Jersey and Knit Fabrics - All you need to know

We're passionate about fabric at Sew Me Sunshine. Here's our guide to everything Jersey and Knit related, including information about cotton jersey, interlock knits, ponte di roma, cable knits, french terry, sweatshirting, jersey with TENCEL™ fibres, jersey with LENZING™ ECOVERO™ fibres

Knit Fabrics are made up of one single yarn that is looped continuously. This gives knit fabric it's common stretchiness characteristic. Knit fabrics either have a 2 way stretch meaning it only stretches on the crossgrain (selvedge to selvedge) or a 4 way stretch meaning it stretches on the grain and across the grain.
Tip: Check out our YouTube video on how to work out stretch percentage
Jersey is the most common type of knit fabric, and they vary in weight and drape. They can be made out of viscose, polyester or cotton.

Cotton Jersey tends to be crisp and medium in weight. It is often blended with elastane making it perfect for sewing basic jersey tops. Sometimes you will find 100% cotton jersey fabric, these tend to stretch out so are more suited to loose fitted tops.


Polyester/Nylon Jersey is perfect for close fitted garments. It is often used for sportswear and swimwear.  Nylon jersey may be made using  ECONYL® (recycled nylon). This type of fabric boasts the same features as virgin nylon fabrics in terms of performance, but has the added bonus of being manufactured in a sustainable way.


Viscose Jersey tends to be lightweight and has a good drape. It is well suited for sewing jersey wrap dresses or close fitted tops. They are sometimes made using bamboo viscose.

Jerseys made from viscose may contain LENZING™ ECOVERO™ fibres. This is a sustainably certified viscose fibre. These fibres are derived from certified renewable wood sources using an eco-responsible production, you can read more by clicking the link above.


Jerseys may contain TENCEL™ fibres. This is actually a brand name of lyocell (type of viscose). For a fabric to be called "tencel" it must contain at least 30% branded TENCEL™ lyocell fibres produced by the Austrian company Lenzing AG.  TENCEL™ fibres are derived from sustainable wood sources, harvested from certified (FSC) and controlled sources. TENCEL™ fibre production is known to be environmentally responsible due to Lenzing's innovative closed loop production process.


Double knit fabric is essentially two layers of fabric knitted together with two sets of needles. They are medium-heavy weight and are more structured. Interlock knit fabric is a type of double knit fabric that has a smooth surface on each side. Ponte di roma is a type of interlock jersey, it is thick and has a slight horizontal ribbed appearance to it. These fabrics are perfect for sewing trouser or jumpsuit patterns that require a knit fabric, structured jersey tops or even structured cardigans.
Tip: As it is a stable knit it is a great option if you are new to sewing with jersey fabrics.


French Terry has a soft looped back and is lighter than traditional sweat shirting fabric. It is perfect for sewing yourself a light-medium weight jumper, cardigan or even sweatpants.


Sweat-shirting fabric is often medium-heavy weight, it is also likely to have a fleece-back. It is ideal for sewing yourself a jumper, hoodie, or a pair of cosy joggers.

Scuba is a type of double knit fabric that is often made from polyester. It has a smooth texture and a lovely drape due to it being weighty. It is perfect for sewing a dress with a circle skirt, full circle skirt and trousers.

Jacquard jersey fabric is a textured fabric that has patterns that have been woven into it rather than printed. These knit fabrics vary in fabric content, weight and stretch percentage.


Ribbed Knit has a distinctive ridged pattern that runs vertically along the fabric. They are ideal for making yourself a cardigan.

True Knit Jersey fabric looks like traditional knitting, and it has prominent stitches. These are perfect for sewing yourself a cardigan or loose fitted jumper.

Yarn Dyed Jersey fabric is when the yarn has been dyed before weaving. For example, if it is a yarn dyed stripe jersey the stripe design hasn't been printed onto the knit fabric it has been woven in due to the yarn threads being dyed to the specific colour required to form the pattern. 

Tips For Sewing with Jersey Fabric: 

  • Look at the fabric requirements on the dressmaking pattern you wish to make. Make sure you check whether you need a structured or drapey knit fabric, what sort of weight it needs to be and how much stretch is required 
  • Pre wash your knit fabric as they can shrink during the first wash 
  • Make sure your fabric is lying flat when you are cutting it out
  • Take your time cutting out your knit fabric, some people find it easier to use a rotary cutter rather than scissors. Use pattern weights as pins may snag your fabric 
  • Knit fabrics need to be sewn with either a ballpoint or stretch sewing machine needle. A ballpoint needle pushes the fibres away whilst sewing rather than piercing them. The size of the needle depends on the weight of the fabric you are going to be sewing with. You can also choose to finish your waist and neckbands using a jersey twin needle for a professional finish 
  • You can sew knit fabrics using an overlocker, but you can also sew them with a regular sewing machine. Some regular sewing machines will have an overlock stitch which mimics an overlock stitch produced by an overlocker. On a basic sewing machine all you need is a simple zig zag stitch - make sure you change the settings on your machine so that it is narrow and short

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If you have any questions or want to learn more, you can contact Team Sunshine at teamsunshine@sewmesunshine.co.uk

We stock a wide range of Jersey & Knit fabrics, click here to view the full collection.

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