Let’s hear it for jersey!
Now then, hands up: who likes wearing jersey but is a bit shy about making something with it? Yes, I see a few hands up there. ‘It’s tricky to work with!’ ‘Too slippy and stretchy!’ ‘It moves too much when you cut it!’ And so on.
Well, yes and no. Yes, it needs some forethought before tackling it. But let’s take a minute to see how jersey can be made to work for you. It’s not that daunting with some careful planning.
First of all, you need the right pattern, one geared specifically to a stretchy material. Choosing just any pattern that takes your fancy is going to pose problems. There are plenty goods ones around. Try 6051 or 5354 from Butterick and 1160 or 1368 from Simplicity as good ones to get you started. They also often include some helpful hints on working with jersey.
Choosing your FABRIC
Then you need to find the right jersey for the job. Not all jersey is created equal! The most common types of jersey used are plain knits – which have a flat surface that looks like a series of interlocking ‘V’ shapes, and double knits – a thicker, firmer knit that will resist runs and suits a more structured garment.
The back of your pattern envelope will usually have a guide to help pick the amount of stretch recommended for that particular pattern. Look for the 'PICK-A-KNIT' guide.
Since jersey is given to some movement when it is cut, you need to take your time with your cutting out. It just cannot be hurried. And the scissors must be sharp. If your fabric is larger than your cutting surface it’s a good idea to fold or roll up the excess fabric onto the table. This will prevent the weight of the extra fabric pulling on the area being cut out and stretching it out of shape. Be sure to keep your fabric as flat as possible when pinning on your pattern and cutting out. Use your free hand to hold the pattern pieces and fabric extra secure while you cut.
Still not having success? Another option is to invest in a rotary cutter, cutting mat, and pattern weights. This way you don’t have to pick up your fabric at all when cutting out- reducing the risk of stretching even further.
Then we’re ready to start sewing! Again, just a little preparation beforehand will make your life so much easier. Instead of a regular sewing machine needle, you will need a ballpoint, or stretch, needle. This will help to avoid skipped stitches you might get with a regular needle.
Set up your machine to sew a very narrow zig-zag stitch (about 0.5 wide on your dial). This means you will sew a seam with an almost straight stitch which will also give when the fabric naturally stretches. You may also be lucky enough to have a machine with a specialised stretch stitch. In that case check your user manual on how to setup your machine properly. You can use regular polyester thread with both of these stitch options.
Jersey also works very well with an overlocker. A 4-thread stitch will allow you to sew a seam, finish and cut off any excess all in one fell swoop. Alternatively, sew your seams with your sewing machine and use a 3-thread stitch on your overlocker to finish the seams.
Don’t have an overlocker? All is not lost! You can finish your seams with a zigzag stitch (wider this time, 2.5- 3.5 on your dial), jersey bias tape (which we keep in stock now!), or using a twin needle.
So there you have it! Not so scary after all. Armed with these basics and a little patience you can be a jersey pro in no time! Then the only problem is choosing which jersey to use! Browse our online shop for inspiration here!
The team at FF x