How to Sew Jersey Fabric

The jersey fabrics are pleasant to wear and the trade offers very beautiful models. Nevertheless, because of their elasticity and flexibility, sewing these fabrics can be frightening. We propose you to discover everything you need to know to sew jersey and to start creating jersey clothes or accessories without necessarily owning a serger.

What is jersey fabric?

The jersey is often used for the realization of T-shirts, children’s clothing, etc… It is more precisely a fabric with a certain type of mesh. It is knitted with threads of different thicknesses according to the desired result. What characterizes it is its front side which is composed of V-shaped stitches while the back side is composed of bridge-shaped stitches.

The jersey can be made with natural, synthetic or artificial fiber yarns. It is also possible to mix these different fibers according to the desired properties.

  • The most common is cotton jersey. It is also quite simple to sew. We appreciate its ease of maintenance and comfort.
  • For a garment that is closer to the body, you should opt for a cotton elastane jersey. It is then more stretchy.
  • Linen jersey, like bamboo jersey, is made of natural fibers. Its properties are close to those of cotton jersey.
  • Fleece jersey is thicker and less elastic. Therefore, it can be sewn more easily. There are different variations, lighter versions for all seasons, others warmer, …
  • The viscose jersey is more difficult to work, but enjoys a nice fall.
  • Ponti Roma or Milano jersey also have a nice fall. A particular technique is necessary to work them.

To simplify your beginnings, opt for a medium thickness jersey. A thin jersey will tend to roll.

Preparing the Jersey for sewing

If you wish to use jersey to make a garment, it is preferable to choose a pattern adapted to a realization in a jersey fabric. Then follow these various steps:

  • First, wash your coupon, because it is a fabric that tends to shrink. It is better to do it before it is transformed!
  • To make sure that each element has the same elasticity, you should then check the direction of the fabric. And yes, jersey has a meaning, and to recognize it, you just have to find out in which direction your fabric is stretchy. Then it is the width. The straight yarn is in the same direction as the V. Make sure to respect this straight thread, otherwise, your garment will twist with each wash.
  • Then pin your fabric. Be careful not to stretch your fabric at this moment, because once the pins are removed the fabric will return to its original shape and the elements will no longer match.
  • You can then trace the contours of your pattern by respecting the indications for the sewing values. In order to be able to draw without deforming or damaging the fabric, it is best to use a “soft” tool that does not require too much pressure.
  • Finally, you can proceed to the cutting process. If you have one, use a rotary cutter. Otherwise, be careful when cutting with a chisel so as not to risk deforming your elements.

Which material to use?

To sew jersey, the simplest way is to use a serger. This way, you can sew, overcast, and cut in one pass and the seam will be adapted to stretchy fabrics.

However, if you don’t own one, it is still possible to sew jersey with a sewing machine. For this, you need to equip yourself with a jersey needle. The end of this one is slightly rounded so as not to risk damaging your fabric.

Then, you will have to determine its size:

  • from 60 to 80 for a fine jersey,
  • from 80 to 90 for an average jersey,
  • from 90 to more for a thick jersey.

For the bobbin, you can opt for a foam yarn, but you should not use it as a top yarn. This will result in a more stretchy and softer seam.

How do I sew jersey?

Start by pinning the different elements. It is also possible to thread them in, as you are used to.

When everything is ready, you can start sewing. When sewing stretch fabric, the main rule is to let the fabric move at its own pace. Do not pull on the fabric under any circumstances, as this will distort the fabric or stretch the seam. You must only guide it.

If you want to sew jersey more often, it is better to use a double feed foot, which has the advantage of making it easier to feed the fabric under the presser foot. If you don’t want to invest, one solution is to reduce the pressure of the presser foot or to slide a tissue paper underneath.

When choosing the stitch to be used, you can check in the operating instructions of your machine whether a specific stitch is provided for this purpose. Nevertheless, you can use :

  • the straight stitch to assemble the elements. The result will be seams that are not elastic, for example for the sides or shoulders. However, by using the foam thread as seen above, sufficient elasticity is achieved. Make sure to choose stitches of approx. 2.5 mm. This way they will not be too small or too big;
  • The zig-zag stitch will be used for seams that need to remain elastic such as the collar, for example. You can set the stitch to 2.5 mm long and 1 mm wide ;
  • the overlock stitch allows not only to sew, but also to overcast at the same time ;
  • the stretch stitch is not available on all machines, but it is not very nice. However, it allows you to sew while keeping the elasticity.

Some highly stressed seams, such as those on the shoulders, can be reinforced with an extra jersey band or cotton twill sewn on the back of the fabric. The jersey does not necessarily need to be overcast as it does not fray. To make a hem, simply stitch it with a zigzag stitch or double needle stitch.

In the latter case, two top threads must be installed either on the two places provided or you can possibly superimpose them.