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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Jersey, A Fabric I Cannot Get Enough Of

Jersey is one of those fabrics that has enormous influence on our wardrobes and yet most people I come into contact with know very little about what goes into jersey in terms of fibres and how it is knitted.

The cloth's name is derived from Jersey in the Channel Islands where it has been knitted since medieval times, however, it's rise to prominence in Western fashion only came about from the early 20th Century onwards.

NB: What is the difference between a knitted fabric and a woven one?

A knit fabric is made from one continuous thread (much like the one continuous yarn in your hand-knitting) and it stretches all over. Woven fabrics, on the other hand, will only stretch on the bias.

As the world continues to become more and more casual, woven fabrics such as shirting cottons, loomed fabrics such as wool and jacquard fabrics such as silk, become less used in daily life. Jersey, which is also known for it's draping properties, is therefore likely to continue to rise in prominence.

Circular knitted jersey, as is seen in the video below, is often capable of weaving many different blends of fibres and so accordingly you find it has a wide range of uses in fashion. Most commonly we see jersey in t-shirts but the use of jersey is also seen in women's dresses, skirts, tops and casual trousers.

Of all of the applications that jersey is used for my favourite must be t-shirts and polo tops. The nature of jersey is that it has a great deal of stretch and that stretch means that it has great draping properties, giving a very relaxed and free flowing look for a garment. When the suits and shirts are off, there are fewer more relaxing and comfortable fabrics to wear around the house.

Whilst jersey can be woven in a multitude of fibres and was predominantly woven in wool at the beginning of the 20th Century, today fibres used can range from all manner of polymer based fibres, cellulose fibres, wools, silks, cottons and bamboo.

In my own experience, the best jersey fabrics are made of fine cotton and often the term 'Supima' , 'Egyptian' and 'West Indian Sea Island' cotton is used for the finer yarns used, with each referring to the the provenance of the fabric. Supima is a portmanteau of the words 'superior' and 'pima' cotton referring to cotton from the USA, Egyptian cotton is obviously from Egypt and  Sea Island cotton comes from the Carribean. There is also the Filosozia yarn of Italy which is offered to a select group of knitting companies. Each industry body marketing their cotton will make many claims about their product but it is up to the individual to work out what suits their skin.

In the past I have preferred pure blends of jerseys having found that mixtures such as silk and cotton or silk and wool can irritate the skin at times in the case of wool or in the case of silk where the fabric is too shiny and body hugging. And, whilst synthetic fibres can assist in the structure and movement of a jersey, they can also make garments smell after frequent use. Essentially, if you are looking for a great t-shirt, try looking for straight cotton jersey of a higher quality staple.

knitted sleeve cuffs left, and navy pure blend cotton jersey, right
cotton jersey fabric

1 comment:

  1. Hi there. Where can I find retailers of quality and affordable Jersey fabric for some DIY project please? Thank you.