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Stretch Fabric • Lycra Fabric • Spandex Fabric

What is Spandex Fabric?

Known for its extraordinary elasticity, spandex has been used extensively for foundation garments and all types of active sportswear [including swimwear and dancewear since its introduction in 1958. Spandex is frequently called by one of its trade names - Lycra®.

Spandex fabric can be stretched repeatedly and still snap back to its original shape and length. It can be stretched from four to seven times its length without breaking. When compared to rubber, it is stronger, more durable with greater tear resistance. It is more resistant to abrasion, flexing, sunlight, weather, heat, detergent, body oil, and perspiration. It is lighter weight and can be made into finer yarns. It can be stitched through without damaging the fiber and reducing the recovery.

Spandex can be added to any fabric, knit or woven, and to a variety of fibers to add stretch in the length, width, or both directions.

Today, it is used in small amounts to add stretch and freedom of movement, improve the look, feel, fit, and comfort; maintain the shape; and eliminate bagging. It is used in large amounts for high stretch designs such as foundation garments, women's swimwear, skiwear, swimsuits, dance apparel and skating costumes.

Excerpted from Sew Any Fabric
by Claire Shaeffer

Stretch Fabric:
Spandex Fabric? Lycra Fabric?

When listing the fiber content of our stretch fabrics, we indicate Lycra® only when we are confident that the fabric actually contains the Lycra® fiber. Lycra® fabric is widely used by garment manufacturers whose surpluses we purchase. However, by the time a Lycra® fabrics reaches us, tags and labels have typically disappeared making it impossible for us to prove that our fabric contains Lycra®. This means that you will often see the fiber content of our stretch fabric identified as spandex even when there is a high likelihood that the fiber is Lycra®. Lycra® is a registered trademark of Invista.

Our site offers a large selection of stretch fabric suitable for wide variety of applications including dancewear, skating costumes and swimwear. Stretch fabric is now ubiquitous in the fashion realm and even appears in suitings based on spandex or Lycra blended with wool or silk. Although our current selection of this type of designer stretch fabric is now small, we expect to see it grow.