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Sewing with Jersey

Learning to sew with jerseyFor quite some time ‘sewing with jersey’ had been on my little learning-to-sew-list. Although I am usually not wearing a lot of t-shirts or jersey myself, I got really inspired by all the fantastic modern prints and the high quality fabrics when I visited the ‘kingdom of fabrics’ storehouse in December 2019.

I went there twice in only two days. And, oh boy, I bought so much jersey and knits this time! I could not even take all of them back to Doha because of the weight allowance. Had I know about Covid-19 coming up and the travel restrictions, I would most probably shipped it to Qatar to make it ‘sewing-with-jersey lock-down’. But I didn’t! So I had only a few jersey fabrics to start my little sewing-with-jersey project in January 2020.

Making a Sew-with-Jersey Plan

My first jersey t-shirtI have mentioned The Couture Kira Denecke’s book ‘Oberteile nรคhen’ (in English: โ€˜Sewing Topsโ€™) in my blog post on my big sewing plans. The chapter on sewing t-shirts would become my starting point to explore how to handle jersey. In this chapter she introduces four different styles that are all based on the same basic pattern: (1) a basic t-shirt, (2) a shirt with a small stand-up collar, (3) a shirt with a stand-up collar and a stylish zipper, and (4) a t-shirt with a v-neckline.ย 

As I am usually not wearing a lot of t-shirts I decided to use the fabrics that I had found in the kingdom’s end-of-bolt offer section. Practice jerseys… ๐Ÿ™‚

My plan was to start with the basic t-shirt, move on to the v-neckline one and then when these were two options were ‘perfected’ try out the more fancy ones with stand-up collar and zipper.

Sewing T-shirt No. 1

So, I started with this grey checked print to prepare my first pattern. While doing so I was thinking of my grandma. She had explained to me once to pay attention to the print when working with checked patterns. So, this is what I did! I wanted the print to be aligned exactly with the middle of my neckline. ๐Ÿ˜‰

There were only a few steps for sewing this t-shirt. Would it not be for the overlock machine, I would have made this jersey shirt in no time.

The overlook machine really turned out to be a little nightmare. I have this machine for quite some time, but never really used it a lot. Threading the two needles takes me ages and is really frustrating. As this is the only overlock machine I ever used, I am not sure if I am the issue or if the machine is the issue. This is something I will need to find out in future.

Constructive Jersey T-shirt Critique

For a first trial this jersey t-shirt didn’t turn out bad. But there were a few points that needed improvement:

  1. The cuff of the neck: I used the same jersey fabric and not special cuff jersey that you can buy separately. I did so mainly because of the print to not have the neckline standing out too much. I believe it is possible to do this, but my jersey was a bit too heavy for this purpose. It is a bit bulky. 
  2. The lower hem: I only turned the fabric ones and used a twin needle for the seam. While sewing with a twin needle turned out pretty easy the seam does not look very neat nevertheless. The inside part tends to roll out as it is a bit too long.
  3. The length of the sleeves: Somehow I have an issue with the length. The sleeves are either too long or too short. This middle option is not really my thing.

So, I noted down the bellow lessons learnt in my little new sewing diary before I planned the next jersey t-shirt project:

  1. Use specific cuff jersey or knits for cuffs and necklines whenever possible.
  2. Turn the fabric over twice for seams to close them off properly or use the overlook machine for having a neat edge before turning it over only once.
  3. Change the length of the sleeves in the basic pattern.

Improving my Jersey-Sew Skills

To change things up a bit, I decided to give the t-shirt with the v-neckline a try first. The idea of using this special cuff jersey for the neckline kind of freaked me out a bit. Again my choice of fabric can be considered questionable. Another ‘practice jersey’… ๐Ÿ™‚

Seeing myself in this t-shirt on the photos below make me think that I am a fan of specific soccer club of the German Bundesliga. It is so not my style!

But it was just another practice shirt. I would wear it ‘not in public’… not considering the fact that I am just posting photos of myself here! ๐Ÿ™‚

Twin Needle and Other Issues

While I could see some improvements in my jersey-sew skills, new jersey issues came up as well… It would be a long way to go!

  1. The v-neckline: For the v-neckline you use a small strip of the same jersey fabric. If this jersey strip is too long you will end up with a neckline slightly sticking out all around your neck, like me! ๐Ÿ˜‰
  2. Cutting fabric for sleeves from striped prints: Normally you put the sleeve pattern on the left side of the fabric (when two layers of fabric facing each other with their right sides). When you put the pattern on one layer of fabric only, you should always have the right side of the fabric up. This is exactly what I did! For the right and the left sleeve in the same way. But this does not consider the fact that the back and front side of your sleeve is actually not the same. Thus it would have been better to turn the sleeve pattern piece over when cutting one of the sleeves.
  3. Don’t break your needle: The most valuable lesson however is most probably that you should not break your only jersey twin needle. My machine has an option to change between the settings for twin and normal needle. If you forget to change to the twin needle setting, the needle will break!

So Much More to Learn

After t-shirt no. 1 I that sewing with jersey would be easy-peasy to learn in no time, I realized that there were a few more things to pay attention to:

  1. The best option for a neat hem is to turn the fabric over only once, to use the twin needle for hemming it and then to cut off the excess fabric inside. 
  2. The jersey strip for the v-neckline should be not too long and stretched a bit at the back of the neckline to have a nice flat neckline.
  3. It is best to cut the sleeve pattern from two layers of fabric and not on one.
  4. Make sure to change to twin needle setting when using a twin needle.

Imposed Jersey Sewing Break

As I was not able to find a jersey twin needle in Qatar, I had to order one from abroad. So my little sewing with jersey adventure was interrupted for two weeks until the new (and very expensive) needle arrived in a slightly overpacked package… ๐Ÿ™‚

What do you think about my second t-shirt trial? Do you also consider it quite a fail like myself? ๐Ÿ™‚

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