Preparing the Fleece – Fleece Blanket Tutorial – Part 1

Years ago I prepared the fleece for my first couple of crochet-edged blankets with just fabric scissors and a 1/8″ paper punch! An H hook (5.0 mm) can easily slip through a 1/8″ (3.175 mm) hole in stretchy fleece.

If you decide to go this route, be careful that you buy a tiny 1/8″ punch, not an everyday 1/4″ one.

472 paper punches

There’s a Big difference in the holes they each make!

472 holes punched

I punched holes about 3/4″ apart and 3/4″ in from the edge of the fleece. It’s not terribly hard to make holes in fleece with a paper punch, but your hand will get tired. I usually punched a few holes, crocheted into them and then punched a few more.

So yeah, you can prepare a piece of fleece for crocheting an edging with just a paper punch and scissors, but if you plan to border more than a few blankets you’ll probably want to buy the tools that make the process both faster and easier on your hands –

472 tools

a 45mm rotary cutter, a skip-stitch blade and a self-healing mat of at least 18″ x 24″. Couldn’t find the blade in any local store, so I ordered one from here. I got the #1 blade, designed for use with fleece and a worsted weight yarn, like RHSS. It makes little slits that work well with size H or I crochet hooks.

Update re: Blades (Jan. 2015) – “Havel’s Wide Skip Blades” look similar and sell for about half the price of the brand I linked above. According to the customer reviews they work fine! Also, a reader told me that she found “Edge Perfect Blades” at a quilting fabric shop, another possible source.

472 cutters and mat

My second cutter is loaded with a plain cutting blade. You could use one cutter and switch between the two kinds of blades or substitute a pair of fabric scissors for the plain blade, scissors sharp enough to easily cut through fleece.

You may also want to get a clear acrylic ‘quilting’ ruler. Mine is 5″ x 18″. A narrower one would work fine for this job.

472 quilter's ruler

Some, like this particular one, have a little lip on one end so it can grip the edge of the cutting mat, making it less likely to slip out of alignment. This is very helpful when cutting strips of quilt fabric, but not of much use when cutting a huge piece of fleece! Most of the time while making blankets I have it flipped over so the lip is out-of-the-way and I can more easily slide it around.

And you’ll need a straight pin. One with a colored ball head will be easier to see. If you follow the Linus Project Pattern, ‘Skip-Stitch Blade Instructions’, for a square-cornered fleece blanket, you’ll use a pin to mark wherever you stopped perforating the fleece with the skip-stitch blade.

472 a plate and a straight pin

But if you want to round off your blanket’s corners like I do, I find it easier to mark where I begin perforating. I’ll explain that better a little later. I used a lunch plate, one that’s about 9″ in diameter, as a pattern for my blanket’s curved corners.

And, of course, you need a piece of fleece! The size is completely up to you.

 472 fleece

Fleece often goes on sale at 40 or 50% off and once in a great while at 60% off!

At ‘my’ JoAnn store I can save another 50% by buying fleece remnants. – I don’t know if every JoAnn store allows a remnant discount on top of a sale discount or not; you’ll have to check your local store’s policy. – This special double discount means that $10 per yard fleece, for example, ends up costing me only $2.50 per yard, and $15 fleece would be $3.75. Yay!

I look for remnants of at least a yard. This particular one is 1.11 yard or about 40″ x 58″.

472 40" wide fleece

Let’s check out just how rectangular my remnant really is. Are its two cut edges perpendicular to its selvedges? Wow, this edge is Great, cut right along the stripe line! Yay!

472 good edge

But the opposite side is a little off, so I’ll give it a trim. Yes, the scissors are laying there, but with such a tiny sliver to be removed it was easier to use the ruler and rotary cutter.

472 to be trimmed

I also cut off the selvedges. Usually they’re a different color, but sometimes there’s an area that’s only different in texture, rather ‘bald’ or with a line of teeny-tiny holes.

472 selvedge #1

Obviously squaring up a striped piece of fleece is very easy. I check the general squareness of other prints and solids against the grid pattern of our kitchen’s vinyl flooring and trim as necessary.

Next match up any two corners.

472 match two corners

Round them off by trimming around the plate.

472 rounded corners

You can begin perforating with the skip-stitch blade anywhere along the fleece’s edge except on a corner curve. Stay about 3/4″ in from the edge. Having done this many times before I can just eyeball it now, but you’ll probably want to use the ruler. Mark your starting point with the straight pin.

472 begin perforating

Double check that you’re about to use a skip-stitch blade and not the regular kind. Bad news if you should ever forget to switch!

472 checking the blade

Perforate the fleece from the pin to the far edge of the cutting mat.

472 perforate to the mat's edge

Hold the fleece along its edge right next to where you made the last hole. Move that spot down to the bottom of the mat so you can continue perforating along the same edge.

472 hold fleece at last hole

Carefully pull the fleece out at its edge so you can clearly see the last hole that you just made.

472 pull edge to see last hole

Insert the bottom-most spoke on the skip-stitch blade into the last hole.

472 line-up blade's spoke and hole

Continue perforating and moving the fleece until you near a curved corner.

472 continue perforating

Slowly go round the corner. My cutter makes ominous creaking/binding noises but nothing bad has happened so far!

472 rounded corner

Continue perforating until you find yourself back at the starting pin. Don’t hit the pin!

472 back to pin

Remove the pin and check your first and last holes. Hopefully they will be well aligned and you can say Ta-Dah! as I did here.

472 done

But if your first and last holes are too far apart you can carefully add another hole between them. – or – If they’re too close together, you can just skip a hole when you crochet the foundation round.

The Linus Project Pattern also includes the Foundation and Finishing Crochet Rounds. I’ll cover how to do them on pieces of fleece with rounded corners in next week’s tutorial – Part Two.

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25 Responses to Preparing the Fleece – Fleece Blanket Tutorial – Part 1

  1. daniellajoe says:

    I like visual tutorials, thx!! 🙂

  2. stacee says:

    Where did you find the skip blade? I have been looking every where i can think of and i cant find it.

  3. Suzanne says:

    I got the blade at my LQS and it is called Edge Perfect Blade. Worked great.

  4. I started making these for Project Linus 2 years ago & it’s a perfect way to volunteer while watching TV.

  5. Diane says:

    Thank you for your instruction. I’m assuming since the blade cuts through fleece, it will cut through flannel as well. I crochet around flannel “burp cloths” and have purchased them with the holes but would like to save money and have more flannel options if I make them myself. Any thoughts on the cutting blade and flannel?

    • You’re very welcome, Diane. I’m glad that you found this post worth reading!

      Hmmm. I’ve never looked closely at ‘pre-punched’ burp cloths. What size hook and yarn do you usually use with them?

      I think the blades intended for fleece probably make too big of holes, big enough for size H and I crochet hooks to easily slip through. But I see that the #2 Slip-Stitch Blade was designed with flannel in mind.

  6. Brandy says:

    Hello, I am attempting to make my first one of these fleece edged blankets. They look so darling and I have 4 friends expecting! I am using the skip stitch rotary tool. I marked my fabric and just for good measure left one inch between the perforations and the edge. When I started to crochet in the middle of one side the entire side ripped off. I am experienced at crochet so I know my stitches were not too tight. I tried again with the same results. Does anyone know what I am doing wrong? Any help,would be so great.

    • Hey Brandy ~

      Sorry to hear that you’re having such trouble with your first blanket.
      Could it be the fault of that particular piece of fleece fabric? (can’t tell by what you said if both your attempts were done on the same piece or not)

      I’ve never had a problem with fleece I bought off a bolt at a fabric store, but some of those fleece “blankets” (the ones with a machine serged edge, often sold rolled up with a paper band – like this) are made of terrible stuff.

      • Teia Streeter says:

        I am having the same issue!!! I was thinking it’s possible that this type of fleece is just crappy but it’s really discouraging 😦

      • So sorry that you’re having this problem!

        Could be the fleece.

        Could be the cutting blade. . .
        Compare yours to the one in the tutorial photos. Do they look about the same?

        I just ran mine on a tiny scrap of paper – it leaves 3/8″ of fabric between tiny slits.

  7. judtih says:

    I found my skip stitch blade at http://www.walmart.com, ordered it online and then picked it up in-store for 6.84

  8. JILL says:

    I’m planning on making a thread crochet edging on microfiber fleece and I was considering using a skip blade like these. My concern is that the ones that are wide enough spaced that they won’t make the fleece tear apart will be too far apart for a thread crochet base. Have you ever tried this with thread crochet and small hooks?

    • Hi Jill ~
      No, I haven’t tried using crochet thread in holes made with this blade.
      But I think putting a few chains between the stitches worked into the holes would probably work.

      It would take a little experimentation to figure out how far in from the edge to run the blade – far enough in so the holes won’t rip out, but close enough to the edge so the stitches in the holes won’t need to be elongated a ridiculous amount.
      Please let me know how things go; I’ll be wondering. – Best Wishes for a successful project!
      Linda

  9. Karen says:

    Very helpful. Great tips. Many thanks for sharing.

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