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Knit Knowledge–Interlock Knits and Jerseys

INTERLOCKS

I’m starting out with interlocks, specifically cotton or cotton/polyester blend interlocks, because I always recommend that beginners start with interlock. Honestly, given a choice, I will almost always choose cotton interlock when sewing knit clothing for my family. It has such great qualities. Interlock has a nice weight to it–not too heavy, not too light–which makes it easy to sew and comfortable to wear. It has a good amount of stretch and good recovery. (Recovery is a knit fabric’s ability to bounce back to the size it started. Some knits stretch out and stay stretched until they’re washed and dried.)

Interlocks have the traditional “v” knit shape in the weave on both the front and the back of the fabric. In solid colors, it’s really impossible to tell a difference between the sides of the fabric.

I use cotton and cotton/polyester interlock for the main body sections of tops and pants and for neckbands, armbands and legbands. If you use it for a waistband, though, you will need to hide elastic inside. (Cotton/lycra or cotton/spandex blends are better for elastic-free waistbands. We’ll get to those later.)

JERSEYS

Jerseys are lighterweight than interlocks. If you grab a t-shirt from your closet, you’ll most likely find that it was sewn with cotton jersey. Jerseys are easy to recognize. They have that “v” knit pattern in the weave on the front and the “-” purl pattern in the weave on the wrong side of the fabric. Jerseys also roll on the cut edges.

It’s the rolling that often makes jerseys difficult to work with. I have a couple of suggestions for dealing with the rolling. Experience has shown me that the best way to deal with it is to cut and sew right away. The longer you leave a jersey to sit after you’ve cut out your pattern, the more rolling you’re going to have to deal with. When you first cut, the fabric will lie fairly flat. Another thing you might try is spraying the edges with a little spray starch, then ironing to help them hold their shape while you sew.

100% cotton jerseys have a minimal amount of stretch and are great for the bodies of tees. They work well in pajama pants and baby clothing, too. You’ll also find jerseys made from a list of other natural and synthetic fabrics along with blends of natural and synthetic fibers. I prefer cotton/lycra and cotton/spandex jerseys in the tops that I sew for myself because of the nice drape and the extra stretch that the spandex or lycra adds. Those same cotton/lycra and cotton/spandex jerseys also work well in yoga-style waistbands on skirts or loungepants because of their superb recovery.

Keep the questions coming! Remember that you’ll get an entry into Friday’s drawing for a $20 gift certificate from The Fabric Fairy for every question or comment you post this week (one comment or question per person per blog post, please). Today’s question for you, in case you don’t have a question for me, is “If you’re already comfortable with sewing knits, what type of clothing do you sew most often? If you’re not, what items of clothing do you think you’d choose to sew if you were?”

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42 Responses to Knit Knowledge–Interlock Knits and Jerseys

  • Rachel says:

    I think if I do begin sewing with knits it will likely be sweatshirts or dresses. Right now I have a pile of t-shirts in my recycle pile so I may turn those into comfy pants for my kids too.

  • Michelle Smith says:

    When I sew with knits, I mostly make fitted diapers for my littlest one and tshirts and underwear/trainers for my boys. I prefer interlock over jersey, but use more jersey since I can find that much easier in stores.

  • Barbara says:

    What do I sew the most? Well it is a tie between t-shirts and knit playdresses. But I also have a question- How can I get the perfect rolled hem? I just can’t seem to get it right. THX

  • Morgan says:

    Yikes I have so much to learn! Never knew there was a difference between interlock and jersey…or I suppose just never thought about it. All I’ve really sewn with knits is bibs w/sleeves out of old T-shirts. So I guess that would be jersey. :)

  • Jill says:

    I mostly sew dresses for my daughter, occasionally t-shirts.

    And another question for you! I’ve seen people talking about reinforcing shoulder seams with Lastin. I’ve never done it and I’ve never had a problem with seams breaking or stretching out. Am I just lucky, or is it just that my clothes haven’t been worn long enough since they’re usually outgrown within a season. When do you need to reinforce a seam and why?

  • Dawn H says:

    I mostly sew clothing for my children out of knits. I do find interlock to be the most user friendly, and ribbing to be harder to find locally. I love, love, love working with knits though. :)

  • Hannah says:

    I am so glad you are doing this! My favorite thing about wearing knit fabrics is that they are easier to fit. Knit clothes are the ones I go to for comfort.

  • Jada says:

    Hmmm…I guess I mostly sew pajama bottoms lately, as well as dresses for my youngest daughter.

    I have a question, too…I have been having trouble with thinner knits (I think jersey, but some are interlock) getting chewed up in my sewing machine. I’m using the correct needle and everything, but the fabric just gets pushed down and chewed up. Do you have any suggestions? I never have this problem with other, heavier interlock knits…

    • Denise says:

      I read that the lighter the fabric the smaller the needle. If a needle is too large for any lightweight material it usuallly pushes the material into the machine.

  • Kimberly says:

    I’m comfortable sewing basics with knits so lots of t-shirts here. I’d love to be comfortable enough to make myself a dress though.

  • Alison says:

    What do I sew most? I love to make kids undies. I use interlock or jersey in fun prints for the body and solid coloured cotton lycra or bamboo lycra for the waistband and legs.

  • Leigh says:

    I’m relatively comfortable sewing with knits these days after using several of your patterns (love the tips along the way in them – esp spray starch!). I mostly sew shirts and undies for the kids with them, but I’m also working on some tops and leggings for me! I MUCH prefer interlock to jersey for the kids clothing though, and when making neckbands etc, I pretty much always use a cotton/lycra rib knit.

    I have a couple of spin off questions from previous comments:
    Can you show me how to do a fabulous lettuce edge hem? (spin off the rolled hem question)
    and
    HOW do you serge the lastin in to shoulder seams to reinforce them properly? I tried once and I had to use tape to get it to stay in place as I was serging (my sewing machine also hates lastin), and i ended up not being able to get all the tape out from the stitches…it’s rather scratchy. So how do you do it without your machine fighting back?!

  • Erin says:

    I’m pretty new to sewing in general and I have never sew with knits. When you posted about the stitch magazine I ran out and bought it because I really wanted to start making pj’s for my kids. My question is when buying knits how do you know what is an interlock knit? I noticed you said they have a “v” on the front and back but I don’t really know what that means. Is there a special word when shopping at a store to look for? I don’t think I have ever seen a separate interlock knit section.

  • Stacey says:

    I love sewing euro hoodies for my daughters. They sew up so easily in soft cozy interlock knits. I really need a server though to make it even quicker.

  • Valarie says:

    I”m pretty comfortable with sewing knits. I don’t know if I’ve sewed jersey before. Thanks for the rolling tip. Is it ok to sew garments with rib knits containing 5% spandex or should it just be used for neck lines and cuffs? I mostly sew undies and shirts for the boys.

  • Lisa says:

    I’m getting more comfortable sewing with knits but I definately prefer interlock. It’s a lot easier to sew than jersey. I am also getting used to my spray starch. I’m starting to fall in love with it. :)

    I’ve been sewing a lot of clothes of all kinds, basically all from your patterns. :)

  • Bekah says:

    Questions for you:
    #1- What was the first thing you ever made with knit fabric? (mine was a fitted diaper)
    #2- What is your current favorite knit (print) on the market?

  • Samantha says:

    I’ve only sewn sun dresses for my girls. I would love to make them t-shirts/leggings/shorts especially for the summer. Thanks for the tip in sewing with jersey!

  • keri says:

    This is so informative, thank you!

    I’ve been wanting to figure out the constrasting colors on the arm holes but hadn’t found a good source. I’d like to get more comfortable sewing knits.

  • LauraB says:

    I haven’t done too much with knits, mostly just repurposing some huge tees into skirts for myself, or my old tees into doll clothes or fitted diapers. I did make a jersey maternity top and dress a few weeks ago and was so happy with my success that I really want to do a few more this pregnancy. Also hope to sew some tiny things for the new baby.

  • Michelle says:

    hmmm that is an easy question…clothes for my boys~ with your patterns. :) Truly it is such a blessing to be able to make things that actually fit them! Hugs!

  • Ann says:

    I also prefer to use interlocks over jerseys. One thing that I have found helpful with sewing jersey is to do a lot of pinning.

  • Cristy says:

    I make a lot of cloth diapers… I would like to make a pair of yoga waistband skirts for me though! I think they would be amazingly comfortable!

  • Carey Dieleman says:

    I LOVE sewing with knit! I make my girls dresses & jammies all the time. I also love to make underware for the kids & jammies for my little man.

    I started sewing diapers & have now moved into the world of sewing clothes. I also really enjoy sewing tops for myself too.

  • Tiffany says:

    I love all these tips! I love sewing shirts mostly. For my kids, for my family and myself. I just love that you can take a simple shirt pattern and run with it and pretty much do anything you want to it. It’s so versatile. Although making different kinds of undies comes in a close second. :)

  • Trisha says:

    Is there any way to tell between a good knit and a bad one when buying online? I find that some just feel so cheap and I know there is no way they will hold up over time. They even look almost threadbare. This is why I like to buy my knits in person, but it’s not always easy to do!

    • saju says:

      it is not possible to findout good or bad in internet,knit are different types and with different quality, the most basic knit is known as single jersy which is also with many quality,180 gsm super combed single jersy.

  • Renee says:

    I just now had time to look over the Celebrate the Boy and happened over the Knit Week to see if there was anything I didn’t know. I have not sucessfully purchased knit in the store. I got some interlock for PJ top once and it came out all funny. I mainly stick to lycra swim suits, recycling Tees, and thrifted fabric I seem to find the kind of knit I want. I now know it’s call jersey too but unlike the jersey I wear from RTW it’s cotton. The swim suit was my first sewing project as an adult. I’m so thankful a friend told me about ball point needles and stretch stitch right off the bat or I’d have been turned off to sewing.

    NOTE to those who want to do swimwear for their kids. Make sure you have swim elastic and not regular. It holds up to clorine better. The rest is the same as knits because it’s a stretch fabric.

  • Anne says:

    Hi

    I’m making some cloth doll for my baby and the pattern calls for Cotton Knit fabric. Should I use cotton jersey or cotton interlock knit?

    Thanks
    Anne

  • janet says:

    Where do you find your interlock? I’m a begginner and was thinking it might be easier than jersey. I have an 8 year old that I want to make some tops for as she is not stick thin like most clothes are in the store. I would like cute prints but I can’t seem to find any for her age, theyre all too old or too young.
    Thanks

  • Latoya says:

    Greetings,

    My name is Latoya and I am in need of 95% Rayon, 5% spandex apparel fabric at 160gsm that stretches 4 ways. Typically what type of knit accomplishes this: tricot, 4 way jersey stretch , weft, warp interlock knit etc?

    Thank you,

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