Sew Along: How to sew jersey fabrics

Hi!

Today´s post is about learning the best techniques and the supplies you need to sew jersey fabrics before we start sewing our Anise Pattern.

 

 

If you have never sewn garments with elasticity, the jersey fabrics are the best option to start with. Before start sewing with jersey fabrics, you need to take about different factors, such as your supplies and the sewing procedure.  The main points you need to have in mind to sew jersey fabrics are:

1. NEEDLES: always use a ball pointed needle, or a jersey needle for your sewing machine. Its size will depend on the fabric thickness.

2. THREAD: use good quality threads, durable and thin threads, such as silk, nylon and polyester threads.

3. TECHNIQUES: your sewing needs also to provide elasticity to your fabric in the places it needs it more (like for example, the rise of the pants). There are different ways to achieve these stitches with some elasticity:

* Straight stitch pulling the fabric softly as you sew.

* Zigzag and very narrow stitch and a long length.

* Elastic stitch, provided but your own sewing machine.

* Overlocker stitch.

 

MATERIALS


To sew jersey fabrics, the supplies you use are one of the most important parts. If you don´t use the proper ones, your final garment won´t look nice, or even the seams will rip.

1. THREADS: as we told you before, use threads with elasticity, not elastic threads! The best thing is to use polyester thread. If it is a bit thin, it will be better, such as  Gutermann MARA 120 thread, or any polyester thread you can find at your local haberdashery, but never cotton thread.

 

 

2. JERSEY NEEDLES: this kind of needles are ball pointed needles or jersey needles and avoid to create holes in the fabric and to skip stitches while sewing. There is more variety of needles for elastic fabrics, but they are for those that have a higher elasticity.

3. TWIN NEEDLE: It is used to create elastic seams that imitate the overlock ones. This needle is perfect for hemlines, it makes zig-zag stitches on the wrong side of the fabric and straight stitches on the right side of the fabric, finishing the edges. These needles are also ball pointed needles or jersey needles.

 

 

4. INTERFACING: sometimes we need to make a part of the garment thicker, so we use jersey interface fabric or jersey lining.  We also use fiseline (1cm width interfacing with reinforcement chain) If you don´t have fiseline, you can use interfacing or lining and cut out pieces of that thickness.

5. WALKING PRESSER FOOT: a regular sewing machine only drag the lower fabric, but this presser also drags the upper fabric, which makes perfect and even seams. It is not essential, but it helps a lot.

 

 

 

STITCHS


We have already talked about the four main options you have to get elastic seams.  You have to choose between them depending on many factors, such as the type of fabric, the sewing machine you have and also you sewing skills. We recommend you:

1. Straight stitch: this is the hold and pull technique. It requires good sewing skills because you need to hold one end of your fabric while pulling from the other end while sewing. Using this technique, once you finish sewing this stitch/seam helps the elasticity of the fabric and it recovers its form.

2. Zigzag stitch: very narrow and long stitch. You achieve a slightly elastic stitch. This seam is perfect for fabrics wich elasticity is around 20-25%, such as cotton jersey fabrics.

3. Elastic stitch: follow your sewing machine instructions to choose the elastic stitch you need. If the garment/fabric do not require high elasticity, just use techniques 1 or 2.

4. Overlock: the overlock stitches are elastic stitches. This kind of machines requires specific skills to use them. If you have one, use techniques 1 and 2 to sew and the overlocker to finish the seams.

The easiest technique you can use is the zigzag one combined with technique 4, the overlock, to finish the seams. You should make some tests before, in a piece of fabric to find out the perfect elastic seam, so once you open the seam you don´t see holes in it. Start your testing using a 2.5mm length and 0.5mm width stitch.

 

 

If while using any of these seams you find out the fabric gathers, you have two options:

1. Reduce, a little bit, the upper thread tension.

2. Reduce, a little bit, the presser foot tension (if your sewing machine allows you that)

3. If your sewing machine tends to “eat” your fabric, use some tissue paper between the fabric and your sewing machine.

 

CUTTING TECHNIQUES


Cutting jersey/knits fabrics could be a little bit more difficult than the ones which does not have elasticity, specially the thin ones. You can use regular scissors, but you should take into account:

1. Put some weight on your fabrics, even if you use pins. If you use weights the fabric will be more secure and you will cut more precisely.

2. Use a cutting table and a rotary cutter, if you have one.  For jersey fabrics, a cutter is more precise, but use scissors if you don´t feel confident enough using the cutter.

3. Mark all the notches, darts etc using a special fabric marker. If you make the notch using scissors you can distort the fabric.

 

FINAL TIPS


We know we have told you many things today, a lot of information, tips and tricks, but don´t be scare! If you just use the following tips, your final garments will look amazing. As you go forward in your sewing skills, start introducing all these tips and info. These are the ones we will be using in this  Anise Pattern Sew Along:

1. We will use fusible fiseline to staystitch the neckline and avoid distortion. The neckline will lose elasticity, but it is not necessary for this area. Once we apply the fiseline we will use a straight stitch.

2. In the hemline, we will use the TWIN NEEDLE technique, which stitches are elastic and avoid distortion while sewing.

 

 

3. For lateral hems and the cuff ones, we will use straight stitches, holding one side and slightly pulling the fabric as you sew. You can also use the zigzag stitch.

4. For the collar, you can use the same fabric of a special one for that area, like the ones you use for cuffs in sweatshirts. In any case, the length of the collar is smaller than the length of the neckline, so you have to pull as you sew.  The pattern is done in fabrics with a 20-30% elasticity recovery, so if you are using more elastic fabrics, like 50% or more, measure the neckline length and multiply it by 0,70 and that will be the length of your collar pattern.

 

 


And that´s everything for our general tips so your final jersey garments look perfect. You will see all of them applied during the sew along.

We start sewing really soon so remember that if you still don´t have the patterns you can get them HERE, and you can also get them in a pack, with the amount of fabric you need thanks to Irene from SlowTaller and the amazing  PAKCS she has prepared.

See you in the next post!


 

3 Comments

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Barbara Harris@sewingmachinesview.comreply
19/01/2020 at 08:10

Hi, I thought this was so helpful. I’m a new sewer and was so happy to see that sewing a ruffle isn’t too hard. I have one question. After pulling the thread, how do you secure it? Do you tie it off? Let me know. Thanks

Jennreply
13/06/2019 at 15:10

The aesthetics of this post are lovely, but there are loads of typos. They were a distraction for me, I’m sorry.

Jennreply
13/06/2019 at 15:09

The aesthetics of this post are lovely, but they’re are loads of typos. They were a distraction for me, I’m sorry.

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