Jersey fabrics are made using circular knit technology, so that knitted fabrics can be created by combining all types of yarn, from natural and artificial fibres to the synthetic fibres often blended with Spandex.
In the late 19th century Jersey was a knitted fabric mainly used for making work garments used by fishermen of Jersey, one of the Channel Islands. It was a light, soft plain knit with good stretch qualities, and was adapted for a wide variety of uses in the clothing industry.
Long considered to be a humble material unsuitable for the sartorial world, it status was suddenly enhanced in spring 1924 thanks to a crucial figure in fashion history - Coco Chanel. The designer used it for her creations, introducing it to the textile market, and especially the garment industry.
Jersey knit fabrics are light, soft and have excellent horizontal and vertical stretch properties. This is made possible by using stretch yarn containing LYCRA® fibre. Garments made with Jersey fabrics are used for a variety of purposes, from swimwear to sportswear, intimate wear and fashion clothing, hugging the contours of the body as comfortwear.
One of the most widely used Jersey knit fabrics in the fashion world is the "Milan Stitch", a type of Jersey whose stability and weight resemble those of a loom-woven fabric while retaining the stretch characteristics of a knit. This fabric is made with a double face, so the two sides are identical - its final look is that of a compact plain knit on both sides.
For sportswear and intimate wear, though, single Jersey is the most commonly-used stretch fabric, made with LYCRA fibre to provide a markedly superior stretch performance and high compression levels.