When working with patterns drafted for knit fabrics, and selecting your ::perfect:: fabric pairing, it’s super important to pay attention to the stretch percentage that the designer has recommended.
Following the guidelines of stretch percentage especially comes in handy when sewing items with a large negative ease. Think of things like leggings, swimwear, form fitting dresses, etc. If you sew with a fabric that has less than the recommended stretch percentage, there’s a pretty large chance you’ll be spending a lot of time making something that won’t ever fit.
What exactly is “stretch percentage”?
Fabric stretch percentage is the amount (ahem, percent) that your fabric is able to stretch from it’s original measurement.
For instance, if your pattern calls for a 50% stretch fabric, it simply means that your choice in fabric must stretch at least 50% bigger than it’s original size.
Figuring out the stretch percentage of your fabric is a simple math equation.
( Stretched Width ) ÷ ( Normal Width ) − 1 = Stretch Percentage
Hoping to skip the math? Good news! We’ve got a super easy, downloadable, and FREE Stretch Percentage Guide that you can print and use over and over again. **Plus we’ve made it a perfect “to go” size for you! If you choose to do so, simply cut it out, fold it in half, and stick it in your wallet for easy referencing when you’re even on the move.
How exactly do you use this guide?
We recommend taking a small section of your fabric and folding it in half before testing the stretch. Generally speaking, the fabric tends to give you a higher stretch percentage than it really is, when testing it against only one layer and such a small amount of fabric.
Align the folded section against the right side of the stretch guide.
Hold fabric along left hand side where the guide indicates.
Stretch until you feel resistance. Be careful not to overstretch your fabric.
While you’re here, take note of your fabric recovery. Does the fabric bounce back to it’s original measurement and shape? Or has it now stretched out beyond where it started? Recovery is incredibly important to take into account when you are making more form fitted items. If the recovery is poor, as you wear the garment throughout the day, you may experience some sagging and bagging in places…especially in areas that receive a lot of movement like waistlines, elbows, knees, etc.
Want to see the stretch guide in action? Of course you do! We created a quick video, showing you just how easy it is to test your fabrics using our free guide.