What is Jersey Fabric and How Can I Use It?
Jersey fabric is defined by the way it is constructed, being a knitted, stretch fabric rather than a stable woven material. Often called jersey knit, jersey is made by knitting yarns in loops which is how the fabric gets it's stretch. In comparison, a typical woven fabric is made by weaving yarns of weft thread over and under the warp yarns which makes a more structured fabric with little to no stretch. Jersey fabric is therefore not as stable as woven fabric which makes it ideal for making clothes for children, sports wear, pyjamas and lounge wear as it has plenty of give for wriggling and moving about in!
Jersey fabric originates from the Island of Jersey in the Channel Islands. It was originally made with a thicker yarn and used to make heavy clothing for fishermen to protect them from the harsh elements.
Later, the French designer Coco Chanel was named by Vogue as “The Original Jersey Girl”. In a time where silk and satin were favoured but hard to source, she shocked the Paris Elite with her daring fabric choice when making sports inspired women’s wear. The modern versions of jersey are lighter, more pliable and contain other materials such as elastane to make them soft and stretchy. There are many types of jersey available now and you’re probably wearing some of it right now!
Coco Chanel in Jersey
Cotton Jersey Fabrics
Many jersey fabrics are made of either cotton or cotton blend, often being mixed with a smaller quantity of polyester. They are usually combined with 5% elastane to increase the stretch. Soft and durable, cotton jersey is a breathable, flexible material which makes it one of the most widely used options for childrenswear.
Some of our cotton jerseys are organic, look for GOTS in the title which stands for Global Organic Textile Standard, meaning the fabric has been certified by this board as 100% organic.
Cotton jerseys are suitable for an array of different uses but they do come in different weights and types. Read on for further information of different types of jerseys to ensure you choose the right one for your sewing project.
So What is Melange?
Melange is a technique for producing fabrics where an undyed yarn is mixed with a dyed yarn to create a unique colour effect. Especially common in plain coloured jerseys, melange stops the colour looking flat and makes for a more interesting and eye catching finished product.
Single Jersey Fabric
Single jersey is the lightest weight of all the jersey fabrics and the most widely available. This material has a lot of stretch and the edges often roll when it is cut which can make it difficult to handle when cutting and sewing. Due to it's weight, this material is suitable for both summer and winter wear.
Single jersey is suitable for making t-shirts, baby clothing such as baby grows, children’s leggings, pyjamas, women’s and men’s light casual wear, girl's dresses and yoga clothing.
French Terry Fabrics
French Terry is another type of jersey which is knitted to give stretch. It is a slightly heavier fabric to single jersey as it is knitted in loops with a soft yarn pile on the back whilst the right side of the fabric is smooth. This looping on the back makes it absorbent which is why it is a popular choice for sportswear. It is a medium weight fabric that is suitable for layering and can be worn all year round.
French terry is named as such due to the looped knit being similar to terry towelling but the two fabrics are very different. Terry towelling generally has the looping on the right side and the looping does not lay flat.
French terry is suitable for making many types of sportswear garments such as sweatshirts, sweaters, hoodies, jogging bottoms, shorts, pyjamas and durable children's wear such as baby grows.
Soft Sweat Jersey Fabrics
Soft sweat jersey comes with a variety of different stretch levels but it's key difference to other jersey fabrics is that the backing is brushed so it has a very luxurious quality to it. By brushing the backing, the fabric is very soft against the skin and the layer of brushed cotton on the back provides an extra layer of warmth.
This fabric is great for making winter garments due to the extra layer of warmth it provides. It can be used in the same way as the single jerseys although some soft sweats may have a little less stretch so it is always worth asking before you buy.