When working on textile projects, the very first thing you need to decide, after choosing the design, is what type of fabric you are going to use.
Whether you use a rigid fabric or a stretchy one, how stretchy you need it to be, and many more. But, when we look on the internet, we might get the names of many different fabrics with different characteristics, and that can be confusing.
For beginners, polyester fabric might be one of the best fabrics, as it is versatile and can be used in several different projects.
Let’s find the answers to some of the most popular questions about it: is polyester stretchy? How is it made? Is it a natural fabric? Or is it synthetic? Stay tuned!
What is polyester?
Polyester is a synthetic type of fabric that was first created in the 1930s and commercialized in the clothes industry for the first time in the 1940s. As incredible as it may sound, polyester is a polymer. That means it’s plastic!
There are several types of polyester fibers used nowadays, but the most popular is PET, which is the same plastic used in bottles and packaging in general. Isn’t it amazing? Through time, polyester fabric has changed quite a lot.
The weaving process is different, as is the manufacturing. These allowed fibers to be softer and more comfortable for users in general.
What are the advantages of using polyester?
The main reason why clothes’ manufacturers use polyester is that it’s cheaper, but at the same time, it’s more durable and resistant. It doesn’t lose its shape over time or after many washes, and its color doesn’t bleed.
Besides, it can be combined with other materials to achieve the ideal composition according to the use you are going to give it. That’s where the answer to “does polyester stretch?” comes.
The quick answer is yes! It does stretch on its own, but how stretchy is polyester depends on what you combine it with.
Is polyester stretchy?
As we said, the quick answer to this question is yes, but there are factors that change polyester stretch. On its own, polyester is a 4-way stretchy fabric.
The fact that it’s stretchy and it doesn’t lose its shape, also allows your items of clothing to be wrinkle-proof! That makes it one of the most popular clothing materials in the modern era, as people don’t usually iron their clothes as they used to.
However, depending on what the polyester fibers are mixed with, you can obtain different levels of stretch according to your needs.
Some of the combinations you can find are:
At the same time, each of these combinations can be achieved with different proportions of each material, which also provides them with different features.
The first combination, cotton-polyester, is not stretchy at all. Cotton fibers rigid, and although this mix is not stretchy, it gives the fabric a silky touch, as polyester is softer than cotton.
The second combination is the stretchiest, as spandex can stretch up to 400% of its size! It’s crazy stretchy! This mix is the most commonly used in leisure wear, as it adapts perfectly to the body, it’s durable, and it’s breathable.
Besides, because both types of fabric are completely synthetic, they don’t allow bacteria to grow on them and make them antimicrobial, which is perfect for sweat time.
Spandex can also be found by the name of lycra or elastane. Items with this fabric can be leggings or sports bras.
The last combination is one of the most popular for loose leisure wear, as it is silky, and breathable, while durable. You can make sports t-shirts with this kind of fabric.
What’s the disadvantage of synthetic fabrics?
Although polyester, spandex and other synthetic fibers have all the benefits listed above, there are also great downsides that you should consider when you are using this textile for your products.
These disadvantages are not related to the material and its uses themselves, but the ecological impact of its manufacturing process.
Like all other kinds of plastic, polyester is made out of petroleum derivates. First, the process of extraction of petroleum, as we know, is a contaminating activity.
After that, turning the oil into the fibers takes up tons of energy, which also represents an increase in the carbon footprint. Once the fabric is made, whether 100% polyester or combined with other fibers, and used for making items of clothing, there comes the biggest issue.
The fact that polyester is so durable and resistant is a benefit when you are still using it, but it turns into a problem when the items are not used anymore.
The durability of the material makes it super hard to degrade, so it could last for dozens of years on earth until it is dissolved again.
Besides, this issue is worsened by the pressure society, and even more, companies exert on buyers to have new clothes every season.
If all used our clothes for many years, the disposal of plastic fibers would be a lot lower, but as the industry pushes people to follow every new fashion, the yearly disposal is huge.
That’s why, when choosing what kinds of fabric we want to use, there are many things we may want to keep in mind: what are you going to make with this fabric? What are your customers going to use your clothes for? Is it environmentally friendly?
Of course, it’s up to you whether you care or not about all these factors, but it’s nice to have all the information before making the choice.
So, next time your customers ask you “is polyester stretchy?” you can answer them with plenty of details!