Stretch Fabric Guide

Stretch fabric is a cloth which has the ability to stretch. It is made partially of elastic fibers such as lycra, elastane, spandex (different names of the same synthetic fiber). There are also knit fabrics which stretch due to the production method – looping.

Stretch fabric simplifies sewing, as it is a figure-flattering material. Lycra (elastane or spandex) increases the wear resistance of the product, at the same time it doesn’t neutralize the advantages of other materials. For example, stretch cotton cloth preserves all the positive properties of cotton fabric: breathability, water-absorbing function, hypoallergenicity. Stretch fabrics are perfect for women clothes, sportswear, stage outfits, underwear and home textiles.

stretch fabric

Lycra vs Spandex vs Elastane

Lycra, spandex and elastane are different names of the same synthetic fiber, made of polymer- polyurethane rubber. Lycra is a brand name registered by the Dupont Company. This name of the elastic material is popular in UK, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, Ireland and Israel.

Spandex is an anagram of the word "expands". This name of the fiber is common for Asia, North and South America. It features exceptional elasticity, has a great crease recovery and returns to its original length after stretching (recovery rate is up to 95%).

Elastane is a prevailing name in European countries: France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Holland.

1-way, 2-way and 4-way Stretch Fabrics

The two main types are 2-way and 4-way stretch fabrics. 2-way stretch fabrics have warp stretch or weft stretch (some call them 1-way stretch fabrics). They are enough comfortable to wear but are not suitable for such garments as sports or activewear. Another feature of 2-way stretch cloth is that it doesn’t return to original shape.

The term one-way stretch can also refer to knits and their percentage of stretch. It is a very low level, which means that such fabrics stretch very little (0% - 25%).

4-way stretch fabrics can extend in both directions – crosswise and longwise, which creates better elasticity and makes them perfect for sportswear. Stretch jersey fabrics also have warp and weft stretch, because they are knitted, not woven.

stretch knit fabric


Let’s see what the most popular stretch fabrics on the market are and find out their characteristics and uses.

Table 1. Stretch Fabric Types
Fabric Characteristics Uses

Stretch jersey knit

Soft and opaque, with a 4-way stretch. Viscose material has more stretch than cotton jerseys

Dresses, skirts, tops

Cotton jersey knit

Soft, with an excellent drape, 2-way stretch and smooth finish. Cotton allows the skin to breathe.

Usually, cotton jersey knit fabrics do not contain elastic fibers and their ability to stretch refers to the method of production – looping

Women tops, dresses, skirts, wide-leg trousers, cardigans

Stretch cotton poplin

Delightfully soft and breathable, opaque. Contains elastane or lycra (usually 97% cotton and 3% elastane or 98% cotton and 2% lycra)

Warmer weather dresses, blouses, shirts and skirts

Stretch cotton

Soft, breathable and pleasant to the touch, good choice for summer apparel

Blouses, dresses, shirts, skirts. Heavyweight stretch cotton is also perfect for jackets and trousers

Stretch cotton shirting

Made of high quality cotton, with a crisp feel, keeps original color for a long time

Shirts, dresses

Stretch cotton sateen

Soft and smooth to the touch, considerably dense, keeps color very well

Blouses, elegant dresses and skirts. Heavyweight stretch cotton sateen is good for suits

Stretch cotton jacquard

Breathable and exquisitely soft, with good crease resistance, texture is slightly raised, completely opaque

Dresses, jackets, skirts

Stretch viscose jacquard

Soft, usually with a lovely drape, can be semi-sheer or opaque, with a slightly raised texture

Dresses, blouses, tunics, tops, skirts

Stretch silk satin

Smooth and lustrous, with a subtle sheen and gorgeous drape, lightweight

Blouses, dresses, skirts, evening wear and underwear

Stretch silk crepe

Opaque and crisp, with an exceptional drape and ability to hold shape, soft, with a matt sheen, usually medium or heavyweight

Dresses, jackets, skirts, trousers

Stretch silk lining

Lightweight and breathable, ensures comfort in wear


Stretch satin chiffon

Soft, with a silky hand and gorgeous sheen, lightweight, semi-sheer, creates beautiful drape, durable

Blouses, dresses, skirts

Stretch wool

Smooth and soft, durable and completely opaque,

warm and comfy, wrinkle-resistant

Jackets, cardigans, dresses, skirts, trousers and sweatshirts

Stretch wool crepe

With a dense texture, crisp hand, thin and durable, with a matt face and an easy drape

Dresses, jackets, skirts

Stretch velvet

Soft and durable. It is usually made of cotton or viscose

Dresses, jackets, skirts, sweatshirts, trousers

Stretch Lace vs Stretch Tulle Fabrics

Stretch lace is an openwork fabric, which contains elastic fibers. Lycra (elastane) is added to lace during production process to make the fabric durable. Stretchable lace is perfect for such details of apparel as sleeves, as lycra makes them less wearable. It is an ideal choice for lingerie, overlays, shrugs and more.

Stretch tulle is a lightweight mesh fabric with a touch of elastane. It usually has a wonderful 4-way stretch. The fabric is soft and features a fluid drape. Stretch tulle is perfect for underlays and inserts. Choose it to decorate necklines, hems or use it as overlay material.

red stretch fabric

How to Sew with It?

Stretch fabrics are pure pleasure to wear, however, it seems quite challenging to sew with them. Here are some life hacks that will help you with your design project.

  1. Ballpoint Needle. If the needle point is sharp it can damage the fabric. The ballpoint needle features a rounded one.
  2. Use Zig Zag stitch. This type of stitch will let your fabric stretch along the seam. It is an alternative to a serger.
  3. Polyester Thread. Choose it instead of cotton thread. The polyester thread has a slight amount of stretch.
  4. Do not stretch the fabric when cutting. It is super important. Put your stretch fabric on a table or floor without hanging edges and only after that cut it.
  5. Curl factor. Check the edges of your stretch fabric. If they are curling, use a warm iron to flatten the edges.

Do not hurry and have fun! Sewing is a creative process.


Tissura offers stretch fabrics from the leading European manufacturers. At our online store, you can buy stretch fabrics coming with the high quality and original prints from:

  • Italy — Luigi Colombo, Taroni, Carnet, Loro Piana, Cotonificio Albini, Leggiuno, Redaelli, Marioboselli Jersey, Grosber, Binda, Agnona, Ruffo Coli, Marco Lagattolla, Etro, Fabric Lab;
  • France — Belinac, Guigou, Sophie Hallette;
  • Switzerland — Hausammann;
  • Great Britain — Liberty.

Stretch fabric garments fit any figure, emphasize the body lines, they are durable and are pure pleasure to wear. Choose stretch fabrics for everyday apparel to look cool and feel comfy.

Stretch fabrics

Stretch cotton fabric, 39 € (47 US$) per one running metre;

Stretch cotton fabric

Stretch cotton fabric, 39 € (47 US$) per one running metre;

Stretch fabric

Stretch cotton fabric, 39 € (47 US$) per one running metre;

stretch jacquard fabric

Stretch jacquard fabric, 59 € (71 US$) per one running metre

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