by Shannon Gifford
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Jersey is a light to medium weight knit with beautiful drape. The fiber content can range from wool to silk to rayon, and may include synthetic for added strength. This fabric is so beautiful and classic, it is a perennial favorite for designers.
Your pretreatment of jersey (and your care for your final garment) will depend greatly on the fiber content. While synthetic jerseys and blends can often be washed on a delicate cycle, natural fibers such as wool and silk jerseys will be best cared for by hand-washing. Test a sample of your fabric to determine which will be the best care method for your jersey garment.
Needles and Thread:
Use a stretch 75/11 needle for seams, a twin 2.5/75 needle for double-needle hems. Polyester thread or cotton/covered polyester are good thread choices for jersey.
Seams, Seam Finishes, and Hems:
A seam that stretches is your goal. Use a small zigzag on a conventional machine (2.0 length, 1.5 width) or use your machine’s built in “stretch stitch”. This “stretch stitch” is actually a triple backstitch, which has the ability to move with the stretch of the fabric when it is worn. If you have a serger, use a 3 or 4 thread balanced tension stitch for seams. Jersey does not ravel, so seam finishes are not necessary. Hems in jersey are beautiful when done by machine. Use a twin needle (2.5/75) for topstitching, or if you have a coverstitch machine, use it!
A soft knit interfacing such as So-Sheer is a good choice for interfacing. Be sure to match the stretch of the interfacing to the stretch of the fabric.
Anything that resembles a fine sweater, such as turtlenecks, tanks, or tee shirts. Draped garments, dresses, skirts with drape or fullness, elastic-waist pants, cardigans, hoods, and scarves are all excellent choices for jersey.
Wool jersey felts beautifully. Purchase more fabric than needed for your project; wash in hot water and dry in the dryer. Repeat until the fabric is the texture you like. Pair this felted fabric with the same fabric un-felted for a custom-coordinated outfit! Silk jersey marries well with stretch laces, onionskin, and buttermilk knits. Pintucks in jersey fabric are easy to make with a twin needle. Simply tighten your needle tension slightly to make this decorative raised stitching treatment.
When hand-washing your wool jerseys, add a bit of hair conditioner to the rinse (just a drop!). It will soften the fabric and make it more comfortable to wear.