Jersey fabric is one of the most popular of all knit fabrics. Who doesn’t have a t-shirt in their wardrobe! But that is not all. Learn more about this versatile fabric.
What is a Jersey Fabric?
Jersey is a generic term used for a collection of weft-knitted fabrics. Usually, Jersey is used to describe a single knit fabric with lengthwise ribs on the right side and horizontal rows on the back. Jersey knits are available in a lot of weights, a lot of levels of elasticity and thickness, smoothness, etc.
Jersey is a single knit fabric with lengthwise ribs on the right side and horizontal rows on the back.
Different types of Jersey Fabrics
Jersey fabrics can be made in different fibers like rayon, bamboo, cotton, polyester, nylon, and viscose; Other kinds are acetate jersey, triacetate jersey, silk jersey, and wool jersey. But the best jersey fabric may be a multi-fiber blend.
A tri-blend jersey fabric is a blend of cotton, rayon, and polyester, with all the good qualities of all these fabrics like breathability, softness, stretchiness, and stability.
The most popular types of jersey fabrics are cotton jersey, and cotton-polyester blend jersey. You will find these jersey fabrics in your wardrobe as t-shirts, tops, cardigans, dresses, joggers, etc.
Nylon/Polyester/Spandex Jersey fabrics are used to make lingerie, sportswear, dancewear, etc. When spandex fibers are added to the jersey construction, it results in a fabric that has superior stretch recovery, which is very advantageous for a lot of purposes.
Slub Jersey is a jersey with a special texture because of the slubbed yarns used in its construction – this gives it an interesting rough feel. Matte Jersey is made of fine crepe yarns.
Mainly all these fabrics are categorized as single jersey and double jersey, depending on the construction. The difference is that single knit machines use one single needle and double knits use two needles in the weft construction. You may also find densely knit jerseys and loosely knit ones, leading to quality variations.
Jersey as a dressmaking fabric when compared to other knits
The advantage of jersey fabrics is that you can make simple casual garments that do not ask for complicated constructions. It is the most preferred fabric for making sleepwear.
It is super comfortable on the skin and inexpensive- the best combination for a dressmaking fabric, don’t you think?
The disadvantage is that you cannot make garments that need support or which can stand on their own. Jersey is comparatively unstable, being thinner when compared to interlock knit fabrics.
The best jersey fabric may not be the strong, non-distorting fabric you are looking for. It stretches more on the width. Not at all suitable for structured garments unless you use lining or interfacing.
How to sew with Jersey fabric
A jersey is a typical knit fabric – Jersey fabrics usually have a 2-way crosswise stretch- with enough stretch to call it unstable for any sewing, which you may reserve for wovens and other stable knits. It may even stretch more than 30% over
its original length.
You have to alter your stitching to accommodate the stretchiness and the thinness of the fabric. You may encounter all the problems associated with thin fabrics like puckered seams, fabric eaten by the needle plate, etc, while sewing with it.
Related post: How to sew with thin fabrics
Use the correct needle
You should use ballpoint sewing machine needles, ballpoint pins – anything that will preserve the smooth surface of the fabric. An 11/75 needle is preferred for fine jersey fabrics. These needles will not make holes in the fabric – this is a major problem with jersey fabrics.
Use the correct stitch.
A zig-zag stitch or an overlock stitch is the best to sew the seams of jersey fabrics. If you sew with a lot of knit fabrics, you may even wish to buy an overlocker because it finishes the seams and the edges in one go. The overlock sews the seam and, at the same time, finishes the edge – the best for thin jerseys
Use the correct thread.
Use 100% polyester or core-spun cotton/poly threads on your sewing machine for best results – these have enough stretch to accommodate the stretch on the jersey fabric.
Loosen the thread tension on the machine.
Find the grain line of the fabric
It is important to find the grainline of the fabric before cutting, but then, it is easy with jerseys. You can follow the vertical rows of stitching on the fabric. If the fabric is off grain, you will find that the vertical rows will not align. If it is an unstable knit, the stitches will not be parallel to the edges.
Because of the unstable nature of the fabric you will need to stabilize seam lines.
If you are sewing joggers or pajama pants with jerseys, you may need to reinforce the crotch seam and even the waistline edge with a straight woven fabric tape to prevent it from stretching and distorting.
Sew the edges correctly
Jersey fabrics do not fray at the cut edges, but there is a problem among jerseys – curling. To prevent the edges from curling (this is most common with thin jersey fabrics), you will have to sew a zig-zag stitch just after the seam line and trim the edge close to the zigzag stitches – this is the best way to finish the edges.
Jersey’s are usually bound at the edges, and the construction is less complicated than for other fabrics, but sometimes you may want some extra reinforcement – If you want to interface, use non-woven all-bias interfacing. A tricot lining is also used to give stability to the fabric.
How to take care of Jersey fabric
The unstable nature of single knit jersey fabric leads to problems after the sewing and after washing and wearing. The fabric may stretch and sag in some areas like the neckline, hem leading to a distorted look
Jersey is the first knit you will find holes in – poor quality jerseys make them by themselves. Moths may attach, rubbing against bracelets, watchstraps, bag hardware, anything may cause small snags on the fabric face; so just be careful. You may like a garment made of this fabric a lot, but it is useless if they have these
Another problem is pilling. This is more common in cotton-polyester jerseys.
More questions on Jersey fabric
What garments can be made with jersey fabric?
Jerseys are best suited for drapey clothes, the kind with soft folds. For eg a cowl neck. You can also use jerseys for gathered construction.
How to find the right side of Jersey fabric?
It is usually difficult to find the right side of knits unless there are prints. But with this fabric, no problem! The two sides of the fabric look different. There is a knit side and a purl side. But then, you can use either side as the right side.
Usually, people choose by stretching the cut edge along the width – the side to which the curl happens is chosen as the right side. The side with the vertical ribs is preferred as the face and the horizontal purl loops are kept on the back
Jersey fabric trivia – The name Jersey comes from the Island of Jersey, where wool of a particular sheep was used to make this fabric.
Reference : Fabric Sewing Guide by Claire Shaeffer.
Updated on November 24, 2022 by Sarina Tariq