In the fabric world, there are a variety of different types of stretch fabric available for you to choose between, and its popularity for dressmaking is due to the comfort, recovery and bounce. It is also important to understand there is a difference between knitted and woven stretch fabrics. As there are so many to choose from, it is so important to get your fabrics right and make sure your finished garment hangs exactly as you want it to. To help you make your mind up, the team at Fabrics Galore has put together this guide to the different types of stretch fabrics in the UK.
The Difference Between Woven and Knit Stretch Fabric
Woven stretch fabrics tend to include Spandex rather than Elastane and usually only have 3% Spandex in a 1-way stretch to provide a little bit of stretch for comfort and fit with a decent level of recovery after being "stretched". Woven stretch fabrics include our stretch cotton sateen, stretch cotton poplin, and our stretch denim fabrics. They are good for more structured garments.
Knit stretch fabrics tend to have elastane in the fabric, up to 5% and this provides stretch both ways with good recovery and bounce. Knit stretch fabrics are defined by their looped threads and include all our jerseys, most of our sweatshirt fabrics and all our cotton elastane blend fabrics. Let's look at the range of knit stretch fabrics first.
Types of Knit Stretch Fabrics
Jersey stretch fabrics
Jersey fabric can be found in soft, stretchy dresses, polo shirts, and tops, as well as in sheets. Increasingly, there are now so many more options for different prints as the popularity of this fabric has grown. It is a soft stretchy, knit fabric that was originally made from wool, but is now made from cotton blends and synthetic fibres. Its stretchy properties make it a great choice for items that require movement, especially as it provides great comfort for the wearer.
Cotton elastane fabric
Just like jersey stretch fabrics, elastane fabric has amazing stretch as well as great recovery, and is made of fibres which are man-made. The fibres are never used alone and are used in combination with other yarns such as polyester, cotton and viscose. Here at Fabrics Galore, we truly believe that the invention of this fibre changed things for the better throughout the clothing industry - especially for the performance and sportswear sector. It is very lightweight and breathable, making it ideal as it still allows freedom of movement for anyone looking to exercise. We have fabulous cotton elastane range at Fabrics Galore many of which meet the strict OEKO-TEX 100 standard for textiles which means they have been manufactured free from any harmful chemicals.
Viscose elastane fabric
Although polyester and cotton are often used for sportswear, the blend of viscose and elastane is the perfect balance to create a soft smooth finish which feels lovely against your skin. It is lightweight and drapes beautifully, so it can also be used to make beautifully flowing dresses and clothing garments which are skin-friendly and have the appearance of cotton or silk.
Many of our ponte roma fabrics are made of viscose and elastane (see below).
Double jersey fabric
See our gorgeous double jersey ponte roma fabrics
This type of jersey fabric is a heavier material and less stretchy than usual jersey and is the perfect fabric choice for more structured and durable pieces - like blazers. Double jersey fabric is also commonly referred to as Ponti di Roma or Ponte Roma, which has a firm strong knit that holds its shape. Its name refers to the looped composition, which when magnified resembles bridge arches - also known as “Bridges of Rome”. If you are looking to start a dressmaking project, or even create fashion accessories such as scarves, double jersey fabric would be ideal for you.
If you are looking to design and make a sweatshirt, the fabrics are often made from a blend of fabrics which create a smooth, soft surface which is stretchy and comfortable to wear. However, depending on the sweatshirting project you are looking to take on, fabric blends can also be used to take on a variety of textures. For example, you can choose between blended brushed back, fleece-backed and double-face fabric, it is completely up to you and the look or feel you want to achieve.
Types of Woven Stretch Fabrics
Stretch Cotton Sateen
As mentioned earlier woven stretch fabrics are ideal for more structured garments which only require a little bit of stretch and recovery (bounce) from the one way stretch. Our collections of woven stretch fabrics include our lemon stretch cotton sateen which is a customer favourite, has a one way stretch and is ideal for making capri pants.
Denim stretch fabrics
Stretch denim is a cotton/polyester blend of fabric which incorporates a small amount of elastane, providing the wearer with more flexibility. Many people find them to be softer and more comfortable than standard jeans, whilst incorporating more recovery and bounce – jeans with stretch denim typically including one to three percent elastane. They also have the advantage of reducing the "knee" stretch you can get with other denims. Fabrics Galore stocks a variety of stretch denim fabrics in amazing colours like hot pink and turquoise.
How to Measure Fabric Stretch
If your pattern requires a specific amount of stretch, you may want to measure the stretch of your chosen fabric to ensure it will be right for your make. The easiest way to do this is to take 10cm of your chosen fabric and see how far along the tape measure or ruler you can stretch it. For example, if you can stretch it to 12cm (an additional 2cm) then this is classed as 20% stretch. If you can stretch it to 15cm then it has 50% stretch. Do ask one of out expert team members if you are buying online and can't do the stretch test in person!
Need a stretch fabric for your next dressmaking project?
Fabrics Galore tend to stock fabrics with a maximum of 5% stretch rather than the 20% stretch often used in dance wear and lycra products. If you are looking to purchase stretch fabrics for dressmaking in the UK, please do not hesitate to visit the Fabrics Galore website. If you would like to talk over any queries you may have regarding our fabrics with a dedicated member of the Fabrics Galore team, then just give us a call now on 020 7738 9589.