What Is Jersey Fabric?

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From its humble beginnings as a fisherman’s pullover on the island of Jersey to featuring in the designer collections of Coco Chanel, jersey has had a surprising journey to becoming a wardrobe staple fabric. The popularity of jersey fabric has endured thanks to its softness, comfort and stretch which has, in turn, created iconic clothing pieces like the t-shirt.

What Is Jersey Fabric?

Jersey is a soft, stretchy knit fabric made from cotton or synthetic yarns and is a light to medium–weight fabric. Jersey was originally made from wool which is how it developed as a knitted fabric, being used to make fisherman’s pullovers on the island of Jersey during the Middle Ages. Using thicker yarns, jersey fabric helped to protect fishermen from the elements as they worked and was long considered a heavy–duty, menswear fabric. Jersey steadily migrated across Western Europe and, when the textile industry boomed in England during the 1800s, jersey began to be exported across Europe and to the United States in greater and greater quantities. By the turn of the century, jersey had become a popular fabric for mens sports uniforms, underwear and workwear, however Coco Chanel was about to change everything just a few years later. 

In 1916 Coco Chanel shocked the fashion world by introducing jersey to her womenswear range, with a collection of comfortable jersey dresses and coats. Coco Chanel changed the perception of jersey as a purely heavy–duty, menswear fabric and, seeing its huge popularity amongst female customers, other designers began introducing jersey to their own womenswear collections. It can be argued that thanks to Coco Chanel, we now have the t-shirt – probably one of the most ubiquitous pieces of clothing in the world. Looking back at how she revolutionised jersey fabric, Vogue named Chanel as the ‘Original Jersey Girl’.

jersey fabric

How Is Jersey Fabric Made?

Jersey is defined as a knitted fabric rather than woven fabric, which gives it stretch and more give. These qualities make it perfect for baby’s and children’s clothing, allowing for plenty of wiggle–room, as well as comfortable garments like jersey dresses, t-shirts, underwear and sports clothing. Woven fabrics are more structured by comparison being made with a tight weave of warp & weft yarns, which holds a garment’s shape.

What Is Jersey Made From?

Jersey was originally made from wool, creating its knitted construction. Today jersey fabric is made from cotton or cotton blended fabric, where cotton is mixed with a synthetic yarn like polyester to make a more durable fabric. Cotton or cotton blended jersey is breathable, soft, durable and easy to care for, making it ideal for all kinds of clothing.

jersey fabric

What Different Types of Jersey Fabric Are There?

Jersey fabric is available in a number of different variations so you can choose the right type of jersey fabric for your project. 

Standard Jersey or Single Jersey Fabric

Single jersey fabric is made with one set of needles to create a light–weight jersey fabric ideal for both summer and winter clothing, Single jersey fabric is suitable for t-shirts, baby clothing, leisurewear and casualwear.

Double–knit or Interlock Jersey Fabric

Double–knit jersey fabric combines two pieces of single knit jersey, attached on their piled sides, to give a smooth surface on both sides. 

What To Make With Jersey Fabric?

Although jersey became a prominent feature in Chanel’s designer collections, today the fabric is associated with casual clothing, bedding and leisurewear. Jersey is a versatile fabric with many qualities that are ideal for a wide variety of projects. The softness, stretch and breathable properties of jersey fabric make it perfect for t–shirts, vest tops, leisurewear and underwear. Jersey fabric is an ideal choice for baby and children’s clothing and bedding, being gentle and comfortable against a baby’s skin and with lots of stretch for extra wiggle–room. Find the perfect jersey fabric for your next project by browsing our full range of jersey fabrics here

jersey fabric

How To Sew With Jersey Fabric?

Jersey fabric may feel tricky to sew if you’re new to working with knitted fabrics, however as a soft and versatile material, it is suitable for many different projects. Working with jersey fabric, you’ll need a specialist jersey ballpoint sewing needle such as our Milward Assorted Ballpoint Jersey needle. A ballpoint jersey needle will avoid tearing the fabric and slip between the fibres. Consider using a walking foot on your sewing machine to avoid stretching the jersey fabric as you sew and to help the fabric move smoothly and evenly through your machine.

How To Care For Jersey Fabric?

Jersey fabric is relatively easy to care for but do ensure to check the manufacturer’s instructions before washing. Cotton jersey can shrink so it is advisable to pre-wash your jersey fabric prior to cutting and sewing to prevent any shrinkage afterwards.

Planning Your Next Jersey Project?

Browse our collection of beautiful jersey fabrics to find the ideal jersey for your project. We have a lovely selection of jersey prints perfect for everything from bedding and pyjamas to baby clothing or a statement jersey dress!

If you're looking to add a new fashion piece to your wardrobe, why not use one of our award–winning Tilly & The Buttons Sewing Patterns and match your favourite jersey to your chosen fashion item. 

Do you enjoy working with jersey? Why not share some of your tips below with our customers! We'd love to hear from you.

1 comment

  • Jean Stocks

    That was a very interesting article. I didn’t realise Jersey fabric originated in Jersey for the purpose stated. I was always under the impression that fishermen wore tightly knitted garments called ganseys or guernseys, originating in the island of Guernsey.

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