Friday, February 5, 2016

Facts About Popular Stretch Fabrics

Stretch fabric is used for making many types of garments, and there are different types of stretch fabric that are best suited to certain types of garments.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Facts About Popular Stretch Fabrics

Stretchy fabric can be 2-way stretch fabric, such as cotton knit fabric or 4-way stretch fabric such as cotton-spandex.


Elastane is a copolymer created from a blend of polyester and polyurethane. This copolymer blend is stronger than natural rubber and it also lasts longer, making it popular for sportswear. It is commonly sold under the names Spandex and Lycra. 

  • Spandex
    • What is Spandex? Spandex is usually blended with other fibers to make stretchy fabric that is comfortable. Blending Spandex fiber with cotton or polyester fiber creates a fabric that stretches like elastane but feels like the other fiber being used.
  • Lycra
    • What is Lycra? Lycra is an elastane fiber created by the DuPont Company. Lycra is always used in alliance with another fabric fiber. Lycra stretches from four to seven times its original length yet always returns to original shape once the tension is removed from the fibers.
  • Lycra-Spandex Blend
    • The term Lycra-Spandex is a really popular term, but in fact, it is saying the same thing twice because Lycra is a brand of Spandex, which is made from the fiber called elastane.

Knit Fabric

Regular knit fabric is a two-way stretch fabric, such as cotton knit fabric, and it is the type of fabric used to make t-shirts or stretchy dress slacks that do not cling, or do not cling too much.

Tips for Sewing Stretch Fabric

Ballpoint Needles: To sew stretch fabric, use a ball point needle for the best result. You can get away with some universal needles, but to avoid the risk of making runs in your fabric, a ballpoint is your safest option.

Ballpoint Pins: Use ballpoint straight pins to pin the pattern to the fabric, or better yet, use sewing weights and avoid making any holes in your stretch fabric.

Stretch Stitch: Set your sewing machine to make a stretch stitch or a zigzag stitch. If you use a straight stitch on a stretchy garment, the stitches can pull out and the thread can break the first time you wear the garment. 

Don't Stretch Fabric When Sewing: Let the sewing machine's feed dogs pull the fabric gently through the sewing machine. Don't pull the fabric while sewing - unless you are trying to create a lettuce-edge effect.

One final set of tips - these are about caring for your elastane garments, which include spandex and Lycra: Never wash elastane in hot water. Warm or cold is best. Do not use bleach. And, finally, if you put the garment in the dryer, use the lowest heat setting possible, but it's really best to just line dry garments made from these unique stretch fabrics.

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