Characteristics of Stretch/Lycra Fabric

Stretch Lycra fabric is a lightweight, comfortable, and breathable fabric that dries quickly, and has moisture wicking properties away from the skin. It is very easy to commercially dye which is why you will find it available in bright and exotic colours and patterns.

Amazingly, is has a bacteria resistant nature, and also blocks ultraviolet rays from the sun, making it very useful for sportswear and swimwear to prevent sunburn.  It is resistant to sweat and to chemicals in detergents, and sun lotions, with the ability to stretch to several times its original size and then return to its original shape.

What you can make with Stretch/Lycra Fabric

For ordinary day wear, you will find stretch Lycra most often used for women’s clothing rather than in men’s clothing, although the world of Cycling is the exception to this rule. Here almost all garments are made from this fabric, and most often worn by men.

Garments that would be perfect for this type of fabric include: socks, swimwear, exercise clothing, sportswear and leggings. Most Football shirts, Cricket shirts and Rugby shirts are now made of this, using bright colours and designs for their Home and Away kits every season.

It is also used for underwear and for the new high fashion craze of ‘Body Shaping’ clothes, which have an under bodice or underskirt of Lycra that holds in any lumps and bumps to give a smooth and sylph-like contour to the outer dress or blouse. It is perfect for sportswear, fitness wear and leisure wear because it moves effortlessly with you and enables you to run, stretch and turn easily, without restriction.

Lycra fabric is very popular for consumer products such as: table covers, sofa and chair covers, bags, handbags and many other uses in the home.

Caring for Stretch/Lycra Garments

Always wash in cool temperatures whether by hand or in a machine. Dry cleaning is not necessary or recommended. Steer clear of fabric softener and dryer sheets because it leaves a residue that can dull the finish, attract bacteria and cause excessive odour.

Never use chlorine bleach to remove stains from stretch Lycra as the fibres will degenerate. Hang to dry away from direct heat and sun. There is no need to iron this fabric and for other fabrics that have a 2% or 4% Lycra content; you can iron on a low temperature, but be careful not to melt the fabric.

History of Stretch/Lycra fabric

Lycra was invented in 1958 as an alternative to rubber used in corsets. Being much more durable and stronger than rubber, it soon became the most popular choice for clothing manufacturers with its origins in the Hosiery industry of stockings, tights and hold-ups.

The 1930s saw a new Nylon Lycra stretch fabric that overnight changed the women’s hosiery industry into fitted stockings and tights that didn’t fall down, although production was stopped during the War years, when this new and exciting fabric was used for Parachutes and other Military straps and ropes.

Remember the Jane Fonda fitness craze in the 1970s? The first ever Lycra leotards, leggings and leg warmers, gave this fabric a new mainstream use that has since been taken up by almost every kind of Sport, in one form or another.