Although it can be tricky for the home sewer to work with, cotton jersey is a favorite for creating soft, stretchy, comfortable clothing. The fabric, named for the Isle of Jersey in the channel islands between France and Great Britain, can stretch up to 25 percent and is widely used in fashion.
How It's Made
Jersey cotton fabric is a knit fabric made using either a flat weft or circular knitting machine. The machines are a series of needles that produce interlocking loops of thread. Because stitches are small, even and consistent, jersey cotton has a flat, smooth face with a back that is more textured.
Cotton jersey fabric is typically light and comfortable. The fabric stretches easily and is usually very soft. Jersey cotton comes in a variety of colors, and is widely available at fabric stores. It can be made from 100 percent cotton, or from a mixture of cotton and synthetic materials. It is a common component in casual wear.
Cotton jersey is widely used for clothing and other fabric items. It is a popular T-shirt fabric, and is sometimes used for soft bedding. Because it is stretchy and can be form-fitting and clingy without being tight, it's a fabric often used to make women's summer dresses. The fabric is also popular for stretchy pants and other comfort wear.
Working with Cotton Jersey
Before sewing cotton jersey, prewash the fabric and dry it in a hot dryer, because cotton tends to shrink and it is better for the shrinkage to occur before you start sewing. Because cotton jersey stretches, it is important to use plenty of pins when pinning a pattern to avoid overstretching the fabric while sewing. When washing store-bought cotton jersey, wash in cold water and use the dryer's low heat setting to avoid unwanted shrinking.
Emily Potter has written professionally since 1998. She has edited local magazines, such as "Family Living in Southeast Idaho," and worked as a reporter for the "Idaho State Journal." Potter has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Montana.