Jersey Fabric, Your Questions Answered

Jersey fabric is one of the most popular fabrics is use today. This soft stretchy fabric is easy to use and looks fabulous made into dresses, tops, skirts or trousers.

Some Of Our Jersey Fabrics Faves!

What is jersey fabric?

Jersey fabrics are soft and stretchy. It is a knitted fabric (which allows it to move) unlike cotton fabrics, which is woven and more stable. Jersey is usually made from a mix of fibres, a stable fibre (e.g. cotton, viscose, tencel) and a stretchy synthetic fibre (e.g. elastane, spandex). However, due to the fact it is knitted, you can buy 100% cotton jersey fabric.

Jersey comes in a variety of finishes. The most common types are :
Single knit – a basic jersey fabric, usually made with cotton, viscose or tencel. Basic t-shirts are made of single knit jersey.
French terry – this fabric is knitted to create lots of little loops on the reverse of the fabric. It is a thicker fabric and great for making tops.
Sweatshirt – the reverse of this fabric has a fluffy, brushed fleece finish, which mean the fabric is warm and soft. It is great for making sweatshirts! No suprise there!
Ponte roma – a double layer jersey fabric that means the fabric is thicker and more stable. This fabric is ideal for trousers, skirts and even jackets.
Ribbing – this is a very stretchy fabric with a ribbed finish and is typically used for cuffs, hem bands and neckbands.

Is jersey fabric good for dressmaking?

Jersey fabrics are great for dressmaking with it being soft and stretchy, you can achieve a great finish that looks fabulous when worn. In saying this though, you do need to follow a couple of basic principles:

Choose the right sewing pattern. Make sure you pick a pattern especially for knitted fabrics. These patterns are designed to take the properties of stretchy fabrics into account when making up the garment and can be easier to make as they usually don’t have zips and buttons.

Set your sewing machine up for jersey fabric. Use a ballpoint or jersey needle (this depends on the type of jersey fabric you are sewing with) to avoid pulls in the fabric and skipped stitches. Pick the right stitch – most commonly this will be a triple stitch on a sewing machine with stretch stitches, or a zig zag stitch on machines that do not have stretch stitches.

Handle jersey fabric carefully. Jersey fabric is stretchy. If you pull the fabric when sewing, you are likely to pull the fabric out of shape which will spoil the fit. Of course there are times when you need to stretch the fabric – just make sure you read the pattern carefully before you start to sew.

Is jersey fabric hard to sew?

Jersey fabrics are easy to sew with as long as you follow some basic principles. Doing this will mean you will get great finishes to your jersey garments every time:

Use the right type of sewing machine needle – use either a stretch or jersey sewing machine needle. Both have a ballpoint designed to push the threads of the fabric aside when sewing. Generally you use stretch needles on stretchy fabrics with a higher elastic thread content. Use jersey needles on more stable knitted fabrics. However, this is not an exact rule. It is best to test both needle types on a sample of the fabric before starting a new project.

Choose the right stitch – if your sewing machine has stretch stitches, use one of these. The most common stitch to use is the triple stitch. This is an overlapping stitch that moves with stretchy fabric. If your machine does not have stretch stitches you can use a small zig zag stitch to sew your fabric. This stitch will also move with the fabric.

However there is now a new option for sewing jersey fabric. Until recently if I was asked ‘can I use a straight stitch to sew jersey fabric?‘ I would have said that it is not possible to do this. This is no longer the case! Recently Gutermann have released a new thread called Maraflex. This thread is a flexible polyester thread which flexes with the jersey fabric as it moves. It is now possible to use a straight stitch to sew jersey as long as you use Maraflex thread and the right sewing machine needle! Read our blog post on sewing with Maraflex thread.

Handle jersey fabric with care – remember if you pull the fabric – or allow it to stretch – when you are sewing, it will contract or pucker when you have finished. Keep it stable and use lots of pins!

What can I make with jersey fabric?

You can make pretty much any clothing with jersey! Just remember though to use a sewing pattern for stretch fabrics.