If you’re looking for a fabric that is similar to cotton but has a bit more natural stretch to it, then jersey fabric may be just what you’re looking for. It has uses in both apparel and home textiles, so it is a very versatile fabric choice. But what is jersey fabric exactly, and why should you consider using it?
Jersey is a single knit cotton fabric that is both stretchy and soft. The stretch is natural due to how the fabric is knit, so it does not require elastic fibers to make it more stretchy. The most common use for jersey fabric is to make t-shirts and bedsheets.
Before you use a fabric for the first time, of course, you’ll want to know everything there is to know about it. That’s why I’ve created this guide to jersey fabric. I’ll share with you the properties of the fabric and how to sew it and care for it, along with any other information that is good to know.
What is Jersey Fabric?Jersey fabric has its origins on the island of Jersey in the English Channel. The fabric was used to make the pullover sweaters that fishermen used to wear. Because it gets cold and windy in that area, especially while out at sea, jersey fabric was originally made from wool.
By the mid-1800s, jersey fabric had become more popular for men’s clothing, particularly sports uniforms. But, it was also used to make men’s work clothing and underwear as well. The overall uses of the fabric were limited because it was seen more as a casual fabric that wasn’t luxurious by any means.
Fashion designer Coco Chanel can be credited with the increased use of jersey fabric. In 1916, she used it to make garments that were considered to be more classy. People still associated the fabric with casual garments or underwear, but over time, Chanel’s garments became more popular and led to other designers using the fabric.
Today, the use of jersey fabric is widespread due to being soft, breathable, and stretchy without the need to add additional fibers to the fabric. One of the most common uses is t-shirts due to the comfort level to the wearer that jersey fabric creates.
What Is Jersey Fabric Made Of?
Although it was traditionally made from wool, wool is not the most common material used to make jersey fabric today. This is mostly because the fabric has increased in popularity and wool is not as widely available, is more expensive, and is harder to care for than other fabrics.
Today, jersey fabric is mostly made from cotton. But, it can also be made from synthetic fibers such as polyester or a blend of cotton or polyester. No matter what type of fibers the fabric is made of, the process for making the fabric is the same.
If the fabric is made from synthetic fibers, the fibers first have to be created. But, no matter which type of fiber jersey fabric is made from, the individual fibers have to be sorted and cleaned to ensure consistency.
Jersey fabric is a knitted fabric, so after the synthetic or cotton fibers are sorted and cleaned, they are loaded into a knitting machine. The fabric can be knitted by hand, but this is a tedious and time-consuming process.
It’s much easier for the machine to knit the structure that creates the fabric. The structure consists of twisted vertical yarns and untwisted horizontal yarns, which you should be able to see when you look at the fabric closely.
Once the knitting process is finished, the fabric is dyed. It can then be left untreated or treated with a flame-retardant coating or other chemicals for durability. The treatments that the fabric receives just depend on the type of fiber that it is made from.
Types of Jersey Fabric
There are two types of jersey fabric. Both are knit fabrics, but one is single-knit and the other is double-knit. Single-knit is the standard jersey fabric that is most often used, but the double-knit jersey fabric has some characteristics that are slightly different. Let’s look at the differences between the two so that you can pick the right fabric for your project.
Single KnitNo products found.Single-knit jersey fabric is slightly thinner than double-knit. The fabric has a v-shaped pattern on the front of it and is a little bit more stretchy. Because it is thinner, it is more lightweight and has more drape to it.
There are many different varieties of single-knit jersey fabric, depending on the type of fibers that it is made of. For example, viscose jersey, cotton jersey, polyester jersey, and single-knit jersey fabrics are made from blended fibers.
The characteristics of each of these types of single-knit jersey fabrics are slightly different from each other. But I’ll discuss that in more detail in the next section.
Double KnitDouble-knit jersey fabric is knitted on both sides of the fabric. You’ll see the same pattern no matter which side you look at. This type of jersey fabric is usually thicker and more durable.
Double-knit jersey fabrics don’t tend to drape as much and often aren’t as stretchy as single-knit. The uses for the fabric are a bit different. There are two main types: Ponti jersey and interlock jersey. And as with the single-knit fabrics, the properties of each jersey fabric are slightly different from each other.
What Are The Properties of Jersey Fabric?
The properties of jersey fabric vary based on the exact type of fiber the fabric is made of and whether the fabric is single-knit or double-knit. But because it is a knit fabric, jersey fabric, in general, is usually stretchy, soft, and breathable. Other characteristics such as durability, absorbency, and versatility depending on the exact fiber type.
StretchinessMost jersey fabrics have a good bit of stretch to them regardless of what they are made of. But single-knit jersey fabrics made from cotton and viscose have more stretch than if they are made from polyester. Single-knit fabrics also have more stretch than double-knit fabrics simply because the fabric is thinner and more flexible.
Single-knit cotton and viscose jersey fabrics have so much stretch that they can sometimes stretch out of shape. As a result, those fibers are sometimes blended with a small percentage of elastane. The elastane helps the fabric return to its original shape more easily.
Another favorable quality of jersey fabric is that it is incredibly soft. But again, the exact softness depends on the type of fiber used to make it. Natural fibers such as cotton tend to be softer than synthetic fibers such as polyester. With that being said, cotton and viscose jersey fabrics have a softer texture than polyester jersey fabrics.
Jersey fabrics are also very breathable because the knitted pattern allows air to circulate more freely between the fibers. But natural fibers are also more breathable than synthetic fibers. Although a polyester jersey is a very breathable fabric, cotton jersey fabric is even more breathable. The breathability of the fabric can also help determine what it is used for.
The knitted construction of jersey fabric has very little to do with its absorbency or moisture-wicking properties. If you want a jersey fabric that is more absorbent or moisture-wicking, you’ll need to choose a fabric made from a specific type of fiber.
Cotton is more absorbent, but polyester is more moisture-wicking. If you’re considering jersey fabric for sewing fabric, you’ll want to consider the type of clothing you want to make. For example, if you want to make sportswear, you’ll want the clothing to be moisture-wicking instead of absorbent, so polyester jersey fabric is best.
Knit fabrics tend to be more wrinkle-resistant, especially if the fabrics are double-knitted and thicker. But thinner jersey fabric made from certain materials can still wrinkle some, especially if you leave it in the dryer for too long. Cotton and viscose may wrinkle more than polyester.
Jersey fabrics are very durable in general and tend to last a long time with proper care. But, depending on the type of fibers they are made from, some jersey fabrics can shrink when washed or stretch out of shape, especially if they are made from cotton or viscose. Polyester jersey fabric tends to be more durable and won’t stain, shrink, or become misshapen as much.
The final property that makes jersey fabric so appealing is its versatility. Jersey fabric does have more popular uses, but because there are so many different types, it can be used to make pretty much any type of clothing you can think of. You just have to pick a fabric material with the right properties for what you’re trying to make.
What Is Jersey Fabric Used For?
Jersey fabric is most commonly used to make t-shirts, but it can also be used to make sportswear, sweatpants and sweatshirts, underwear, and bedding and sheets. Let’s look at specific types of jersey fabric to see which variety is recommended for which type of clothing.
Viscose jersey is a single-knit jersey fabric that has a lightweight feel and is very drapey. But it is very stretchy and can lose its shape easily, so it is often blended with spandex or elastane to help it retain its shape. That’s why it is best used for tops, dresses, and loose-fitting pants that need to drape more but keep their shape.
Polyester jersey is a single-knit jersey fabric made from synthetic polyester fibers. It is lightweight and isn’t the softest type of jersey fabric, but it has a smooth feel. It is cheaper than other jersey fabrics and comes in a wide range of color choices. It’s mostly used for sportswear because of its increased durability and moisture-wicking properties.
French Terry Jersey
French terry jersey fabric is single-knit and usually made from cotton and elastane or cotton and polyester blend. The texture is a bit different because it has a smooth side and a looped back side. It is a medium-weight fabric that is used for sweaters, sweatshirts, and sweatpants.
Sweater Knit Jersey
As the name implies, sweater knit jersey fabric is used to make sweaters and hoodies. It is heavier than other fabrics, so it is warmer while still being soft. It also typically has a fleecy side and a smooth side. The fleece back side aids in warmth. Sweater knit jersey fabric is typically made from polyester.
Ponti Knit Jersey
Ponti is a type of double-knit jersey fabric with medium weight and a good amount of stretch. It is usually made of polyester and spandex or elastane and returns to its original shape very well. Because of these characteristics, it is typically used for more formal skirts, pants, or dresses.
Interlock jersey is a double-knit fabric that is usually made from 100% cotton. It is thick and a bit stiffer, but it has some stretch to it. It is a warmer fabric, so it is usually used for baby clothes, pajamas, and thicker t-shirts.
What Is Cotton Jersey?Cotton jersey is one of the most popular and widely used types of jersey fabric. It is usually single-knit and made from 100% cotton or a cotton and spandex or elastane blend. The spandex/elastane helps to keep it from stretching out of shape.
Cotton jersey is soft and warm. It is lightweight but tends to be thicker than other types of jersey fabric. It has a cool feel against the skin and it is very breathable. These properties make it a popular fabric choice for t-shirts, dresses, and pajamas, especially those you would wear in the summer.
How to Sew Jersey Fabric
If you’ve never used jersey fabric before, knowing how to sew with it is important to don’t mess up your project. Here are some tips that can help you.
Select the Right Fabric
The first step for sewing with jersey fabric is to select the right fabric material for your project. The information above can help you, but you’ll also want to consider that some jersey fabrics that have more stretch to them are harder for beginners to sew with, especially viscose.
You’ll also want to consider the type of garment you’re making, as well as how much it needs to stretch or drape. Then, select the color or pattern you like and ensure you get enough of the fabric for your project.
Pre-Wash the Fabric
If the fabric you choose is made from cotton, viscose, or another fabric that is prone to shrinking, you’ll want to pre-wash it first. Pre-washing is important for making sure that any shrinkage that might occur happens before you sew with it. That way, you’ll know exactly what you’re working with and won’t have to worry about as much shrinkage later.
Use the Right Sewing Machine Settings
Once you’re ready to sew your jersey fabric, the first thing you’ll need to use is a ballpoint needle. Ballpoint needles have a slightly rounded tip, which allows them to slip through the fibers easily without pulling them or ripping them.
A walking foot on your sewing machine is recommended for stretchy fabrics such as jersey knits. This is because they can move both layers of fabric at the same time, which prevents the fabric from stretching too much.
Straight stitches are not best for stretch fabrics because they don’t allow the seams to stretch with the fabric. This can cause the stitches to break and become unraveled. Instead, you’ll want to use a zig-zag stitch so that the seams stretch with the fabric and it won’t come unraveled.
For the hems, you’ll want to use a twin needle. Twin needles along with a zig-zag stitch help the hems to stretch more. This makes the hems stronger and helps to keep the garment from coming unhemmed.
How to Care For Jersey Fabric
Once you’ve created your garment, you’ll want to make sure that you care for it properly to make sure that it lasts. One thing about jersey fabric is that it can shrink depending on what it is made of, especially if it is made from cotton. Here are the steps to follow when caring for jersey fabric.
- Set the washing machine to the cool or cold water setting. This will help prevent the fabric from shrinking.
- Use a mild detergent and the normal cycle.
- You can dry it in the dryer as long as you dry it on low or medium heat. Low heat is best for cotton jersey that is prone to shrinking. Medium heat is okay for a polyester jersey. You just want to avoid using high heat because it can shrink or damage the fabric.
- There usually isn’t a need for ironing, but you can iron on the cotton setting if necessary. You’ll likely only have to iron it if you don’t take it out of the dryer when it’s finished.
Jersey Fabric by the Yard
The price of jersey fabric per yard ranges between $3 and $10. Several factors influence the price per yard. These include the material the fabric is made of, the type of knit (single or double), whether the fabric is printed or solid, and where you purchase the fabric from.
Jersey fabric made from cotton or polyester tends to be the cheapest and has the widest range of selection as far as colors and prints go. The type of jersey fabric that you buy can also have different stretch percentages, some of which have up to 50% stretch. The width of the fabric is mostly between 58 and 60 inches.
Jersey fabric is desirable because of its softness and amount of natural stretch. All jersey fabrics are knit fabrics, but there are different versions of jersey fabric with different properties. Understanding the properties of each one can help you make the best decision for your sewing project. If you enjoyed this article, share it with others and leave a comment. Thanks for reading!