If you’ve ever read my blog, it should be no surprise that I love bamboo jersey. In fact, it’s probably my favorite knit fabric to work with. And that means I’m always on the lookout for good quality bamboo jersey at reasonable prices because let me tell you, that stuff can get expensive!
I’ve purchased bamboo jersey from a number of places at varying prices, but I never thought to look for it at Cali until recently (that was kind of a “duh” *face palm* moment for me since I buy everything else from Cali!). And it turns out that while Cali may not have as many bamboo jersey options as you may find elsewhere, there is a nice selection of solids at the best prices I’ve seen anywhere!
For this Penny Raglan (pattern by Grainline Studios), I chose a lovely lavender bamboo stretch jersey. This is a pattern that needs fabric with a lot of drape — it’s pretty much a box with sleeves, and that’s exactly why I love it!
This bamboo jersey was perfect for the Penny. It has tons of drape, which makes that big boxy shape lay really nicely against the body. Even though this is one of the most shapeless tops I own (along with my other Penny), I think it may be one of the most flattering! And a lot of that has to do with fabric choice.
One thing I love about bamboo jersey is that, unlike a lot of knits with this level of drape, it isn’t the slightest bit see-through. Often lightweight drapey knits, particularly in lighter colors, are somewhat translucent, which can be an issue for the modest among us (not a problem I am known to have), or for those whose light-colored bras are in the wash (something I am more likely to encounter). I’ve never found that to be an issue with bamboo. It’s almost always thicker than your average knit, with as much drape as even the drapiest rayon knit.
So now that my love for bamboo is well-documented for the world to see, the only question remaining is which color to buy next???
Benefits of Bamboo:
- Bamboo has a beautiful drape and hand. It has just as much drape as a rayon jersey or even a silk jersey, making it a great choice for projects like the Penny.
- Bamboo jersey tends to be heftier than other drapey knits. This is distinctly not a tissue knit, and even pale colors like white and lavender are not translucent.
- Bamboo has some natural odor-repellent qualities, which is why it’s my favorite for frequently-worn items like t-shirts and tanks.
Tips for Working With Bamboo:
- Buy extra! Bamboo shrinks like crazy in the wash (and we are all prewashing right???), so make sure you’re covered (literally and figuratively) and buy a little more than you normally would to account for shrinkage.
- After you initially launder your yardage, you really shouldn’t put bamboo in the dryer. You can dry it, but you will risk further shrinkage, and damaging your fabric since bamboo rayon fibers are very fragile when wet.
- Wash bamboo infrequently. Bamboo jersey stands up to washing better than most rayon jersey, but it is still a form of rayon and it prefers not to be washed. Luckily bamboo is more odor resistant than most fabrics, so I find that I don’t need to wash it often.
- Lower the heat on your iron. Bamboo jersey, like all rayon, can get shiny if pressed with high heat.
- Use a press cloth when pressing your seams to help reduce the tendency of bamboo to get shiny.
- Like all drapey knits, bamboo jersey is much easier to hem if you use a stabilizer like Wondertape prior to sewing/coverstitching.
**All photo credit in this post goes to my friend Rebecca Collier, a Kansas City photographer, who can be found at Go Dream Photos.