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What Is Jersey Cotton? What to Look For in Jersey Shirts, Pants, & Loungewear

woman in jersey cotton outfit
Written By
PARACHUTE TEAM
Photographs By
JESSICA SCHRAMM FOR PARACHUTE
@parachutehome
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Most people are familiar with the word jersey, whether a sports uniform or a pullover knit sweater comes to mind. But it's also often used to describe one of the comfiest types of cotton fabric.

So, what is jersey cotton, exactly, and how does it compare to other textiles? Keep reading for answers to these questions, along with a jersey fabric definition, how jersey material is made, the benefits of the fabric and the best jersey-knit products to buy.

What Is Jersey Cotton?

Jersey cotton is a type of knitted fabric known for its soft, comfy feel and laid-back aesthetic. The textile is also notably stretchy. While traditional cotton doesn't have this flexibility, the knitting technique gives it an elastic quality, even without blending synthetic fibers like elastane or spandex. 

The intricate knitting process and cozy, breathable feel of jersey material has earned it a reputation as a premium cotton.

Single vs. Double Jersey Knit

Single-knit jersey is loomed with a single set of needles, which makes for one smooth side and a more distinct looping texture on the back (typically the inside of the garment). Then there's double-knit jersey, which is created using two sets of needles so that the fabric is smooth on both sides. Double-knit is generally a bit thicker than its single-knit counterpart.

Why Is It Called Jersey Cotton?

The first jersey material was produced on Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands in the British Isles. The textile is thought to date back to the Middle Ages when the knitting method was used to fabricate fishermen's sweaters out of wool. However, the fabric was popularized worldwide during the 20th century, when it was most often used to make clothing basics, like cotton underwear, undershirts and plain white tees.

Pros and Cons of Jersey Cotton

What do people love about jersey material, and what are the potential drawbacks of the textile? Read on to find out.

Advantages of Jersey Cotton

Jersey cotton is a soft, stretchy, naturally absorbent, breathable, wrinkle-resistant, and low-maintenance material for ultra-cozy clothing and bedding. Here's what to know.

Soft and Stretchy

Bedding, t-shirts, pajamas and loungewear made of jersey material are incredibly soft and stretchy. Cotton is inherently soft, but it's not generally known for being stretchy. As mentioned above, the knitting method gives premium jersey fabric elasticity without the need to blend it with synthetic elastane.

Naturally Absorbent and Breathable

When jersey material is made of 100% cotton, it's naturally breathable and absorbent. The fabric’s moisture-wicking abilities let it draw sweat away from your skin, which is great for folks who perspire while they sleep.

Wrinkle-Resistant

The stretchier a material is, the less prone it is to wrinkling — that's why your favorite yoga pants never need ironing. Thanks to the knitting structure of jersey cotton, the material is exceptionally supple, flexible, and unlikely to show creases. Its wrinkle resistance also helps garments keep their shape.

Low-Maintenance

Lots of people also appreciate how low-maintenance jersey-knit products are. Generally speaking, the fabric is machine washable and dryer friendly. What's more, cotton has a natural ability to release odors, so you can count on funky smells to come out in the wash.

For laundering tips, see our guide on How to Wash and Properly Care for Bedding.

Potential Drawbacks of Jersey Material

There aren't really any downsides to jersey cotton. Having said that, jersey-knit fabrics aren't always made of 100% cotton. Synthetic blends are typically not as breathable or moisture-wicking, so they're not ideal for people who run hot at night or sweat a lot. Try your best to avoid synthetic blended cotton and opt to 100% cotton like the Organic Cotton Tee and Pants for a more comfortable, breathable jersey clothing choice. 

The Best Jersey Cotton Clothing

The naturally breathable yet stretchy qualities of jersey-knit cotton — not to mention its unique ability to hold shape — make it a go-to for casual garments and cozy clothes. We're talking t-shirts, lounge pants and robes. Get the details below.

Jersey Cotton T-Shirt

The Organic Cotton Tee is so much more than your everyday t-shirt. This exceptionally soft jersey shirt is woven out of yarns spun from 100% certified-organic cotton fibers. Available in three neutral hues, it's comfy and breathable enough to wear to bed but also pairs well with jeans and sneakers.

For additional insight, check out our article, What Is Organic Cotton? Sustainable Cotton Fabric Guide.

Jersey Cotton Lounge Pants

If you love the knitted feel of this material and want to rock head-to-toe jersey wear, the Organic Cotton Pants have your name on them. They're loomed from 100% organic cotton yarns and designed with a slightly loose fit to offer a full range of motion during the day and breathability while you sleep.

Learn more about jersey clothing in our article, Organic Clothing Guide: What Natural Clothes to Buy for You and Your Kids.

Jersey Robe

The Organic Cotton Robe you’ll find at Parachute is made with 100% certified-organic yarns, which are looped together to create the stretchy, supple feel we all crave. This unisex jersey-knit bathrobe is then piece-dyed and pre-washed to ensure softness the first time you slip it on.

For a deeper dive, see our blog, Best Organic Robes: What to Look for in an Organic Bathrobe.

How Does Jersey Cotton Compare to Other Fabrics?

The main difference between jersey material and other textiles is that the former is made with yarns, and the latter is made with threads. To make jersey fabric, cotton yarns are looped continuously to create interconnecting rows and columns. This is what gives the fabric its stretch.

Bed linens and garments made with a plain square weave (one thread over, one thread under) have a crisp, cool-to-the-touch feel and a matte finish. This type of fabric is breathable but not stretchy. Percale and linen feature a plain square weave.

Next, there’s satin weave, which is created with a one-under, four-under thread pattern. In addition to satin, sateen bedding and silk fabrics are made with this weave style. Satin weaves are slightly less breathable and thus generally warmer than knitted textiles and those with a plain square weave.

For more insight, see our guide on Sateen vs. Satin vs. Silk.

Where to Shop for Jersey Cotton

If you're looking for high-quality men's jersey outfits, casual women's garments or unisex pieces, shop the robes and loungewear collection at Parachute. You'll find shirts, tanks, comfy shorts, pants, sleep shirts, house dresses, wear-anywhere joggers, classic crewneck sweatshirts, robes, socks and even slippers.

Outside of loungewear, Parachute also carries luxury bedding at affordable price points. You’ll find European linen, organic cotton, buttery-smooth brushed cotton, sateen and percale woven from long-staple Egyptian cotton. Shop the collections today!

Read Next:

Fabric and Bedding Materials Guide

Best Organic Bedding: What to Look For in Organic Sheets

What is Oeko-Tex Certified Fabric? Why This Textile Certification Matters

How Often Should I Wash Cotton Sheets?

Why is European Flax Linen the Best In the World?

Sateen: Know Your Bedding Like a Designer

Brushed Cotton: Know Your Bedding Like a Designer

Percale: Know Your Bedding Like a Designer

Linen: Know Your Bedding Like a Designer

Best Towel Materials & Sizes

External Sources:

1. https://fashion-history.lovetoknow.com/fabrics-fibers/jersey-fabric

2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/249786023_Wicking_Behavior_and_Drying_Capability_of_Functional_Knitted_Fabrics

3. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0040517519883952