4-way Stretch Fabric: What Is It And How To Use It?

You may have come across the 4-way stretch fabric when looking for textiles for a sewing project. So, what is a four-way stretch fabric, and how can you utilize it in a sewing project? Dugarco will explain its definition and the difference between it and the others in this post.

1. What is a 4-way stretch fabric?

A 4-way stretch fabric is one that stretches in both directions and recovers in both ways. The cloth will return to its original form and size no matter how much you stretch it. Different fabrics have varying degrees of stretch. There is also one-way stretch and two-way stretch fabric. The 1-way stretch cloth will extend in only one direction (from side to side) but will not recover after stretching. 2-way stretch cloth expands in just one direction, often from side to side, but will recover after stretching.

4 way lycra
A definition of 4-way stretch fabric

Although 2-way stretch fabric extends more than 1-way stretch fabric, neither provides much range of movement to the wearer. However, because it extends in all directions and rebounds after being stretched, the 4-way stretch fabric provides the maximum range of movement to the wearer. Four way stretch fabric is ideal for apparel that is made to fit more tightly or for sports use. Many knit fabrics, but not all, offer a 4-way stretch.

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2. How to check if it is a 4-way stretch fabric?

Not all 4 way stretch material is labeled as such, or they are labeled differently. Fortunately, determining if a cloth has a 4-way stretch is simple. It’s simple to identify if a cloth has a 4-way stretch. You only need to take the fabric in your hands. Pull on the opposing sides of the fabric to observe if it extends and then rebounds. Stretch the cloth from top to bottom to observe if it stretches and rebounds in this manner. A 4-way stretch fabric is one that stretches and rebounds in both directions.

4 way lycra fabric
The way to know 4-way stretch fabric by hand

3. 4-way stretch fabric application

4-way stretch fabric is utilized for clothing that needs to move with you or give extra mobility. Leggings, exercises, and sporting gear are some of the most typical applications for 4 way stretch material. These clothing are frequently form-fitting in order to provide less resistance to the user while without impeding mobility.

four way lycra fabric
The applicability of 4-way stretch fabric

Although some individuals use leggings to exercise, they may also be worn beneath dresses, skirts, or pants for added warmth. Because they are more form-fitting than the apparel worn over them, you want them to move with you. As a result, many leggings are composed of 4-way stretch fabric. Some skirts and dresses can also be manufactured using 4-way stretch fabric. The aim is the same whether the apparel is tight or loose-fitting. 4-way stretch dresses and skirts are meant to move with you and are typically more comfortable for the wearer.

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4. What’s the difference between 4-way stretch fabric and the 2-way stretch fabric

Many knit materials feature a 4-way stretch fabric. However, there are certain knit textiles that offer two-way stretch. What is the distinction between 2-way and 4-way stretch fabrics? A 2-way stretch cloth stretches (and heals) only in two directions. It may expand from side to side but not from top to bottom. A 2-way cloth is most commonly stretched from side to side. However, the direction in which a 2-way fabric stretches is determined by the direction in which the fabric is weaved.

4 way stretch spandex fabric
The difference between 4-way stretch fabric and 2-way stretch fabric

4-way stretch textiles, on the other hand, are knit materials that stretch from side to side and from top to bottom. These textiles are knitted in such a manner that they can stretch in all four directions. Clothing composed of 4-way stretch textiles moves with you and returns to its natural form as you move and when you remove it.

5. Examples of 4-way stretch fabric

Here are some samples of four way stretch fabric. This is not an exhaustive list, but rather a selection of the most popular and often-used stretch textiles.

5.1. Polyester Spandex

Polyester textiles are not normally flexible. However, by combining spandex (or Lycra) fibers with polyester fibers, polyester may be transformed into a fabric with a 4-way stretch. Polyester spandex textiles typically include 90-92% polyester and 8-10% spandex fibers, which are responsible for the clothing’s elasticity. Polyester spandex is often very inexpensive and is ideal for the production of leggings and other athletic wear or exercise gear.

4-way stretch fabric
Polyester fibers

5.2. Rayon Spandex

Rayon fabric is normally light, however, rayon spandex is somewhat heavier than standard rayon. Rayon isn’t usually a flexible fabric, but adding spandex to it makes it stretchier. Rayon spandex fabric is typically 95% rayon and 5% spandex. The use of spandex does not reduce the permeability of the rayon; the fabric remains exceedingly breathable. Stretch fabric like this is commonly used for leggings, dresses, and skirts.

four way fabric
Rayon spandex fabric

5.3. 100% Spandex

As previously said, spandex is an elastic material designed to be stretchy. It should come as no surprise that clothes made entirely of spandex have a 4-way stretch. 100% spandex fabric is not something you would wear on a daily basis. This fabric is typically used for swimwear, bike clothes, and other sportswear that has to be snug and stretchy while remaining non-restrictive.

4 way stretch lycra
4 way stretch 100% spandex fabric

5.4. Nylon Spandex

Nylon spandex is a fabric that has a proportion of both nylon and spandex. Nylon and spandex can each account for up to 50% of the fabric. Nylon is often not stretchable on its own, but it is quite durable. Adding spandex to a cloth may make it both sturdy and elastic. Nylon spandex fabric is used to make leotards, swimsuits, dancewear, and costumes, among other things.

4 way stretch lycra fabric
Nylon spandex fabric is quite durable and has little stretch

5.5. Cotton Spandex

Cotton, like polyester, is primarily a woven fabric with very little natural elasticity. It can also be combined with spandex for a 4-way stretch. Cotton spandex textiles are typically made up of 95% cotton and 5% spandex fibers. This fabric can be used for dresses and skirts, however, it is most typically used to stretch soft cotton leggings.

4 way stretch denim fabric
This is a common fabric used to make skirts and leggings

5.6. Stretch Cotton Poplin

Poplin is a woven fabric that is usually composed of cotton. It isn’t generally extremely stretchy, but it may be made flexible by adding an elastic fiber. Stretch cotton poplin textiles are typically composed of 97% cotton and 3% spandex/Lycra. It’s soft and lightweight, making it ideal for sewing dresses and shirts. It should be noted that depending on how the fabric is created, certain stretch cotton poplin may only have a 2-way stretch, so you should test the stretch before purchasing it.

4 way stretch lycra
This fabric is less stretchy and lightweight

5.7. Cotton Jersey Knit

Jersey textiles were traditionally made of wool, but are now largely composed of cotton. Cotton is less expensive and more durable than wool. Cotton jersey knit is soft as well as elastic. It’s a low-maintenance material. Because of the way it is constructed, it does not wrinkle readily. Cotton jersey knit fabric is ideal for creating t-shirts, skirts, and even home textiles such as bed linens.

4 way stretch lace fabric
This fabric is mostly cotton and doesn’t wrinkle

5.8. Stretch Satin

Satin is not often thought of as a flexible fabric, especially when constructed with synthetic fibers such as polyester. Silk satin is relatively elastic, although it does not have a 4-way stretch. It is vital to understand that satin refers to the texture of the fabric rather than a specific fabric type. As a result, satin may apply to any sort of cloth manufactured in a certain fashion. Stretch satin fabric is often constructed of a nylon and spandex blend. It has a gleaming aspect and is ideal for costumes, gowns, and other clothes that require a gleaming and luxurious appearance.

4-way stretch fabric
Satin fabric is a relatively flexible and stretchy fabric

6. Tips to sew 4-way stretch fabric

Stretchy fabrics, in general, can be difficult to sew, especially if you’ve never worked with them before. To sew properly with them, you will need to employ certain equipment and settings. Even if you use the correct procedures, it may take a few attempts to understand how to do it correctly and make your projects seem beautiful. However, here are some pointers to get you started.

6.1. Pre-Wash the Fabric

Washing and drying 4-way stretch fabric is one of the first things you should do before stitching it. Knit textiles, particularly those made of cotton or rayon, might expand after the first wash. You don’t want your completed creation to be smaller than you anticipated if you wait too long to wash it. Even though the fabric is comprised of non-shrinking polyester and spandex, you should still wash it first to eliminate any chemicals that may be on the fabric.

4 way lycra fabric
Note when washing and drying 4-way stretch fabric

6.2. Cut the Fabric

Knit textiles are also more difficult to cut than woven fabrics. You should still fold it in half by bringing the selvages together, but the fold will not always line up straight with the grain of the cloth. Double-check this and, if required, modify the fold to ensure that the grain and edges are straight. Then, set the cloth on top of a cutting mat. Trace any cuts with a tracing wheel before cutting them. When cutting the cloth, make sure not to stretch it.

4 way stretch lycra fabric
Note how to cut the fabric properly

6.3. Ballpoint Needle is required

A ballpoint needle is a type of needle intended specifically for sewing knit textiles, which comprise the majority of stretch fabrics. The tip of a ballpoint needle is rounded. The needle’s rounded tip helps it to slide between the knitted strands without causing harm. If you don’t use a ballpoint needle and instead use a needle with a standard tip, the cloth may be damaged and curl.

4 way stretch denim fabric
It is recommended to use ballpoint needles to limit damage to clothes

6.4. Polyester Thread is needed

When stitching knit and stretchy textiles, use polyester thread instead of cotton since it has more stretch and give than cotton. That is, when the final project’s cloth stretches, the thread will flex slightly instead of breaking. The polyester thread also has a waxy texture, which allows it to glide through the cloth more readily than cotton thread.

4 way stretch cotton fabric
It is recommended to use polyester yarn when sewing knitwear

6.5. Use a Zig Zag Stitch

When stitching elastic cloth, use a zig-zag stitch rather than a straight thread. A zig-zag stitch is stronger than a straight stitch and will not come out when the cloth stretches. The optimum stitch to use is a small zig-zag stitch with a stitch length equal to the stitch width. When stitching, make cautious not to strain the cloth.

4 way lycra fabric
When sewing zig zag, be careful not to stretch the fabric

6.6. The Edges should not Curl

When you stitch stretch materials with a sewing machine, the edges have a propensity to curl. As you sew, keep an eye out for curling edges, which might interfere with your thread. If you discover that the edges are curling, stop stitching and use an iron to press the edges flat. Make careful you use a warm iron setting to avoid damaging the cloth.

4 way lycra
Should be careful when using the iron

Here is about 4-way stretch fabric and how to recognize them. I intend to supply you with a lot of interesting knowledge and experiences. Please contact Dugarco as soon as possible if you have any questions.

Contact information:

  • Address: 59 Đức Giang, Đức Giang, Long Biên, HN
  • Phone: 024 3655 7930
  • Email: dugarco@mayducgiang.com.vn
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