We pick up our series featuring must-have spring fabrics with a look at one of our favorite categories, jersey knits! Shirtings may be an essential woven fabric in most handmade wardrobes; however, jersey knits are their equal but opposite counterpart. From their construction and behavior to their look and feel, jersey knits could not be more different from their woven sibling, and yet they find a similar home in our closets and suitable for many of the same garments. Magic, right? Most certainly, yes!
Jersey is a specific group of knit fabrics that are light to medium weight and are very tightly knitted. They are created using a single strand of yarn, they have one flat side and one piled side (Knitters, think Stockinette stitch) and are known for their considerable about of stretch. Jersey knits are also very soft, breathable, and have some degree of drape. And the close knit gives them a nice structure and stability, while the amazing stretch lets the fabric easily contour to the body to fit as needed.
These properties make jersey knits an excellent choice for underwear, dresses, and everything in between. Although classic t-shirts, layering tanks, and comfy wrap dresses will always be the favorites sewists come back to time and time again. For spring, current styles remain a bit slouchy/oversized or feature details such as unusual necklines, asymmetric cut-outs, and more.
Sharing our love of jersey knits is Cassie (@cassannebarry) and Michelle (@itssewtherapeutic)! Both sewed up lovely spring dresses and couldn’t wait to share the stunning results. Here is a look at their gorgeous makes and a few thoughts they have about working with jersey knits.
Details about Cassie’s Outfit—Fabric: Hilltop Floral Digital Print Jersey, Pattern: Cashmerette’s Appleton Dress (The only modification made to the pattern was to create more of a 3/4-length bishop sleeve with elastic in the sleeve hems.)
Cassie commented, “I love sewing with jersey knits because they make fitting clothes easier and more flexible!” In particular, she notes that they are “great for changing body sizes and growing kids” since fit doesn’t need to be exact—the fabric stretches and moves with you, unlike with most wovens. Plus, “It’s also one of the easiest knits to sew with!”
While jersey knit dresses for herself and her daughter are always at the top of her sewing list, Cassie mentioned that “Jersey knit is perfect for sewing undies and bras and cozy pajamas, too.” She added, “You can really do SO much with it. Basically, in my everyday life, jersey knit is the most practical and versatile type of fabric to use.” And we wholeheartedly agree!
Michelle agrees with Cassie about how forgiving Jersey knits can be. She says, “As much as I try to not mess up on a project, sometimes I do. Knits are like that good friend that says, ‘It’s ok, I got you.’ Their stretch gives you a little wiggle room for mistakes that doesn’t exist with wovens.” An added bonus, right?!
Michelle loves sewing “just about anything” with jersey knits, but her favorite garments include leggings, pajamas, and athletic wear. She remarked, “I’m all for being stylish, but being comfortable is just as important to me. I can’t look and feel my best if I’m not comfortable in what I’m wearing.” That is something we should all remind ourselves now and then!
When sewing with jersey knits, rule number one is to always use a ballpoint or jersey sewing machine needle. These rounded tip needles slip between the stitches and prevent any yarn breakage. And while sergers are the preferred method for sewing knits, transitional machines will also get the job done beautifully. Michelle mentions that using a walking foot is very helpful!
Another important rule when working with jersey knits is Press, Press, Press. It can be easy to jump to the next step, but taking the time to press each seam as you go will make a huge difference in your finished garment. Cassie remarks, “I iron/steam pretty much every seam after I sew or serge it when I’m working with knits to keep it from looking wavy.”
Like wovens, jersey knits are available in a wide variety of styles—solids, prints, stripes; you name it! They also come in all different fiber contents, which can drastically change the look and feel of the knit. For example, cotton/spandex jersey, like the ones Cassie and Michelle used, has more structure and a bit less drape. On the other hand, rayon/spandex jersey will be softer and drapier.
Keep this in mind when planning out your garment, and how you want the finished result to look so you can find the perfect fabric! Also, we always recommend getting a jersey knit with spandex in the mix for good recovery. You don’t want your sleeves getting all stretched out as you wear them!
Find a full range of jersey knits available now in our shop! Maybe you need to fill your closet with basic solid tees? Or perhaps you want to mix a pop of color or a fun print with your wardrobe staples? We’ve got you covered! Also, check out our selection of indie patterns designed specifically for knits for more inspiration.
Next up in our spring kick-off series, everyone’s favorite warm-weather fabric…LINEN!