To Stretch or Not to Stretch?

To Stretch or Not to Stretch?

We’ve been talking a lot about stretch lately, especially wool/stretch fabrics. One of my staff asked me to clarify the terminology so I decided there may be others out there who would appreciate the clarification.

Spandex, an anagram for “expands”, is the generic term to describe a manufactured fiber that stretches from 4 to 7 times its size.

Lycra®, a registered trademark for Invista, was originally developed by Dupont. This word is like Kleenex or Xerox. It has become so common in usage that it’s very possible when you see that word on fabric content it is not truly Lycra®, but another spandex product.

Elastane – Most often used on European goods to indicate a stretch fiber. The trade name commonly used in European mills is Dorlastan®

At SBDF, we do our best to stay true to the labeling. We use the trademarks only when we know the mill tag has reflected that product.

Now to the characteristics. Many wools have only 1%-2%, which is plenty for comfort and limits the problems. Once you get into 4% and more, you have a lot of spandex to deal with. Like any fabric, the type of wool, the weight and twist of the yarn and sometimes even the dye can make a difference in the way a fabric performs. For this reason it is hard to make sweeping generalizations about working with wool/stretch.

For instance, we have a wonderful new lightweight stretch texture, Director, in-house which will perform very differently than our Pecan and Patina stretch wools which are smooth and quite bouncy with stretch. Different still will be the performance of Tuxedo, a black tropical wool with a touch of stretch.

Director

Pecan Tropical and Patina Tropical

We always suggest to our customers that they consider top-stitching details such as darts on a stretch woven. It helps control the bounce factor.  Many customers inquire about lining a stretch woven.  We like the idea of a stable lining with a wool stretch fabric for pants.  The lining has enough mechanical stretch to accomodate movement, but provides some stability to control the stretch.

Here at SBDF, we’ve been talking about pants fitting with stretch fabrics. Some have experienced difficulty in working with stretch in the crotch area. We’ve been noticing that manufactured pants often use a contour waistband with a seam at center back. Carole is doing some hands-on experimenting with this technique and will report her findings. What experience have you had? Anyone want to share?

Don’t want to do battle with the spandex when fitting pants?  We just brought it a number of tropical weight wools with no stretch that are perfect for core wardrobe pants.  Wool is such a wonderful fiber to work with.  It listens to you when you ask it to conform to the shape of your pattern!  If you’re one who is opposed to the dry cleaning costs…here are some tips to consider.

First, If you brush your pants and hang them after each wearing, you can often get away with only one cleaning per season.

Second, if you pre-wash your wool, you can make the pants washable.  You will get some “flocking” or “felting” depending on the fabrication, but if you can live with that, the wool stands up to the washing machine.

10 Responses to “To Stretch or Not to Stretch?”

  1. Fran

    2006-10-06T02:19:00+00:00

    Regarding sewing with stretch wovens I have found polyester thread has a little more give in it than cotton or silk thread.
    I have tried underlining a lightweight wool for a jacket with a fusible and as Barb points out each stretch fabric will react differently, I tried this one after I had successfully done a couple of others, this one did not like the fusible at all.
    My solution to this for jackets is to use a lightweight stretch poplin or broadcloth in areas that you might want to underline.
    My personal feeling is that if what Barb mentions is true, that each fabric is going to be different, then we are going to have to experiment with each piece of fabric we buy to see what is going to work best for it. Nothing in this area can now be a taken for granted.

  2. Fran

    2006-10-05T22:19:48+00:00

    Regarding sewing with stretch wovens I have found polyester thread has a little more give in it than cotton or silk thread.
    I have tried underlining a lightweight wool for a jacket with a fusible and as Barb points out each stretch fabric will react differently, I tried this one after I had successfully done a couple of others, this one did not like the fusible at all.
    My solution to this for jackets is to use a lightweight stretch poplin or broadcloth in areas that you might want to underline.
    My personal feeling is that if what Barb mentions is true, that each fabric is going to be different, then we are going to have to experiment with each piece of fabric we buy to see what is going to work best for it. Nothing in this area can now be a taken for granted.

  3. Kathleen Fasanella

    2006-10-09T19:55:00+00:00

    Spandex is a generic term? Wow, I never would have guessed. I learned something today :).
    Nice space you have here Barb. The design is easy on the eyes. Classy for a commercial blog too.

  4. Kathleen Fasanella

    2006-10-09T15:55:33+00:00

    Spandex is a generic term? Wow, I never would have guessed. I learned something today :).
    Nice space you have here Barb. The design is easy on the eyes. Classy for a commercial blog too.

  5. Thread A Sewing Machine

    2006-12-20T08:29:00+00:00

    Thread A Sewing Machine

    An all-purpose thread can be purchased at any Radio Shack), (And I think the fir

  6. Thread A Sewing Machine

    2006-12-20T03:29:52+00:00

    Thread A Sewing Machine

    An all-purpose thread can be purchased at any Radio Shack), (And I think the fir

  7. Peggy White

    2007-01-30T16:10:00+00:00

    It would be helpful if you would provide a link in your blog for the fabrics you talk about. I just spent 10 minutes trying to find the Swiss cottons on your store web site and finally gave up. Thanks.

  8. Peggy White

    2007-01-30T11:10:29+00:00

    It would be helpful if you would provide a link in your blog for the fabrics you talk about. I just spent 10 minutes trying to find the Swiss cottons on your store web site and finally gave up. Thanks.

  9. Rane

    2007-07-01T23:06:00+00:00

    Do you have any idea where I can find tan-thru fabric?
    I have found it is most often listed as Dorlastan or Dorlastan-Spandex.
    I have no shortage of sites that sell pre-made swimwear, or even shirts.
    However I cannot find how to locate the fabric itself!
    -Thanks
    Rane

  10. Rane

    2007-07-01T19:06:43+00:00

    Do you have any idea where I can find tan-thru fabric?
    I have found it is most often listed as Dorlastan or Dorlastan-Spandex.
    I have no shortage of sites that sell pre-made swimwear, or even shirts.
    However I cannot find how to locate the fabric itself!
    -Thanks
    Rane

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