Tips to Sew French Terry Fabric

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French terry is a great fabric to sew and wear, and it comes in lots of weights and fibers. Learn how to sew French terry fabric and how to care for it.

One of my favorite fabrics to sew and wear is French terry. When I first heard about it years ago I thought everyone was talking about fabric used for towels. Now that I know more and have used lots of different kinds, I can teach you tips to sew French terry!

Tips to Sew French Terry Fabric

What is French Terry?

french terry details

French terry is a knit fabric and not a woven fabric. The front of the fabric is a single knit jersey. The back of the has lots of loops across the whole fabric. The loops are really good at holding the warm air next to your skin keeping you warm.

French terry is a great fabric for Fall, Winter, and Spring. The stretch makes it comfortable to wear and the loops along the back keep you warm.

The print is usually on the right side of the fabric, but sometimes it’s on the loop side like the fabric below.

french terry front and back

What is the difference between French Terry and Fleece?

Polar fleece is 100% polyester. Both sides are a fuzzy and almost have a brushed look. It is very warm and holds in heat.

Sweatshirt fleece can come in different blends and is often 100% cotton or 50%/50% cotton polyester. The front side is a single knit jersey and the back side is brushed and fuzzy.

french terry or fleece

What is the difference between French Terry and Jersey?

Jersey is a knit fabric made with loops going in and out of each other. The front has “V’s” all over the front and “M’s” all over the back. Jersey is a lightweight knit fabric. It’s most often used for t-shirts and knit dresses.

Check out these tips for sewing jersey fabric

Tips to Sew French Terry Fabric

What is the difference between French Terry and Terry cloth?

Terry cloth is a woven non-stretch fabric with loops on both sides. It’s towel fabric and wouldn’t be that comfortable to wear. It’s also medium to heavy weight.

French terry is a knit fabric with loops on one side and smooth on the other side. It can be lightweight or medium weight.

french terry fabric sewing

How do you wash French Terry?

Follow the directions for care for the fabric. I like to wash my fabric the way I would wash it after wearing it. To test my fabric I usually cut two pieces of fabric four inches by four inches. I wash and dry one, and then I compare it to the original. If I’m okay with the result I’ll wash and dry the fabric before sewing it.

french terry fabric cardigan

Sewing French Terry Fabric

French terry can be lightweight or heavyweight. Depending on the weight of the French terry I’m using, I treat it like a lightweight knit or a heavyweight knit. I use these techniques for sewing knit fabric. I also love these tips for serging heavy knit fabric.

  • Use a ballpoint sewing machine needle
  • Use a stretch stitch
  • Don’t push or pull the fabric when sewing
french terry fabric sewing

The one drawback to sewing French terry fabric is that it’s hard to seam rip. You don’t want to rip any of the loops on the back, but it’s really hard to see your stitches. Try really hard to not make mistakes so you don’t have to unpick it.

french terry weights

Patterns for French Terry

I love to use French terry for warm cozy clothes, ear warmers, or comfy hats. These are just a few of the patterns that I love to sew with French Terry fabric:

french terry fabric sewing

Where to Buy French Terry

There are different types of French Terry that I really enjoy using. I’ll link to each shop and what I like to buy there:

  • Raspberry Creek Fabrics – cotton spandex French terry: this fabric has the best recovery of any French terry, but it does not have a lot of drape. There are lots of prints to choose from, and they are always changing.
  • – French terry*: the widest range of different types of French terry in one place. My favorite is the Telio brand or the bamboo rayon.
  • APC Fabrics – The selection is always changing, but the cardigan I made for this post is from here. It is a thick 100% cotton, and it has a nice drape.
sew french terry cardigan

If you make something using this sewing project, I’d love to see! Please share it on social media with the hashtag #heatherhandmade and tag me!

sew french terry fabric
heather sewing

I believe small sewing moments can create great joy. Find your own “right” way to sew. -Heather

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Is that your pattern? I would love to have it if it’s available to purchase.

Thank you for this! I just bought four yards of French Terry and I am grateful for the info on using it. Cutting and washing a 4×4” piece of fabric to wash and dry before washing the whole piece of fabric is genius and I can’t believe I have never attempted it. I sew with a lot of knits and I usually hang dry them all, so this could be a game changer!

Hi Heather, I’m trying to sew a onesie for a friend who chose a French Terry fabric and I’m having difficulty sewing the zipper. Looking for info and help I came accross this page. The fabric doesn’t stay straight and kind of warp. Would you have tips? Is there something special I have to do? I would very love to not have to seam rip for a third time.

Hi Heather, do you have a pattern for the stripey cardigan you have pictured? It’s absolutely gorgeous!

Wonderful, thank you so much!

I hadn’t heard of APC fabric before–thank you! They have a really interesting collection of fabrics! French Terry is such a nice fabric to work with. I’ve had good success with universal needles too, though I love it on my serger and especially coverstitch. The only thing I don’t like are all the messy loops on edges, but the coverstitch or twill tape on a neck binding will fix that!