Have you ever noticed how lovely fleece is and how many varieties of colors there are to call to you? It seems to whisper - how many projects can you work with me???? At one time we had a Hancocks Fabrics in our area and I used to love to go in their store because they had a two tables piled high with fleece of every description and I would stand and let them all whisper to me. Lovingly I would let my hands caress each bolt like a beloved friend. When someone told me that fleece was manufactured from plastic bottles it really blew my mind - how in the world could anything so soft come from something so hard? Well, I have an answer for you:
How Plastic Bottles are Recycled to Make Fleece by Michelle Miley
Plastic bottles that are going to be recycled into fleece are first sorted by color and type of plastic. The sorted bottles are then examined, and any debris mixed in with them is removed. The bottles are then sterilized and run through a machine that chops them into small pieces and then puts the pieces in water. The water clean the plastic flakes and removes any dust from them. The bottle pieces are then run through a blowing dryer that blows off any dust or remaining pieces of the labels that were on the bottles.
Melting and Mixing
When they are dry, the plastic pieces are melted in an oven. The plastic must be heated to 250 degrees Celsius (482 degrees Fahrenheit) before it will melt. The melted recycled plastic is mixed with new melted plastic that has not yet been used to produce anything. This new plastic is called "virgin plastic." The melted plastics are forced through a device known as a "spinneret." A spinneret is a metal disk with holes in it. Then the plastic is forced through the holes it is shaped into threads. These threads harden when they come in contact with the air as they leave the spinneret.
Drawing and Finishing
The plastic threads that emerge from the spinneret are referred to as "tow." The tow is wrapped around a warm spool and is then run through the drawing machine. A drawing machines is a device that stretches the strands of tow until they are over twice as long as they where when spooled. Drawing the tow makes it longer and increases its tensile strength. The longer threads are now dried and cut to the desired length. The process of drying the threads changes the texture of them to a texture more closely matching that of wool than plastic. The finished strands of plastic thread are rolled into a bail and then woven into other strands of thread to make yarn. This yarn is dyed and then used to make fleece clothing.
How is that for blowing your mind- take junk and turn it into a useable product. For once something is not being wasted!
So, I decided to try my hand at a blanket for my granddaughter. One of the features I wanted to learn how to do was to be able to use "Decorative Threads" in my serger- so I got my wish in this project.
I also found a wonderful site with more information on this for you:
One of the tips I really liked was the feature they called a "rabbit ear" way of doing the fringe! They also spoke about a "hounds ear" by cutting the fringe just a tad longer! I can never get over how people come up with these wonderful ideas. Can you tell that anything sewing just makes me glow with enthusiasm?