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DIY Reversible Jersey - Sewing - Please Help!!! Answered

Hello Everybody!
I'm thinking about making a mesh jersey to run in, but I don't know what kind of fabric to get/look for/use. I'm looking for something light, durable, comfortable, and very breathable. I'm looking for something very easy to sew (I'm a dude who's never sewn anything serious before). Also, some flexibility is desirable, though not super necessary.
Thank you!!!!
 - basementhacker


If you're sewing a knit for the first time, use a zigzag stitch. You'll get less puckering than you would with a straight stitch.

Synthetics have some neat technology that allows moisture wicking etc, but those little channels are often perfect breeding grounds for bacteria.

Semi synthetics (made from cellulose fiber like rayon, viscose, etc) can be decent for moisture wicking. They tend to have a lot of drape. Lots of it is made from wood pulp, some from bamboo (this is the bamboo fabric you might see advertised). Rayon/viscose from bamboo is also supposed to have antimicrobial properties.

Cotton is kinda crap for exercising in hot weather. It gets sodden easily, dries slowly, and is the most pesticide intensive fabric - so, not so earth friendly, either.

Linen is lovely and takes fewer resources to produce. It wicks moisture much better than cotton, and dries well. Sometimes it can seem stiff at first; it gets softer with repeated washings. I've seen linen (and linen blend) knits in case you want to avoid woven fabric for this. I get most of my linen from DI (our local thrift store) - it's cheaper, and it usually saves something from the landfill.

Merino wool is amazing stuff. Don't shrug off wool for hot weather clothing; there are now $60+ t-shirts made of 100% merino wool that get amazing reviews. (I've been doing research on different fibers over the past year, largely wool, or a recycling project I'm working on) Wool can absorb 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling damp. Cotton, in comparison, feels wet after only 15%. It resists odors, is naturally antimicrobial, flame and stain resistant, and can last much longer than cotton if you take care of it. I don't see a reason to bother with the "washable" wool, which has been mechanically or chemically abused to strip the scales from the wool fibers. That makes wool loose some of its positive character. You can machine wash merino wool if you put it on the gentle cycle with cool water. Protein based fibers do better with a slightly acidic rinse (just like your hair - hence the pH of commercial shampoos/conditioners and the popularity of vinegar/beer/lemon juice rinses), so a bit of vinegar in the rinse cycle won't hurt. A fine knit like merino jersey will dry quickly if you hang it or lay it flat. If you're buying merino jersey to sew a shirt, spray it with laundry starch and iron it flat before sewing. This will save you a lot of headache with the rolling (some knits tend to roll up when you're working with them).

Silk can feel uncomfortably clingy when you're sweaty. The fibers are strong, though, so it's great for combining with other fibers like merino that might benefit from a bit more durability. Silk is also good for moisture wicking and drying quickly. It adds a nice luster to fabrics.

In an ideal world where cost wasn't an option and special fabrics could spontaneously burst into existence whenever someone wanted them, I'd suggest an open knit made mostly of merino wool (say 60-80% ish), with a bit of silk for durability and linen for extra moisture wicking.

In general cotton and other natural fabrics are more comfortable to wear when exercising because they absorb sweat, but there are some man-made fabrics that are designed to wick away moisture from the skin and have the advantage of being lighter in weight and easier to wash and dry than cotton. It's less about the fibre type (ie polyester or whatever) and more about the fabric construction. I would normally avoid polyester like the plague, but I have a couple of Sweaty Betty gym tops that are polyester and are very comfortable in use. The trouble is, unless you try a fabric you won't know, although if you can find a man-made mesh fabric that is sold as being for sportswear it ought to be all right. Personally, I make a lot of my own clothes but I'd hesitate to spend time, effort and money making sportswear from anything other than cotton, because I'd be worried it would turn out hot and sweaty. Also, like someone has already said, jersey fabrics (ie knitted construction), mesh fabrics and fabrics containing Lycra/Spandex are tricky to sew, many experienced dressmakers avoid them. I'd buy a ready-made top. If you are determined to make your own, take an experienced sewer with you to the fabric shop for advice, or seek help from the sales staff.

I was looking at some of the jerseys we wore for basketball in gym and they're made of 100% polyester mesh. Okay or not?

If you have any fabric stores around you, I would suggest actually going there to walk up and down the aisle to touch the fabric to see what would be comfortable. If you are used to running in a regular T-shirt, maybe cotton/natural blends might be right. Synthetics have a different feel and perform differently when you sweat. Sometimes they retain heat too. Adjust for whatever climate you are running in. Maybe you should attempt to modify an existing shirt first with ventilated mesh panel sides or back. Sports fabrics are a little tougher to find since stores don't usually have a high demand for DIY sportsgear. Stretch and knit fabrics are also a little tougher to manage in a sewing machine but you'll get the hang of it. Good luck.

Thank you! I usually run in 100% cotton stuff. Recently I've been running in synthetics, and I don't like how they work in rain - stick to you and chafe. I think cotton is softer on the skin. Maybe I'll try something lighter as you suggested.
Thanks for the comment!

One time I did a 5K in Florida heat. I think I changed into the new shirt that was given out for the race. It was a nice cotton/poly something. At the end of the race I felt a burning sensation. Yup, nipple burn. There's a lesson in there somewhere.

I dunno, I guess just go with whatever feels best. Make sure there are no seams in places that cause irritation and have the shirt clean and soft with a good or loose fit.