Sewing with Jersey – top tips for sewing success!
If you ever thought about taking up sewing, chances are that you’ve considered jersey as your best starting point. Even though it’s not a bad idea at all, you have to be mindful of all the nuances of knitted fabrics. Jersey fabric will allow you to create stunning pieces, even if you’re beginning your sewing journey. Just stick to our tips and tricks and you’ll be golden!
Why pick jersey as your sewing fabric?
Jersey is an almost ideal sewing fabric, especially for inexperienced sewists. Wide variety of uses pairs up with user-friendliness, meaning you don’t have to create complicated patterns or tons of darts to create something unique and good looking. Of course, jersey has it’s shortcomings – you won’t be able to create complex in form garments that’ll hold any given shape. The added bonus of jersey fabrics made of natural fibres is that it’ll keep you warm in the winter and be breathable during summer.
Direction of stretch
Before you even start cutting and sewing jersey you have to figure out how your fabric stretches. There’s always one way in which your fabric stretches more, so when sewing sleeves or parts of your project that need more elasticity it’s good to keep that in mind. On the other hand, let’s say you want to make a dress. If you want nice drapes in your garment try cutting your fabric on the bias (on diagonal for those less familiar with sewing terms). Always think about the final outcome before you cut!
This is especially important when you’re using fabrics printed with patterns. If you want to create a t-shirt or dress where pattern on the garment will join seamlessly you have to cut it the correct way, sometimes wasting more fabric than you would like to. Use a lot of pins and sew slowly and carefully, checking the two layers of fabric haven’t shifted resulting in an offset pattern.
In creating unique clothing from jersey you can always use an online textile printing house, like CottonBee, where you can print either a pattern from an existing catalogue or your own custom design on to a variety of cotton jersey and knitted fabrics.
Let’s start with the basics. Thorough preparation will decrease your chances of messing up, so don’t skip this step. Choose the right needle for your sewing machine. Jersey needles or ballpoint needles have a ball at the tip instead of a sharp point. This prevents you from ruining the structure of knitted fabrics since regular needles will create tiny tears in your fabric that will get worse as you wear and wash your garment. No special threads are needed when sewing jersey fabrics – your good old polyester threads will do just fine for this task.
Picking a stitch for sewing jersey
When sewing any fabric with some elasticity to it you have to stick to trusted zigzag stitch. If your sewing machine has a dedicated stretch stitch choose this one instead. Some mid to high-class sewing machines have overlocking stitch. With an overlocking presser foot, you can create hems almost identical to those achieved on overlockers without the need of buying one for your sewing station. You can forget about straight stitch altogether if you want your garment to remain stretchable without ripping seams.
While sewing jersey you may find it hard to evenly stretch your hems and sew a precise stitch. The answer here is a twin needle. Most sewing machines are able to accommodate for a twin needle and what it does is create two rows of identical straight stitches at the top of your fabric while making a zigzag on the bottom. This keeps your hems stretchable and prevents your threads from snapping.
Avoiding stretched seams
It’s worth noting that not all jersey fabrics stretch the same amount. Some of them have just a little stretch, while others have a lot of elasticity to them. The more stretchy your fabric the more challenge it is to sew it properly. Your seams may buckle and roll if you stretch your material too much while sewing. The best way to aid that is installing a walking foot in your machine. A walking foot will move both the top and bottom layers of your fabric at the same time. You won’t need to stretch or guide it through as the foot will do it for you. This simple addition will ensure that all your hems will be nice and straight.
Spray starch for rolling fabric
Probably the worst part of working with knitted fabrics is rolling. When hemming, the raw edges of the fabric tend to roll up, which for one is annoying, but mostly is really not helpful when you aim for precise and neat finishes. A simple fix would be using spray starch on your fabric and pressing it with an iron. Starch is used to stiffen and stabilise the fabric, so it won’t roll. With that little trick, sewing jersey will be that much easier. After you’re done just throw your piece in the wash and you’re good to go.
With these tips and tricks you should be able to sew any knitted fabric just fine. And always remember, if anything goes wrong just try it again and again until you master it. Practice makes perfect and it couldn’t be more true in case of working with jersey.