Polyamide is one of those fabrics that is known for being very durable and long-lasting. Nylon is the most well-known polyamide, but there are others as well under different names. Before buying polyamide or using it for your sewing project, it’s a good idea to know some of its characteristics. In this guide, we’ll explore whether or not polyamide is stretchy.
Some polyamide fabric is stretchy while others are not. It all depends on how the fabric is made and the quality of it. Nylon is known for being a stretchy polyamide fabric, while others such as Kevlar and Nomex aren’t as stretchy.
To learn about the stretchiness of polyamide fabric, we should first learn what it is. We’ll also learn more about the differences between polyamide fabrics and why some are stretchy and others aren’t. Lastly, we’ll discuss how to stretch polyamide fabric if you need to.
What is Polyamide Fabric?
Polyamide is a synthetic fabric, meaning it is man-made and doesn’t come from a plant or animal source. But the term polyamide doesn’t just refer to one type of fabric. Rather, it is a group of fabrics made up of polyamide monomers, which is the “building block” of the fabric.
How is Polyamide Fabric Made?
The process for making polyamide and other synthetic fabrics can be complicated, but I’ll try to simplify it as much as possible. First of all, it’s important to know that all synthetic fabrics are derived from crude oil.
Once crude oil is collected, a monomer called diamine acid is extracted from it. This acid undergoes a chemical reaction with another type of acid into a solid form known as nylon salt, which is then melted to form a liquid.
The liquid is forced through a machine to form fibers which are loaded onto a bobbin. They are stretched to make them longer and stronger loaded onto a spool to be spun into fabric. The polyamide fibers may or may not be blended with other fibers to make clothing.
Types of Polyamide Fabric
The most famous and widely used polyamide fabric is something I’m sure you’ve heard of: nylon. Nylon was invented in the 1930s by the DuPont Corporation and is the main polyamide fabric used for clothing.
The reason for nylon gaining popularity for clothing use is due to World War II. One of the original uses for nylon was to make parachutes. But after the war, there was a fabric shortage, so many people started making clothing out of recycled parachutes.
You may be wondering what this has to do with nylon being stretchy. Well, since nylon wasn’t a very breathable fabric, it was soon discovered that one of the only benefits to using nylon for clothing was the texture and the fact that it had some stretch to it. So instead of making clothing out of 100% nylon, clothing manufacturers started blending it with fabrics that aren’t as stretchy, such as polyester, to give them more elasticity.
Nylon fabric is used as an alternative to silk due to being cheaper and having a similar texture and elasticity. It is also used for t-shirts and stretch pants, usually blended with other fibers.
Kevlar and Nomex
Kevlar and Nomex are polyamides known as aramids. These two polyamides aren’t typically used for clothing, but they have other practical uses due to their durability and rigidity.
Kevlar is used mostly for bulletproof vests, while Nomex is used for firefighting suits since it is flame retardant. These two types of fabric are very different from nylon and are not stretchy, which is why they aren’t ideal for clothing.
Is Polyamide Stretchy?
Whether or not polyamide fabric stretches depends on the type of fabric and how it was made. Knitted polyamide fabrics like nylon will stretch because the fibers are woven together differently than Kevlar and other types of polyamide.
As long as the fabric you are buying is made primarily of nylon, then you are pretty much guaranteed that it will stretch. But other types of polyamide fabric may not stretch as much, so it is important that you know what it is you are buying.
But exactly how much stretch does nylon have? Most nylon fabric can stretch anywhere from 15 to 30% of its original size before the fibers start to break. For comparison, the stretch percent of cotton is about 3 to 4%, while polyester ranges from about 12 to 15%.
As you can see, nylon has more stretch than two other commonly used fabrics, which is why it is often blended with cotton or polyester to give clothing made out of those materials more stretch. However, nylon does not stretch more than stretch fabrics like spandex, stretching to over 100% of their original size.
Does Polyamide Stretch Over Time?
Again, the answer to this question is that it depends on the type of polyamide fabric and how it is made. Nylon is a durable fabric that will usually stretch back to its original shape as long as you care for it properly. However, if the fibers become damaged for some reason, it is possible that the fibers can become misshapen over time.
Other types of polyamide fabric can also lose their shape over time. It is also possible that wearing the fabric a lot can cause it to stretch out, but usually, this is a good thing because it makes the clothing more comfortable. The more you wear a particular garment made of nylon or another stretchy fabric, the more like the fabric conforms to your shape.
Can You Stretch Polyamide?
Some polyamide fabrics can be stretched more than others. Sometimes you don’t want it to stretch, like would be the case with bulletproof vests made of Kevlar. Kevlar is designed to be rigid to increase the protection that it offers to the wearer.
But if you are using polyamide fabrics to wear or make clothing out of, you probably do want it to stretch some. In that case, your best fabric choice is nylon. If your clothing doesn’t fit quite right and you need to stretch it out, you can stretch nylon yourself at home.
How To Stretch Polyamide
If you want to stretch polyamide fabric, you won’t have much luck with any of it except for nylon. Nylon is stretchy and should return to its original shape, but sometimes you may want it to fit slightly more loosely or comfortably. To do this, you will need to relax the fibers first. Here are the best methods for how to stretch nylon polyamide fabric.
The best way to ensure that nylon conforms to the size and shape you want is to stretch it by wearing it. To do this, you will need to wear it while it is wet. It may be uncomfortable, but the fibers won’t stretch very well when they are dry. These are the steps you will need to follow.
- Soak the nylon clothing that you want to stretch in hot water for about 30 minutes. The water should ideally be at a temperature of 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (50 to 60 degrees Celsius). Alternatively, you can wash the fabric in the washing machine using the hot water setting.
- After soaking the clothing, you will need to put it on while it is still wet. It will likely feel tight at first but should stretch out as you wear it as the fabric dries.
- Move around as you wear the fabric while it dries. If the fabric that you need stretch is designed to be activewear, do your normal exercise routine as you wear it. Or you can simply do some chores around the house as you wear it. The continued movement will ensure that the fabric stretches in all the right places.
- Once the fabric is dry, it should fit a lot more comfortably and continue to fit comfortably the next time you wear it.
Use Baby Shampoo
Water will relax the fibers of your nylon fabric, but adding baby shampoo to the water can help relax them even more. To learn how to stretch your nylon fabric this way, follow these steps.
- Fill a sink or wash basin with warm water with a temperature of about 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (29 to 32 degrees Celsius).
- Add about 15 mL of baby shampoo to the water and stir it around so that it is evenly dispersed.
- Place the nylon fabric in the water so that it is completely submerged and let it soak for about 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, gently squeeze the fabric to remove excess water, but don’t rinse the fabric out. The soap needs to stay in the fibers so that the fabric can be more easily stretched.
- Lay the fabric out on a flat surface and stretch it out in all directions.
- After stretching one area of the fabric, place a heavy object onto the fabric to hold it in place.
- Repeat step 6 with the other areas, using a weight to hold each area that you stretch into place.
- The weights should stay on the fabric until it is completely dry to ensure that it doesn’t go back to its original shape.
Another way to do this is to weigh down one side of the fabric and pull on the other side until you’ve reached the desired amount of stretch. Next, put the weight on the side you just stretched and pull on the other side until it is stretched. Then, leave the weights in place until the fabric dries completely.
How To Care For Nylon After Stretching
One of the qualities of nylon is that it tends to return to its original shape after being stretched. That means that after stretching it yourself, it is important to care for it properly to prevent this from happening.
Heat will cause the fibers to shrink back to their original size. Taking the right precautions when washing and drying nylon will help ensure that it remains stretched out. After stretching, you should only wash the fabric using cool water and a small amount of mild detergent.
Once the fabric has been washed, it should not be put into the dryer. It is pretty much a guarantee that doing so will return the fabric to its original size. Instead, you will need to hang the clothing up to let the fabric air dry, which may take a couple of hours.
Even if you take the precautions mentioned above, there is always a chance that the fabric returns to its original size. If that happens, you may have to repeat one of the methods above to stretch it out again.
I hope this guide gave you the information you needed about the stretchiness of polyamide fabrics. Remember that there are different types of polyamide fabric, but in terms of stretch, nylon is the best choice for sewing with and wearing. It returns to its original shape after being worn, but you can also stretch it out a little more yourself if need be. If you enjoyed this article, share it with others and leave a comment. Thanks for reading!