Plain Polyester & Spandex Stretch Neoprene Dress Fabric

How to Stretch Spandex Material

Four Methods:

Clothes made with spandex are made to stretch out and then return to their shape, which is the reason they’re so comfortable. Unfortunately, this means it can be hard to permanently stretch spandex. Luckily, by relaxing the fabric, you may be able to stretch your spandex material yourself!

Quick Summary

If you need to stretch a garment made of spandex, wash it in the hot cycle on your washing machine or soak it in hot water. Put the garment on while it's still wet and leave it on until it has dried completely. While you're wearing the garment, move as much as you can so the garment will stretch. To get the most stretch, try a variety of different movements, such as squats, jumping jacks, and jogging in place. After you have stretched the garment, wash it in cold water and avoid putting it into the dryer to keep it from shrinking back to its original size.

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Wearing Spandex to Stretch It

  1. Soak your garment in 120–140 °F (49–60 °C) degree water for 30 minutes.If you want to stretch a garment made of spandex, washing it in hot water can help relax the fibers. Most hot water heaters are set to a maximum temperature of 120–140 °F (49–60 °C), so you can either wash the garment in your washing machine on the hottest setting, or you can fill up your sink with the hottest tap water and soak the garment there.
  2. Put the garment on while it’s still wet.This may seem uncomfortable at first, but you should be able to work the garment on a little at a time, even if it’s a little clingy or tight. The heat and moisture should help the spandex form to your body as you wear it.
    • This method is best if you only need the material to stretch a little. If you can't wear the garment, try stretching it with weights.
  3. Stay active for about an hour or until the garment dries.You’ll need to let the garment air-dry on your body to allow the fabric to stretch around you. Moving around as much as possible will force the material to stretch even more.
    • Try to come up with a variety of different movements so the fabric will stretch in different directions. For example, you could bend at the waist, jog in place, and try exercises like squats or jumping jacks.
    • The length of time it will take your garment to dry will vary depending on the thickness of the fabric. A very thin spandex shirt may take only 20-30 minutes to dry, while a thicker pair of yoga pants might take more than an hour.

Using Weights to Stretch Spandex

  1. Soak your material in 120–140 °F (49–60 °C) degree water.You can either run your fabric through the hot cycle on your washing machine or you can heat water in a pot on your stovetop and then soak the material. Either method will help relax the spandex fibers and help it stretch more easily.
    • Most water heaters are set to heat water within this range, so you should be able to use hot water from your tap.
  2. Place the material on a flat surface while it’s still hot.An ironing board is a good surface for this project, but you could also use your kitchen counter, the floor, or a table with a surface that won’t be damaged by water.
    • If you’re not sure if it’s okay to place a wet object on a table, try placing a drop of water on an inconspicuous area of the table. If the wet spot turns white, you shouldn’t use that surface for stretching your spandex or it will leave water stains.
  3. Secure one side of the garment with a 3–5 lb (1.4–2.3 kg) weight.You can use almost anything to weight down your material; just make sure it’s heavy enough to hold the fabric when you stretch it. Items that weight about 3–5 lb (1.4–2.3 kg) should be sufficiently heavy enough to secure the garment just by placing it on one end of the fabric.
    • Try using free weights, a stack of textbooks, or even the leg of your bed to secure your fabric.
    • Be sure that your weight is made of a material that can get wet without being damaged or transferring color to your garment. For instance, you may want to avoid anything made from painted wood.
  4. Stretch your fabric out and secure the other end with another weight.Pull the free end of the material as tight as you can without tearing the fabric, then secure that end with another heavy weight. The constant tension should help permanently stretch out the elastic in the spandex.
    • Since spandex is made to return to its original shape, try to stretch it beyond what you think you’ll need.
  5. Allow the fabric to dry for at least an hour while it’s stretched out.If you remove the material while it’s still wet, the fibers will shorten as they dry. This will cause the material to return to its original shape, so make sure it dries completely while it’s being stretched.
    • It will probably take about an hour for your garment to dry completely, although thicker material may take longer. For the best results, allow it to sit for at least an extra hour after the material has completely dried.
    • Repeat the process if your garment needs more stretch.

Soaking Spandex in Baby Shampoo

  1. Fill a basin with water of about 85–90 °F (29–32 °C).You can use a basin, sink, or bathtub. The water should be a little warmer than room temperature. You’ll need at least 1 quart (0.95 L) of water.
  2. Add baby shampoo or mild conditioner to the water.You’ll need to add roughly 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of baby shampoo for every 1 quart (0.95 L) of water.
    • The water should take on a slick, soapy consistency once the shampoo is stirred into the water.
    • Baby shampoo helps relax the fibers in your material, making them easier to stretch.
  3. Soak the fabric in the soapy water for about 30 minutes.Make sure the material is fully immersed in the water and give it at least half an hour to ensure the soap has time to penetrate the spandex material.
  4. Squeeze the fabric tightly to wring out excess moisture.Use a twisting and squeezing motion until the fabric stops dripping. Don’t rinse the garment, because the soap will keep relaxing the elastic fibers as you stretch the fabric.
    • If you still need to remove more moisture, roll the material between 2 towels and leave it for about 10 minutes.
  5. Stretch out the fabric and hold it in place with 3–5 lb (1.4–2.3 kg) weights.The baby shampoo should allow you to easily stretch the spandex past its normal limits. Once you have it stretched as much as you can, place heavy objects like books, paperweights, or free weights on the edges of the fabric to hold it in place.
    • Make sure your heavy objects won’t be damaged by the moisture from the fabric. You should also avoid using anything painted or varnished, like wood, since this can transfer stains onto your material.
  6. Allow the fabric to sit for an hour or until it is completely dry.If you take off the weights before the spandex material has dried, the fibers will begin to shorten and the fabric will return to its original shape.
    • It will probably take about an hour for the fabric to dry completely.

Caring for Spandex after Stretching It

  1. Avoid exposing your garment to heat.Heat can cause the fibers of your spandex garment to retract back to their original size. High temperatures can also break down the elastane fibers in spandex, causing the garment to break down.
  2. Wash your garment in 75–80 °F (24–27 °C) water whenever it gets dirty.After you have stretched it, use the cool setting whenever you wash your garment in the washing machine.
    • If you would rather hand-wash your garment, fill your sink with room temperature water, then stir in about 1 teaspoon (4.9 mL) of a mild detergent. Use your hands to swirl the garment in the soapy water for 2-3 minutes or until it seems clean. Empty the sink, then rinse your garment in cool water.
  3. Air-dry your garment for 2-3 hours after you wash it.It's best to allow your garment to air dry after every wash to help protect the spandex fibers. To air dry it, lay it on a flat surface, hang it from a clothes hanger, or pin it to a clothes line with clothespins.

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