At first, Stretchy fabrics may be a pain in the ass to many sewists because of how hard it is to work with them, but most of the time, the finished products from these fabrics earn the admiration of consumers, making them one of the most desired fabrics in the industry.
The stretchy fabric is usually made with a synthetic fiber known as Elastane.
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Sadly, even though at least 70% of consumers have this fiber or fabric in their closet, only a few know that such material exists.
If you have not heard about this fantastic fabric or want to know more about it, this article is for you because part of its content includes what is Elastane fabric, its advantages and disadvantages, and so many other interesting facts about the fabrics.
What are Elastane fabrics?
Actually, for a better understanding of this concept, it would be better for you to consider Elastane more as a fiber rather than as a fabric.
After that, you can simply define Elastane as a lightweight synthetic fiber for making stretchy fabrics like sportswear.
What are Elastane fabrics made of?
Elastane comprises at least 85% of polyurethane, a stretchy elastomeric polymer that is also found in rubber.
Elastane fibers or fabrics contain several strands of polymer, which are composed majorly of 2 segments: the short solid and the long amorphous segments.
These two segments make it possible for the fabric or fiber to be stretched with ease and recoil once they are released.
Where is Elastane fabric made?
The original manufacturer of Elastane fabric is DuPont, a textile manufacturing company based in the United States.
This fabric is trademarked and marketed by this company under the name Lycra, the largest producer and exporter of Elastane fabrics in China.
What kind of fabric is Elastane?
For simplicity, refer to this fabric as a lightweight synthetic fiber.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of Elastane?
- The most striking advantage of Elastane fabric is its stretchiness and elasticity: a typical elastane fabric can stretch up to 600% of its original size. This will offer you the freedom of free movement and motion when working with it without having to worry about the shape or crease of the fabric.
- Elastane fabric is highly durable, which to a great length is due to the natural resilience of the material. Naturally, Elastane fabric is resistant to crease, sunlight, saltwater, and elements.
- It is effortless to care for as it can both be machine or hand-washed. And also, because they don’t wrinkle, they usually don’t require to be ironed.
- The fabric can be easily dyed.
- It is lightweight, soft, and has a smooth surface making them very comfortable to wear.
- The fabric is stain resistant, and because of this, in some cases, all that may be required to get cleaned may just be rinsing the dirt with water.
- It has low moisture absorbency level.
- Once Elastane fabric works out, it is usually complicated to get them recycled, which may impact the environment.
- When exposed to abrasive cleaners like bleach, it can easily get damaged.
- It has a very low thermal insulation property which means they are not an ideal cloth type for winter.
- It can cause allergies.
- It clings to the body and wouldn’t allow the skin to breathe freely.
What is Elastane fabric like?
Elastane fabric has the same feel as rubber — lightweight, soft and smooth.
Why is Elastane used in clothing?
The primary reason why Elastane is used in clothing is to make the cloth piece stretchy.
Is Elastane a good material?
Yes, Elastane is a good material. If you want your project to be stretchy, you should consider using Elastane.
Elastane, compared to its closest rival rubber, is much stronger, lighter, and highly versatile. Plus, this fabric is regarded as one of the most suitable for activewear because it is highly breathable and it’s excellent moisture-wicking capacities.
Is Elastane fabric toxic?
Yes, Elastane is toxic. Elastane may be one of the best stretch fabrics out there. Still, the fact that it is a synthetic fiber treated with chemicals containing carcinogens like polyurethane is a dent in its reputation.
Prolonged contact with this fabric can lead to irritation of the lungs and also trigger asthma.
Other side effects associated with this fabric include swelling of the brain and headaches.
Is Elastane fabric stretchy?
Yes, Elastane fabric is stretchy. Ordinarily, Elastane is a synthetic stretchy material, so naturally, it is going to stretch.
In many cases, Elastane is applied to fabrics to make them elastic.
Are Elastane fabrics breathable?
Yes, Elastane fabrics are breathable. Breathability may not be the most talked about the property of Elastane fabrics, but the material is undoubtedly breathable.
This quality allows the fabric to easily wick moisture away and dry very quickly without staying wet for a long time.
Is Elastane the same as Polyester?
No, Elastane is not the same as Polyester. Normally, both Elastane and Polyester are synthetic fabrics, and beyond that, they don’t seem to have any other thing in common.
For instance, Elastane fabrics are usually elastic and, in most cases, resistant to cut; polyester fabric does not have any of these qualities unless they are built into them using some chemicals or blended with a particular fiber.
On the other end, Polyester boasts more usage compared to Elastane fabrics.
Are Spandex and Elastane the same?
Yes, Spandex and Elastane are the same. Aside from being known as Elastane, this fabric also has some other names, like Spandex and Lycra. And because of this, they are usually used interchangeably.
Is Elastane cotton?
No, Elastane and cotton are not the same. Cotton and Elastane are two different fabrics entirely.
The first noticeable difference between these two fabrics is their fiber types: while the former is a natural fiber, the latter is a synthetic fiber.
Also, they have different properties entirely: while one is good at regulating the temperature, the other is not. The list can be endless, but the most important thing to know is that they are not the same.
Can you dye 95% polyester and 5% elastane fabrics?
Yes, it is possible to dye fabrics containing elastane and polyester. It is very much possible for you to dye fabric made with 95% polyester and 5% elastane. Still, I must say, this is not an easy feat for even an expert to achieve because it’s a highly complex process.
Ordinarily, the temperature level for dyeing a polyester fabric is 130°c, and that of the elastane is 102°c. If elastane is exposed to high heat, it will get damaged, which is why most people would readily agree that it is impossible to successfully dye fabrics containing these two fibers.
Can you iron Elastane fabrics?
Yes, you can iron Elastane fabric, but it is not advisable.
Elastane fabric is not a fabric type that wrinkles easily, so if you wash, dry, and store them properly, they are not likely to wrinkle and hence may not need to be ironed. But if your elastane fabric should wrinkle and requires to be ironed, so long it is stated on the care label that you can do so, then you can go ahead, albeit it must be done on the lowest heat setting.
How to wash Elastane fabric
Elastane fabrics can be washed with hands or in the machine. But for better results, I would recommend pre-treating your Elastane fabrics before starting any of the two methods. This section will guide you through the process.
Pre-treating Elastane fabrics
Pre-treat Elastane fabrics with stain remover solution or wash & stain bar, focusing on the part of the garments that are more likely to get stained easily, like the underarms, waistband, necklines, and straps.
The stain remover solution is the most ideal for coffee, blood, urine, grass, whine, and old stains, while the wash bar is perfect for sunscreen, makeup, grease, dirt, and oil stains.
Handwashing Elastane fabric
- Fill the sink with enough cool to-warm water and add 2 capfuls of sports detergent to make a cleaning solution.
- Soak the fabric in the solution for about 30 minutes and make sure to agitate the solution so that the soap is evenly spread.
- Rinse the fabric under running water until it is lather free.
- Press excess water out of the fabric.
Washing with the washing machine
- Turn the garment inside out and place it in a mesh bag. This will prevent the fabric from snagging or tearing in the machine and also will help preserve its elasticity.
- Set the machine to a delicate cycle and wash it with cool water and sports detergent.
How to stretch Elastane fabric?
Majorly there are two significant ways of stretching Elastane fabrics.
The first method requires that you soak the fabric in hot water of about 49 to 60°c and stretch the material towards the direction you want it to stretch. With this method, how far the Elastane fabric will stretch depends on whether it is 100% elastane or blended with other materials.
The second method involves sewing one part of the fabric and pulling the fabric as you sew other parts of the fabric.