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 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?”