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Figuring Out Knit Stretch

Today I want to do a quick guide on how to figure out the percentage of your knits stretch and understanding both stretch and recovery!


Often you will see a 95/5 blend or something similar. This usually means 5% of your blend is lycra which helps with recovery and gives a more snug feel to your fabric. You can also find blends with spandex, hemp, rayon, etc. Each of these blends will affect the amount of stretch and recovery your fabric has.

Means you fabrics ability to return to its original size once stretched. Garments with great recovery can be used for more fitted garments and those with less are great for a more loose and draped look. For example if a knit with less recovery is used for a leggings it will cause it to have baggy knees and a saggy bottom.

Key Notes

When making something there are a few key things to remember.

1. Lycra or spandex in your blend helps with giving a snug fit and helps with the recovery of your fabric.

2. 2 way stretch means your fabric will stretch from selvage to selvage. 4 way stretch means its stretches both selvage to selvage and parallel to the selvage but the greatest amount of stretch is usually selvage to selvage.


3. always measure your stretch and recovery before starting a project to make sure it fits within the recommended allowance.

Measuring Stretch

I like to start with a 10″ piece of fabric that is cut selvage to selvage but if its more or less thats fine too.


First measure your fabric un-stretched and write down the width. This will be (A).


Then hold your fabric edge at the beginning of your ruler and pull your fabric taut and write down the number it stretches to. This will be (B).


Then watch your fabric when you let go of it and see if it recovers well or stays loose and stretched. If it recovers back to the original width or close to it the recovery is high. If it stays stretched and loose its recovery is low.



B – A = C
C/A = D
D*100 = % of stretch



The example above with red triangles the original size (A) is 8.5″. The width that it stretched to (B) is 13″.

13 – 8.5 = 4.5
C= 4.5
Now we divide C/A
4.5 / 8.5 = 0.53 (Round to two decimal places.)
D = 0.53

So now to find the percent with multiply D*100.
0.53 * 100 = 53
So the % of stretch is 53%

Thank you for taking the time to read this guide, I hope you find it helpful in understanding knit stretch just a little bit better! 🙂


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