Lyocell is a version of rayon fabric that is primarily used to make jeans and blouses. When purchasing clothing made from lyocell or using lyocell fabric for a sewing project, you want to know its characteristics, including whether or not lyocell stretches.
Lyocell is not the stretchiest fabric but it does have a little bit of stretch to it. It is made from wood cellulose, so it will have a similar stretch as other plant-based fibers such as cotton. Lyocell can also be combined with other fibers to make it more stretchy.
If you’ve never worn or used lyocell, you may be wondering what exactly it is. And if it does stretch, how much? Can you stretch it yourself if you need to? All of your questions about the stretchiness of lyocell can be found by reading this article.
What is Lyocell?
Lyocell is a fabric that is more commonly known as Tencel. It is commonly used as a substitute for cotton and silk. It was created by the American Enka company in 1972, but the idea for this fabric was abandoned after the pilot program. A few years later, in the 1980s, the research for lyocell was picked up by Courtalds Fabrics, a British company that created the fabric under the name Tencel.Lyocell is a semi-synthetic fabric that is made from wood cellulose. It is produced by first breaking down wood such as birch into chips. The chips are then placed into a chemical bath, which softens them into wood pulp.
Next, the pulp has to be washed and bleached in some cases, dried and rolled up into sheets. The sheets are then broken down and the cellulose from the wood pulp is dissolved. It turns into a clear liquid and is then forced through a spinneret that turns it into fibers. Once the fibers are created, they are washed, dried, and separated. Finally, they are cut and used to make fabric and clothing.
In terms of chemical and physical properties, lyocell is very similar to rayon. It is very soft and strong, regardless of whether it is wet or dry. It’s also really easy to blend with other types of fabric. So now that we know how lyocell is made and the general characteristics, let’s talk about the characteristic that this article is about.
Is Lyocell Stretchy?
Lyocell has some elasticity to it, but it is not the stretchiest fabric that there is. It has about 5% stretch but can be made more stretchy by combining it with other fabrics such as spandex. Since lyocell is often used as a substitute for cotton, it has about the same amount of stretch as cotton does. And despite being similar to rayon, it is more stretchy than rayon and other plant-based fabrics such as linen that tend to have a very little stretch to them at all.
Is Tencel Lyocell Stretchy in Jeans?One of the most popular uses for Tencel lyocell fabric is in jeans. Jeans are normally made from cotton denim, but that same texture can be mimicked by using lyocell instead. In fact, this particular fabric is said to be revolutionizing the jean industry.
This is the case because of the breathability and softness of Tencel lyocell, not necessarily because it is more stretchy than traditional denim. The truth is that using lyocell for jeans adds about the same amount of stretch as cotton.
But the problem with using cotton denim is that it can stretch out of shape with frequent wear. On the other hand, lyocell is meant to return to its original shape after each wear, so using Tencel for jeans can help prevent your jeans from becoming misshapen. This leads to an overall more flattering pair of jeans.
It’s also important to note that lyocell’s ability to return to its original shape isn’t necessary due completely to the amount of stretch that it has. It also has to do with the fact that the fibers are very strong, so they won’t weaken over time. This is another cause of fabrics losing their shape.
Jeans tend to have a small percentage of spandex fibers blended into them. This is what gives the jeans their stretch, not the lyocell fibers. Lyocell is used for jeans due to its strength, softness, and breathability, not because it makes them stretch more.
Does Lyocell Stretch Over Time With Wear?If it is made properly, lyocell shouldn’t stretch over time. One of the reasons that lyocell is such an ideal fabric is its ability to return to its original shape. High-quality lyocell fabric that is properly finished should not stretch out of shape over time. If lyocell is woven properly for some reason or is low-quality, then it could become misshapen with frequent wear.
Lyocell also shouldn’t stretch when you wear it. It will stretch enough to fit your body, but it shouldn’t lose its shape in certain areas or become stretched out. It doesn’t necessarily hug your body in the same way that fabrics made with spandex will, but wearing jeans and pants made from spandex should result in a very flattering fit.
Tops that are made from lyocell tend to have a looser fit and aren’t necessarily skin tight. This is because the fabric just needs to stretch enough to be put on over your head. It doesn’t need to stretch to fit your body better. But as we all know, sometimes the collars of some t-shirts and blouses can stretch out due to pulling it on over your head. That doesn’t tend to be the case with shirts made from lyocell.
Does Lyocell and Cotton Stretch?
You’ll often find that garments made from lyocell tend to have cotton blended in with them. This is not necessarily to make the lyocell or cotton stretch more since both fabrics have the same stretch.
Instead, you’ll find that since lyocell is a much stronger fabric than cotton, it is usually blended with cotton to make the fabric stronger. That means that the fabric won’t necessarily stretch more by adding lyocell to it. It just helps to keep cotton fabrics from becoming stretched out of shape.
The only way to make cotton or lyocell stretch more is to blend them with a fabric that is more elastic, such as spandex. As previously mentioned, this is usually the case with jeans and pants that are made from lyocell.
Can You Stretch Lyocell?
One of the downsides to lyocell is that it is made from plant fibers. That means that, like cotton, it can shrink when it is washed if you don’t use the right temperature settings. If lyocell does shrink, is it possible that you can stretch it back out?
You can try to stretch lyocell if you need to. But the problem is that it will likely return to its pre-stretched shape. Even if it doesn’t, it can shrink more each time you wash it, so you may find yourself having to stretch the fabric back out every time you wear it. If you do want to attempt to stretch out lyocell, I’ll explain how to do this in the next section.
How to Stretch Lyocell
The good news about trying to stretch lyocell is that you can stretch it most effectively by wetting the fabric and using your hands to pull and tug on the fabric in the areas you want to be stretched. Here are the steps you need to follow.
- Fill a sink or washtub with warm water and submerge the fabric in the water to completely soaked. For plant fibers such as lyocell, you can also add a capful of baby shampoo or hair conditioner to the water and make sure that it is mixed well with the water. The combination of warm water and baby shampoo or conditioner will help open up and relax the fibers to make them more receptive to being stretched.
- After soaking the fabric for about 10 minutes, you will want to gently squeeze out any excess water, but don’t rinse the fabric. The shampoo or conditioner needs to remain in the fibers to help keep them open. Then, lay the article of clothing down flat on a dry towel, and roll it up in the towel. Gently press on the towel to squeeze out the last bits of excess water from the fabric.
- Lay the fabric down on a flat surface and begin pulling on the areas you want to be stretched. You can place a book or another heavy object on top of the fabric to keep the parts that you aren’t stretching in place. It may also be helpful to place another article of clothing that fits the way it should underneath the clothing that you’re stretching. That way, you can get an idea of how much to stretch it.
- Let the clothing air dry to help maintain the new, stretched shape. But be aware that the clothing can still shrink in the future. Be sure to wash it using cool or cold water the next time you wash it. When you dry it, use an air-dry cycle in your dryer or hang it up to dry that way.
Lyocell is a great fabric to use in place of cotton due to be stronger and returning to its shape after being stretched. But lyocell isn’t necessarily more stretchy than cotton or even other fabrics, for that matter. The only way to make it more stretchy is to add spandex to clothing made with lyocell. It’s also possible for you to stretch it if necessary, but keep in mind that it may not hold that shape forever due to the characteristics of the fabric. If you enjoyed this article, share it with others and leave a comment. Thanks for reading!