Many T-shirt blanket and quilt companies offer fleece on the back of their blankets or quilts. They describe the merits of fleece as:
Easy to Care For
Won't Ball Up
These attributes of fleece may seem great. Yet, despite how great they might sound, there are reasons why you may not want to choose fleece.
In this article I will first look a few reason why you might not want to use fleece. Second, we will ask why a quilt maker would choose to use fleece. And third, I will address each of the attributes from the list above.
Reasons Not to Use Fleece
When Fleece is used on the back of a T-shirt quilt top without any batting in between the quilt top and back, it’s no longer a quilt. It’s a blanket.
Typically, when fleece is used on the backing of a quilt, the front and back are not attached. (See the photo here showing how the back and front of the blanket are not attached. ) This is not a good solution.
The top can flop around because it is not held to the back. The result is a saggy, snaggy blanket. The T-shirts on the topside will sag and flop around. This can result in the T-shirts getting snagged on things. Snagging is the leading cause of tears and rips. Thus, the longevity of your blanket will be jeopardized.
Why Would a Quilter Use Fleece on the Back of a T-shirt Blanket/Quilt?
It’s fast. Without quilting and batting, the quilt top is sewn to the fleece with the good sides facing together and then turned inside out. This is a 10 to 20 minute job.
It doesn’t require the investment of a long-arm quilting machine. Long arm quilting machines cost from $20,000 to $35,000.
It does not require the quilter to wash and dry the quilt backing fabric – so a washer and dryer are not needed.
Batting does not have to be purchased. This can save $20 to $70 dollars per quilt depending on the type of batting used.
The quilter might be lacking skill to quilt and bind a quilt. This lack of skill may be evident elsewhere in the blanket.
Because they like the ease of using fleece.
Planning a T-shirt quilt? Here are step-by-step directions for ordering your Too Cool T-shirt quilt.
A Note About Each “Attribute” of Fleece
At the beginning of this article, I listed the attributes of fleece that T-shirt blanket makers tout as reason you should choose fleece for the back of your blanket.
As a T-shirt quilt maker, I use 100% high quality cotton on the back of my quilts. Here is my comeback, as you might say, to each of their points.
Yes, fleece is warm, but so is cotton batting.
Yes, but it is not that much lighter than cotton batting and cotton backing material.
Yes, it is soft.
Neither will 100% cotton backing that has been pre-washed. But if you choose a T-shirt quilt company that does not pre-wash their backing, then all bets are off. Too Cool T-shirt Quilts pre-washes all of our backing material.
This is just a weird claim. Unraveling is what sweaters do if you pull on the yarn just right. Sewn correctly, 100% cotton backing won’t unravel or even fray. It’s important to find a skilled quilt maker for your quilt.
The Dye Won’t Run
When cotton material is set right, it's dye won't run either. If you choose a T-shirt quilt company that does not pre-wash their fabric like we do at Too Cool T-shirt Quilts, the fabric on the back of your quilt might bleed.
Stretchy like your T-shirts
I am not sure how this is an attribute. If the T-shirt part of the blanket is as stretchy as is the backing, the whole blanket can get stretched out of shape. When a T-shirt quilt is quilted to a non-stretchy piece of cotton backing material, the entire quilt is stable.
This is very subjective. Our T-shirt quilts are also cozy because we do not use iron-on backing on the backs of our T-shirts like many traditional T-shirt quilt companies use.
Easy to Care for: Just Wash & Dry
This is also how you care for a Too Cool T-shirt quilt. There are companies who ask you to dry-clean your quilt because they don’t prewash the backing material – so compared to dry-cleaning, wash and dry is easier.
This depends on the quality of fleece. Cheap fleece will pill. High quality 100% cotton fabric should not pill. But T-shirt quilts made with polyester or part polyester backing material will have pilling. You won’t have pilling with a Too Cool T-shirt Quilt.
This will not happen to a Too Cool T-shirt quilt. It will happen to T-shirt quilts made by companies who don’t prewash their backing material, use polyester batting and who do only a minimal amount of quilting. Their quilts will ball. So be careful in your choice of quilter. Read more about quilts balling up here.
Perhaps the fleece is durable. But when used in a T-shirt blanket with the T-shirts on the front not connected to the back, then durability of the blanket is an issue.
I am not sold on this one. I would venture that cotton is much more breathable than polyester.
The Bottom Line:
Using fleece on the back of a T-shirt quilt turns it in to a lower quality quilt and more likely than not you're actually getting a T-shirt blanket. You should want more for your T-shirt quilt.
Compare this T-shirt quilt and T-shirt blanket made out of an identical set of T-shirts. The one on the left is the blanket and has fleece on the back. The one on the right is a Too Cool T-shirt Quilt. Below the first photo is another photo that shows the back side of these same two T-shirt quilt/blanket. Which one would you rather have?
To learn more about having a quilt made from your T-shirts, check out our Resource Page. Here you will find links to information about every topic related to T-shirts quilt - and then some!
Andrea Funk is the inventor of T-shirt quilts made with multiple blocks sizes. The modern method of making T-shirt quilts. In 1992 she founded Too Cool T-shirt Quilts. Her life has been immersed in T-shirt quilts ever since.