid decorating over the pocket and keep placement above the pocket. Size art appropriately to fit above the pocket on the smallest size garment to ensure it works across all sizes. With zip hoodies, if you’re printing or embroidering company or club logos, it’s best to do a left-chest placement and not try to work over the zipper. If a back full print is also required, ensure placement is visible with the hood down.

Decorating full chest on a zip hoodie is possible with some preparation. We recommend a garment that features a covered “kissing” zipper where fabric meets in the middle over the zipper. For example, all Fruit of the Loom and Jerzees zip hoodies feature this type of construction. Use a zipper pallet so you have a channel routered out where the zipper can fall or be pushed into the channel. This allows the screen to come down fairly flat over the garment while reducing excessive ink over the zipper. Pallet tape and adhesive will help secure the garment so the zipper lays in the channel.

Are there any limitations with this material? How are these overcome?   

We love fleece because it’s thick and cozy, but the double-sided fabric tends to move around a bit. Applying pallet adhesives in advance of decorating can solve this issue. Decorators should also test the fabric first and keep the garment stabilized during decoration.

Fleece usually contains polyester, so always test the fabric first. For screen printing on traditional fleece cotton-poly blends, test the fabric first for dye migration, use inks with bleed blockers and use the ink manufacturer’s recommended dryer temperatures and timing.  We recommend curing at no greater than 300 degrees. 

When performing sublimation on 100% polyester fleece, be sure to test a garment for heat-press marks, especially when sublimating on color.

All fleece referred to here is traditional fleece or performance fleece, which are offered by Fruit of the Loom and Jerzees Activewear.  

Jeanene Edwards, vice president of Activewear Marketing & Merchandising for Fruit of the Loom and Jerzees, has more than 20 years of experience working with globally recognized branded apparel.