Basic sewing – jersey and knits

Sewing garments in jersey or knit fabrics is so much fun and very rewarding, it’s hard to fail and the finished garment will almost always come out looking awesome! There are a few techniques you need to know, though, so keep reading and in the next blog post I write about jersey, I will teach you how to make a simple t-shirt!
First, you really don’t need lots of expensive and professional machines to enjoy this amazing fabric, a normal sewing machine will do the trick. Of course, if you’re lucky to own a serger/overlock and a top-stitching machine, that’s better and that is of course what the professionals use! But right now, this is on a beginners level.
I will not share too much info about jersey as there is already an excellent and easy-read blog post about jersey on Prudent Baby, that really goes into details about problems you might encounter with jersey- I suggest you read that before we continue.

A few important things to know about sewing jersey on a normal sewing machine:

1. If you stitch with a normal straight seam, the seam will break. Why? Because jersey is a knitted fabric (it is stretchy and it moves) and a normal straight seam is made to be used on woven fabrics. So if you pull your fabric after stitching it with a normal straight sem, the thread breaks in a second.

2. Use a sharp needle, I prefer microtex needles, super sharp!

3. Don’t let the presser foot pressure and tension be to high. Why? Because jersey fabrics tend to move easy without being pulled.

4. So DON’T PULL! Feed the fabric into the presser foot instead. The fabric will move by itself.

5. To hem (when you finish by folding up the bottom or sleeve of your garment) you can use a twin needle. It gives a pretty professional result. If you are a beginner, I suggest to use a normal zig zag when you hem. Worst case scenario, you can always leave your edges un-hemmed. Jersey doesn’t ravel easy.


Let’s have a look at some seams:


Normal straight seam: Well, as we already established- don’t use it!

3-step zig zag: great for decoration, embellishing, hemming or as a normal zig zag. You can use it with a normal thread on top and an elastic thread in the bobbin to create a gathered elastic seam for example.

Stretch straight seam: this is the best and strongest seam to use as a straight seam, i.e. for all the seams you use when you put your pieces together/ when you stitch your garment together.

Normal zig zag: Using normal zig zag for all your beginner’s projects is a good start! When you put your garment together you can use a narrow zig zag (you change the width of stitches to be 2 mm instead of 4 mm). It’s certainly not the best, but it will not easily break when you pull and stretch your garment. And when you fold your edges to hem them, you use the wide/normal width (3-4 mm wide). Easy peasy.

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