Determining stretch percentage

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Stretch percentage was something that always perplexed me. Many people simply explain it as ‘the amount fabric or elastic stretches’. The reason this was confusing because I was unsure exactly how much to stretch in order to take the measurement. Luckily for me, I found my answer at the GBSB 2021.

Stretch percentage resources online

There are so many “answers” to the question I had about this problem. Some people just said to ‘stretch to the maximum capacity and measure that’ (wrong!). Most people just said to ‘stretch’ (not helpful!). I was getting to a point where I would have a fabric or elastic, and be confused if it was 20% or 60% stretch because I wasn’t sure where to stretch it to.

How to find stretch percentage

However, many of the resources did give the general idea on how stretch percentage is found. Basically, measure the fabric/elastic to 5″ or whatever distance you want to use. ‘Stretch’ (explained below), and measure to where it stretches to. Take the additional length stretched divided by the original measurement to determine stretch percentage.

Here are a few more explanations on how the process is done:

The question answered

During a few separate videos in the GBSB 2021 conference, I was given the explanation I was looking for on this topic. The fabric/elastic needs to be stretched to where it naturally wants to rebound. This is distinguished by the terms ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ stretch. ‘Hard’ stretch (the incorrect way) is where the elastic/fabric is stretched to the max, whereas ‘soft’ stretch (the correct way) is where the fabric/elastic is comfortable and not restricting, but effective and taught enough.

The importance of accurate stretch percentage

The reason stretch percentage is important is because it affects the fit. If the stretch percentage is too high for a particular pattern, the garment/elastic will be loose. Alternatively, if the stretch percentage is too low, the garment/elastic will be too tight. Aligning the stretch percentage is important, otherwise the pattern may need to be adjusted.

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