Sewing & Pattern making Terms

Stretch percentage

As a skilled seamstress, you understand the importance of working with different types of fabrics. When it comes to stretch fabrics, such as knits and spandex blends, it’s crucial to consider their stretch percentage. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the concept of stretch percentage, its significance in garment construction and how to harness its potential in your sewing projects.

What is Stretch Percentage?

Stretch percentage refers to the amount of stretch a fabric can accommodate and still retain its original shape and structure. It is expressed as a percentage and indicates how much a fabric can be stretched beyond its resting state.

The Significance of Stretch Percentage in Garment Construction

  1. Fit and Comfort:

Understanding the stretch percentage of a fabric is essential for achieving a proper fit in garments made from stretch fabrics. It ensures that the garment can comfortably stretch and recover to accommodate body movements.

  1. Pattern Adaptation:

Knowledge of the fabric’s stretch percentage helps in adjusting and modifying patterns to suit the fabric’s stretch characteristics. It allows you to make accurate pattern adjustments, such as adding ease or incorporating negative ease for a body-hugging fit.

Determining the Stretch Percentage

  1. Measuring Fabric Stretch:
  • To determine the stretch percentage of a fabric, start by measuring its resting state (unstretched) and its maximum stretch.
  • Divide the difference between the two measurements by the resting state measurement and multiply by 100 to obtain the stretch percentage.
  1. Understanding Different Stretch Categories:
  • Fabrics are categorized based on their stretch percentage:
    • Low Stretch: 0% to 20%
    • Moderate Stretch: 20% to 50%
    • High Stretch: 50% to 100%
    • Super Stretch: Above 100%

Working with Different Stretch Percentages

  1. Pattern Selection:
  • Choose patterns designed specifically for the stretch percentage of your fabric.
  • Patterns labeled as suitable for knits or stretch fabrics are designed with the necessary ease and shaping.
  1. Fabric Manipulation:
  • Adjust the fabric handling techniques based on the stretch percentage.
  • Use appropriate stabilizers, such as stay tapes or clear elastic, to prevent excessive stretching during sewing.
  1. Seam Construction:
  • Select appropriate seam finishes and stitching techniques that accommodate the fabric’s stretch.
  • Utilize stretch stitches, such as zigzag stitches or a lightning bolt stitch, for flexible and durable seams.


Understanding stretch percentage empowers you to work confidently with stretch fabrics, ensuring comfortable and well-fitting garments. By considering the stretch characteristics of your fabric and making appropriate pattern adjustments, you can create beautifully tailored pieces that move with the body. Remember, each fabric has its own stretch percentage and by embracing its unique qualities, you’ll unlock endless possibilities for creating fashionable and functional garments. So, dive into the world of stretch fabrics with a keen eye on stretch percentage and let your sewing projects reach new levels of comfort and style.

Got Questions?

Melissa Villegas
Pattern Maker &


Melissa Portrait

Villegas Patterns

Recent Patterns

Need A Tutorial?

For detailed and in-depth instructions, watch my pattern tutorials on YouTube