moneta party – tips for sewing with jersey.
I hope you guys are all as excited as we are about the Moneta party!
Today I’ve got some tips about sewing with jersey that will hopefully help you feel confident enough to tackle jersey if you haven’t already.
I think jersey/stretch fabrics have got a real bad rep! They’re not difficult to work with, not even a little bit, and I couldn’t imagine not sewing with them now! With the right tools and techniques I’m sure you’ll feel the same too.
The Moneta was the first jersey dress I ever made. It sparked this love for jersey within me that has not eased off two years on. I sewed jersey before I had an overlocker, so I’m going to try and explain what do so you can get good results on your regular machine. And don’t worry if you have an overlocker, I will cover that too.
So, down to business! Here’s the haberdashery type stuff you’ll need:
we’ve got scissors, a tape measure or seam gauge, jersey/stretch needles, a walking foot, good quality thread and scrap fabric.
SEWING MACHINE TIPS
Firstly, I recommend a good quality polyester thread. Polyester has a bit more stretch than cotton and shouldn’t snap as easily. Pick a good brand, like Gütermann.
Use the right needle; if you don’t pick a jersey or stretch needle, you will “tear” the fabric, rather than pushing through the interlocked knitted structure of your fabric. You will also get skipped stitches. If you’re using a stable jersey, such as ponte de roma, then use a jersey needle. Fabrics such as viscose jersey, or anything super stretchy (maybe lycra) then a stretch needle will be best.
Then you’re going to need to pick a stitch type that will stretch well. You can use a zig zag stitch in 2.5 stitch width and stitch length 1.
My most favourite stitch is a triple stitch, or as I refer to it, the stretch straight stitch. If you’ve got it, it’ll look like this on your machine, or similar hopefully!
The best thing you can do for yourself if you’re serious about sewing jersey is to buy a walking foot. The price is really going to depend on what brand your machine is. A Janome one will cost between £30 – £50 depending on where you buy it. Abi has a Bernina and hers cost £100 so there’s a definite price difference between machine brands.
They work by basically adding another set of feed dogs to your machine. The arm moves up and down with your machine needle, and in turn, that little arm makes the feed dogs on the walking foot move. It takes both layers of your fabric through your machine at an even pace. If you use a non-walking foot, you run the risk of the top layer of your fabric being stretched out as the foot presses on it, rather than it being guided through. It’s an extra step to take if you want those perfect jersey results!
On my machine you can reduce the pressure on your fabric from your presser foot. My machine has a dial on the top. I keep it on 4 for sewing woven, but reduce it to 1 or even 0 when working with jersey. I’ve circled where the dial is so you can see if you have something similar.
Here’s a few examples of how different sewing jersey can be depending on the settings you have used. From top to bottom: standard machine foot, standard foot pressure. Then we’ve got a standard machine foot, but reduced presser foot tension. Finally we have a reduced pressure foot tension, but with a walking foot.
You can see the difference in each stitch type & with the walking foot. We want a nice smooth line of stitching, not the ripples and uneven result from the stitching examples without the walking foot.
When you put your walking foot on your machine, make sure the little hinged arm sits on top of your needle screw. If that arm doesn’t move, the feed dogs that the walking foot has won’t move and therefore it will not serve its purpose.
My favourite setting is using a walking foot, really low presser foot pressure and a triple stitch:
You can see it isn’t stretched out or rippling in any way.
You should always test your machine settings on your jersey before you sew it. It’s a good idea to cut two scrap pieces of your fabric the same shape, so when you put it through your machine you will be able to see if there’s any stretching of either layer.
Now you can pin your pieces together as you would if you were sewing a woven, and wizz it through your machine.
One of the great things about jersey is that you often don’t need to finish your seams.
Ah, the overlocker. I flipping love this machine. Seeing as my favourite fabric to sew with is jersey I thought it would be a good idea to get one. Mine is just a cheap one from Lidl; I know a lot of people have had problems with it, so maybe if you are looking to get one, maybe go with a brand like Janome or Brother. (Or Bernina if you’ve got that budget!)
To sew with jersey you’re going to need to change some things on your machine if you have used it to sew wovens. The big thing is the differential feed. This is the speed that your overlocker takes fabric through vs how fast the stitches happen.
This is what happens when it stretches out, when your differential feed is too high:
You obviously don’t want it to be stretched out at all, so I have my differential feed set at -2.
I turn the tension up a bit on all my wheels when I’m sewing jersey, usually around 3 or 4. Or like here, in the middle of the two!
You need to make sure your thread is sitting in-between your tension disks properly; try feeding it through as if you were flossing your teeth! Getting your tension wrong could result in your thread to peep through your seams, like this:
If you have tested on scrap pieces (again, cut a couple of squares the same shape so it’ll be easy to see where your set up might need tweaking) then you can go ahead and sew your dress up. Just make sure you don’t get any fabric near the blade that you don’t want to cut, nothing will ever be able to repair those holes, sob.
Make sure that when you start sewing, your overlocker blade is at it’s highest point, like so:
This will help stop your jersey getting out of line, and should keep things all neat and lovely, just the way we like them, like this…
It’s also really important that you don’t get pins anywhere near your overlocker blade. You might be able to get away with sewing over pins on your sewing machine, but your overlocker will teach you the hard way that you can’t even contemplate that. your overlocker blade will chomp that right up, ruining just about everything.
My final tip is to make sure your overlocker is giving you the right seam allowance, by using a seam gauge or tape measure. You should mark the fabric where you expect the seam to be (i.e. 3/8th inch) and then after you’ve put your fabric through your machine you will be able to see if it’s on target.
So there you go, those are my main jersey sewing tips! If you’ve got any specific questions then leave a comment, or you can email me at email@example.com.
In the next couple of weeks Abigail and Elle will have more tips to help you make your moneta, including lining your bodice, different options for finishing your neckline and gathering fabric with clear elastic.
Here’s the Moneta I made using the fabric in the examples above…
The fabric used for this tutorial was kindly provided by Minerva Crafts and can be found for sale here.
Photographs were taken in the lovely studio space at Guthrie & Ghani, a beautiful haberdashery in Moseley, Birmingham.0