Does Polyester Stretch?

Is it stretchy, and if yes, then how much?

Written by Camilla Moln. Updated on Is it stretchy, and if yes, then how much

Synthetic fabrics invaded the market not so long ago, but they already won the place in people’s hearts. Durable, long-lasting, and handy, these materials are really miraculous.

Polyester is one of them. We can find hundreds of various items made of it, but often consumers become curious whether this fiber is able to stretch. 

Is polyester stretchy?

Yes, the polyester is stretchy. Polyester is stretchy by its nature, it is very elastic and soft, and it does not lose its original size and shape. Even 100% polyester does not stretch out. Polyester dries quickly, “breathes,” and it is convenient to play sports in these clothes.

does polyester stretch

Density of polyester

Den is an indicator of the linear density of threads in a fabric, the ratio between weight and length. 1d is 1 gram of thread per 9 kilometers.
The higher the numerical indicator, the greater the density.

  • 300d – is a fairly dense fabric that is widely used in sports and tourist equipment, clothing and accessories, threads, yarns.
  • 500d –  is a dense material from which equipment for various sports is made. It is also used for truck tarpaulins, tents, backpacks and bags.
  • 600d –  resistance to an external aggressive environment. Low electrical conductivity, good water repellency. The scope of application of the fabric is the same, but the products are obtained one class higher.
  • 900d – this density of the fabric does not allow not only water to pass through but also ultraviolet rays. High-quality equipment is suitable for extreme conditions. By combining polyester with nylon, incredible strength and elasticity are achieved.
density of polyester

How stretchy is polyester?

Polyester is a very stretchy fabric and perfectly retains shape. It depends on its density how stretchy it is. An ordinary 300d polyester like we use for clothing stretches really great. It does not wrinkle, and you can use it for quite a long time.

How different types of polyester stretch?

  • Cotton Polyester fabric: Moderate stretch factor
  • Microfiber Polyester fabric: Low stretch factor
  • 100% Polyester fabric: High stretch factor
  • Woven Polyester Fabric: Low stretch factor
  • Blended: With Rayon or Spandex – Moderate stretch factor
  • Knitted Polyester Fabric: Moderate stretch factor
  • Blended: With Rayon or Spandex – High stretch factor
  • Waterproof Polyester Fabric: Low stretch factor

Jordan polyester 

This fabric with the addition of polyurethane stretches well. Has a smooth iridescent surface of high wear resistance. It is waterproof and windproof.

Dispo polyester

Dense polyurethane-impregnated fabric stretches worse than Jordan, but it does. Capable of repelling water and dirt protects from wind.

Prince polyester

Is a matte silky fabric with waterproof treatment and windproof properties with excellent stretch properties.

Bonding polyester

Is a dense, breathable fabric that protects against the cold. It gives comfort and warmth in winter, often children’s outerwear is sewn from it. Stretch well and great for toddlers.

Trilobal polyester

Has a beautiful mother-of-pearl shine, and therefore clothes are made from it mainly for children and women. Stretch worse than bonding.

File polyester

Is a rather dense material with a good aesthetic appearance. The fabric is waterproof and windproof, dries quickly, holds its shape, but does not stretch well than bonding and Jordan and its look.

Taffeta polyester

Shows resistance to moisture and chemicals. The material is in demand in the production of equipment for tourists and rescuers. Low stretch factor

Memory polyester 

The fabric remembers the previous impact on it – creasing or smoothing. Low stretch factor

how different type of polyester stretch

What is the polyester fabric?

Polyester – one of the most widespread and modern materials that are used to create synthetic fabrics.

This material began to be actively used in the light industry only in the early 60s of the 20th century. In addition to sewing clothes, it is also often used to produce packaging, prefabricated structures, etc.
The production path is very complex and has many stages. During the manufacturing process, a variety of natural fibers of cotton, wool, or viscose can be added to it.

polyester in light industry

History of appearance

Basic research on polyesters’ field dates back to the 1930s, with the first publications appearing in 1946.

Despite this, it began to be used in production only in the 60s in various packaging products. These included molding materials, fabrics for packaging bags and containers, adhesive tape.

After polyester’s appearance in the United States, it was shown to the public as a miracle product made by W.K. Birtwhistle and C.G. Ritchie

They said that it was possible to sew unique clothes from it, which were perfectly worn for two months without washing and ironing, and at the same time retained an excellent appearance.

How This Material Produced?

To answer the main question, we need to refresh the way this material appears.

Polyester (PE) the most common synthetic fabric.
You can often see such a combination of letters “polyester” on the many types of clothes on the underwear.
But not only fabrics but also plastic containers, badges, and bags are made with this chemical combination.

Such a variety of uses is because, at temperatures above 40 degrees, polyester does not shrink and save its shape.

In the production of clothes, this quality is also a plus since all the folds, clamps, and the clothes’ original shape will remain unchanged even with numerous washes.

A multilevel chemical reaction of monomers produces polyester.

It is made from compounds found in petroleum.

These include ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid.

The creation of such a chemical industry product began in the distant 30s of the last century in Great Britain.
But the patent was received only in 1945.

Polyester is available in 3 states

  1. film
  2. fiber
  3. plastic

It was initially used in the production of containers. At the moment, it captured all areas of the textile industry.

How does polyester feel like?

Polyester products feel like different fabrics.

It can be cotton, wool, and even silk.

By the way, 100% polyester (polyester, PE) is called “decorative silk“.

What kind of fabric it turns out depends on the production method and additional fibers‘ presence in the material.

Since polyester is a man-made thing, it is synthetic. The fiber is produced by causing a reaction between air, water, petroleum, and coal. 

By the way, another well-known artificial textile, elastane is produced with the use of polyester-made components and the way of manufacturing is pretty similar to both the fibers. The only distinction is the stretchiness of elastane compared to its counterpart.

In a hot vacuum surrounding, the initial material is kept for a long time and then threads are formed. Those are spun creating the final durable material.

Because of the high popularity, polyester has become quite cheap material to buy which makes it one of the most affordable fabrics in the world.

The main characteristic of polyester

100% polyester can be a thin translucent veil or strong raincoat fabric.

The appearance and properties of a polyester fiber depend on the raw material’s chemical composition, the fiber shape, and the type of weave. Usually, polyester looks and feels like wool, and its properties are very similar to cotton.

The main characteristics may vary depending on the method of production and processing of the fabric.

But the main properties of polyester are always the same:

  • It is similar to cotton.
  • The fabric is durable and lightweight
  • It perfectly retains its shape (even when heated)
  • Wrinkles, but not as much as natural materials
  • Not sensitive to sunlight and microorganisms
  • It is easy to care for and washable
  • Dries very quickly
  • Low-cost price
  • It is pleasant to the body and has a beautiful appearance
  • Flexible to processing
  • Has an antistatic effect
main properties of polyester

Main disadvantages of the polyester

One of the disadvantages is that it is poorly breathable and therefore not very comfortable to wear at high temperatures.

It can also lose its shape with strong heating, so never dry it at the drying machine.

The high quality of polyester made it possible to use it to create reliable travel and military equipment.

Cons and Weaknesses:

  • High density
  • Good to know that the pure polyester fabric makes it uncomfortable to wear when it is hot outside
  • Inability to use chemical bleaches. Polyester fiber can break
  • Static electricity
  • Synthetics accumulate static electricity, which can cause dust particles to stick to clothes. These disadvantages can be easily eliminated by using an antistatic agent or special fabric softener. Many manufacturers add antistatic fibers to the yarn
  • Some rigidity of the material. Sometimes elastane or cotton is added to the polyester to make it softer
  • If technology was violated, polyester fiber could cause allergies. When buying clothes, remember that too cheap polyester can be harmful to your health
  • The fiber is difficult to dye

What Are Its Properties?

Does Polyester stretch

The process of manufacturing gives this artificial material certain specific features that we often don’t even guess about. 

  • The fibers of this material are hollow which allows them to keep the warmth of the human body. Thanks to this feature, polyester is a welcomed guest in a wardrobe of any sports lover and those who enjoy long walks on the cold days since this fabric keeps you warm.
  • It’s water-resistant which means that sweat won’t be absorbed by the apparel. A perfect choice for physical activities.
  • It adds strength and tear-resistance to other fabrics, that’s why polyester is often mixed with other materials.
Plain Polyester, Viscose & Spandex Stretch Suiting Dress FabricPlain Polyester, Viscose & Spandex Stretch Suiting Dress Fabric

Since polyester easily restores the initial shape, shrinking it can be quite a challenge, but if you need to make such apparel smaller, a couple of ways exist how we can shrink polyester. In particular, exposing it to heat (both when laundering or drying) can have the desired result.

The only bad thing about this fiber is that it easily ignites and melts if exposed to heat or fire, so be careful.

Does Polyester Stretch?

What are polyesters properties

What about stretching? It’s an important moment since our clothing has to sit properly letting us move freely.

The good news is that polyester stretches a bit naturally. The manufacturers took care of this feature and made the material that would be comfy for the wearer.

No matter how actively it is stretched while being worn, the material will return to its initial shape and size once you take it off. That’s the good thing since there is no need to worry that one day your training suit or leggings will become two sizes bigger.

Of course, it is important to consider that, if the apparel is made of blended material that is part polyester and part natural, its stretchiness can be reduced.

In terms of this, people often get concerned about using pure polyester and shift to natural materials like cotton. Which one is better, cotton vs polyester? Well, both have specific features that fit different needs of wearers, but basically, cotton is more preferable since it’s safe on skin and often even more affordable than artificial textiles.

Polyester Bi Stretch Suiting Dress FabricPolyester Bi Stretch Suiting Dress Fabric

Another issue that often bothers people is that nylon vs polyester thing. In particular, which one is better. Both are synthetics, but certain distinctions do exist. For instance, even though nylon is stronger, its counterpart is more fast-drying, lint-resistant, and absorbs colors easier. 

But even though this material is long-lasting and heat-sustainable, avoid exposing it to the high temperatures to protect from extreme shrinkage.

Polyester Fabrics Care 8 tips

There are no special requirements for the care of polyester, but in order to preserve the original characteristics of the product, simple rules must be followed when washing and ironing it:

  1. Check the label first
  2. This is really important for clothes with special properties f.e heat and moisture protection
  3. When choosing a washing mode, it is important to remember how many degrees polyester clothes can withstand. Typically, polyester can be washed at 104 F and below. Hotter water will deform the fiber, and the thing will lose its shape
  4. It is best to choose a mode for washing synthetics or delicate.
    The fabric cannot be bleached. Clothes with tough stains can be dry-cleaned
  5. Hand wash is advisable for particularly delicate fabrics
  6. It is better to wash things, turning them inside out so as not to damage the front side
  7. Certain types of polyester, such as knitwear, must not be twisted too much after washing
  8. To prevent the fabric from wrinkling, you need to hang the product on a hanger after washing and straighten it well

Mixed fabrics with polyester

Polyester and Polyamide

As a result of these fibers’ combination, we get very elastic, wear-resistant fabrics that do not lose color during use.

They are used to sew lingerie with silk’s softness and nobility with real synthetics’ elasticity and durability.

If it is diluted with polyamide, polyester loses some of its heat resistance and does not absorb moisture.

Polyester and Spandex

As a result of these fibers’ combination, we get strong and very elastic material.

It is usually used for compression underwear, durable sportswear, tight-fitting jerseys, gloves.

Thanks to the spandex fibers, the material becomes less dense and more breathable, and it stretches well. However, the combination is not as resistant to fading as pure polyester; snow-white fabrics can turn yellow in the sun.

Polyester and Cotton

Cotton is a classic example of hygroscopicity, hygiene, naturalness, and simplicity.

Combining it with polyester in a ratio of 65% and 35%, the fabric becomes great and unchangeable for underwear.

Jerseys made of cotton with polyester do not fade, do not stretch, they can be worn, and can be used longer.

How to iron polyester if the clothes are crumpled?

This can be done, but at a minimum temperature from the seamy side through a thin cotton fabric or gauze.
Some polyester materials cannot be ironed.

Related: How to Iron Polyester?

The material, which is 100% polyester, is quite cheap in cost, so it is loved by people who are just beginning to comprehend the basics of sewing if you are one of them, polyester is a good start.

How to hand wash polyester?

If you want to hand wash your new polyester blouse, first dissolve the detergent in water at room temperature (no higher than 104 degrees).

How to wash a polyester Dress?

To clean your polyester dress, you have to soak it in cool, warm water with 3 tablespoons of white vinegar. Then, wash your dress in the washing machine on a standard or cold washing regime. You can choose a delicate spin cycle to prevent stretching the fabric.

A polyester dress can be washed not only by hand but also in a washing machine. At the same time, the temperature regime of water can be different, but in most cases, it is + 104°F, although there are still exceptions to the rules – fabrics made of polyester fibers that can be washed at a temperature of + 140°F.

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Frequently Asked Questions

⭐ What's so bad about polyester?

This material can cause skin irritation since chemicals are used for producing it.

⭐ What are the disadvantages of polyester?

It tends to shrink if exposed to high temperature e.g. when laundering or drying it.

⭐ Is polyester elastic?

Yes, it returns to the initial shape fast.

⭐ Is polyester the same as spandex?

No, they are different. Spandex is more stretchable.

⭐ Does 95 polyester and 5 spandex stretch?

Such a blend will only have a reasonable amount of stretch enough to make the item comfy to wear.

⭐ Do polyester suits look cheap?

Probably yes, in a way, due to the “plastic” look of the material.

⭐ Does polyester fit tight?

Yes, it fits quite tight, but it allows to move freely.

Written by
Camilla is an experienced Consultant with more than 20 years of preparing professional articles for numerous online resources. She has done a tremendous job and has learned a lot during her career. Camilla will advise you on the latest trends and give amazing tips on how to decorate a house.
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