This article covers:
WHAT IS COTTON JERSEY KNIT FABRIC?
This material is one that is referred to by many different names: cotton jersey, cotton knit, cotton jersey knit, t-shirt material, stretch knit, cotton lycra, cotton spandex or simply knit fabric.
The ‘jersey’ part of the name comes from the Isle of Jersey, where material of this type was first known to be produced.
Whatever you choose to call it, the name will refer to at least one of the material’s properties. FIBRE content (cotton) and/or CONSTRUCTION method (knit).
The image on the left is a woven fabric. As you can see, it has many threads that go up and down and across at perpendicular angles. There is no stretch inherent in the final material. The image on the right is a knit fabric. A single thread is used, looping over itself, and the resulting material has natural elasticity due to the construction method.
COMPOSITION OF COTTON JERSEY
The natural elasticity of the knit is enhanced by the addition of the synthetic polymer – elastane, which is spun with the cotton and then knitted together. (Lycra and Spandex are trademarked brand names for elastane.) The amount of stretch that a garment has is directly related to the amount of elastane spun into the material.
Cotton Jersey Knits with 4-6% elastane content
This type of material has the type of stretch that you’re used to from your t-shirts. This means that the material can comfortably stretch to fit over your head and return to its designed shape. The fabric is not designed to be under constant strain, which over a long period of time will deform and loose its ability to recover the original shape.
Cotton Jersey Knits with 10% elastane content
This type of material is similarly used in t-shirts, but the greater amount of elastane means that this fabric can also be used for garments such as leggings, activewear, form fitting dresses, body suits and self-bound underwear. The greater the percentage of spandex or lycra in your garment, the greater the ability for it to ‘recover’ after being under stress. Typically garments utilising ‘negative ease’ require elastane percentages of 10% or higher.
Patterns for garments made with knits are specifically written to account for the amount of stretch incorporated into the fabric. As such it is important to refer to the sewing pattern instructions to see if you have a fabric with the appropriate amount of stretch for your chosen garment.
HOW COTTON JERSEY LOOKS, FEELS AND BEHAVES
At MaaiDesign we have an extensive range of high quality ‘basic’ cotton jerseys, as well as printed designs.
Cotton jersey typically has a medium amount of drape and a good quality jersey will feel soft, even if they are printed.
Due to its stretch and soft feel it is a very pleasant fabric to wear and is ideal for garments where comfort is key.
WHICH GARMENTS ARE BEST SUITED TO COTTON JERSEY
The versatility of cotton jersey means that you can sew a wide variety of clothes that will move comfortably, for every body type.
HOW TO CARE FOR COTTON JERSEY KNIT FABRIC
Initial care instructions
Pre-washing your fabric is the first step to caring for your material. Pre-washing ensures that any shrinkage (approximately 2-5%) will occur prior to cutting out and assembling your garment.
Ongoing care for your material
We recommend that your cotton jersey knit garments be washed using warm water (approx. 30°C) and line dried. Do not tumble dry your finished garments, because the heat of the dryer deteriorates the elastane and dramatically reduces the usable life of the clothes. Additionally, turning your garments inside out will protect the colours from fading in the sunlight.
MaaiDesign aims to be one of the top suppliers of quality cotton jersey fabric online in Australia and to be the fabric store of choice for modern makers with a passion for sewing.
We pride ourselves on supporting indie sewing pattern businesses and stocking only high quality materials so that your projects look great, feel great and last a lifetime.