I have been writing a monthly column for Sewing world talking about sewing with different types of fabric. The column has now come to an end so I though I would share with you some of my favorite articles. feel free to add any of your own tips underneath, in this game the more help and advice we share the better sewers we become!
Sewing with jersey…
You don’t need to be afraid of sewing knit fabrics. With a few helpful tips it really is a wonderful fabric to sew with.
What is a knit or jersey fabric? Well most fabrics are woven so they have threads running along the length of the fabric (warp) and threads running across the width (weft), these threads weave in and out of each other to make the fabric. With a knit fabric the threads go across the fabric and are looped to the thread above and below to make a fabric (Quite literally knitted together like a jumper). This looping is what gives knitted fabrics their stretch.
Knit fabrics started to become popular after Coco Chanel used them in her famous suits. At the time jersey was primarily used for men’s underwear and Chanel chose to use it due to its cheap cost. However the many benefits of knits fabrics started to become clear and even when she opened her now famous fashion houses in Paris she continued to use the controversial fabric.
What you need to know about sewing with knit fabrics:
You do not need an overlocker to sew with knit fabrics, though it can help. If you don’t have one try some of the stitch techniques below
Knitted fabrics don’t fray like woven fabrics so you can just trim your edges and leave them without finishing
You should always pre wash knit fabrics, as with all fabrics, especially ones with natural fibres in them can shrink. Fabric is also sometimes dressed at manufacture stage which can affect the handle of the fabric. So I always recommend this.
Test different needles and stitches on a small piece of the fabric you will be using before you start on the main piece
Play around with the tension of your thread, often a slightly lower tension will prevent jersey from bunching up
Make sure you know which way you need your knit to stretch. Think about pulling the garment on over your head, shoulders and hips. Cut it the right way and use a stitch that will allow the fabric to stretch without breaking the thread in all areas where you will be pulling on the fabric
A ball point or special jersey needle are perfect when sewing knits. These needles have special rounded ends that will poke in between the threads of the fabric rather than piercing straight through them, jersey can ladder (like a pair of tights) if the thread is damaged like this.
Using a twin needle is another way to get a neat finish to your knit fabric, using a straight stitch it will create a zig zag ion the back and 2 neat rows of straight stitches o n the front. This will allow the fabric to stretch and is a great technique for hemming knit fabrics. Any machine that can do a zig zag stitch should be able to accommodate a twin needle. You will also need to make sure that it has an extra spool holder as you need to thread 2 spools of thread onto the machine.
Use a stretch stitch if you machine has one, this has a very shallow zig zag in it that allows the fabric to stretch without breaking the thread (hint it looks a bit like a lightning bolt). If you don’t have a stretch stitch on your machine, you can use a zigzag on a very low width setting and long stitch length. Perfect for seams that need a bit of give, I use this to attached facings round the neck and arms.
Some machines have a special knit overlock stitch, this is great for joining and finishing knit fabrics.
Zig zag top stitching can add a nice detail and also will allow the fabric to stretch without breaking the stitches.
Want to have a go?
If you are new to sewing with knit and want to have a go i would recommend that you start with a stable knit fabric (This is a jersey fabric with less stretch in it. Test it by pulling the fabric, a stable knit will have little or no stretch in one direction.)
I LOVE the Renfrew top from Sewaholic. This is perfect to people who are new to sewing knits and as it has clever bands and the sleeves and bottom so you don’t need to worry about wobbly hems
Happy sewing and don’t forget to share your tips below xxx