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Does Lyocell Stretch?

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For those of you that don’t know, lyocell is a type of rayon fabric typically used to produce blouses and jeans.

Like any fabric, when purchasing clothing or using it to make our pieces, we need to understand its characteristics. One of the things we need to know is whether or not the fabric stretches.

We need to know why the fabric might stretch, how it stretches, and what effect it will have on our clothes.

If we don’t know this in advance of buying our clothes we could be left disappointed when our brand-new pair of jeans no longer fits us. 

close up of a black tencel fabric

Today, in this post we will look at what lyocell is and whether lyocell stretches or not, and how you can stretch it yourself if your clothing has shrunk. 

If you’re looking at buying a new pair of lyocell jeans or a blouse and want to know what to expect, be sure to stick around!

In a Rush? Here’s the Quick Answer!

If you’re in a rush and don’t have the time to read through the whole of our post, here is the simple answer you came here looking for. 

Lyocell isn’t one of the stretchiest fabrics around, but it does usually have a bit of stretch to it.

Made from wood cellulose, we can expect lyocell pieces of clothing to stretch similarly to most plant-based fabrics like cotton.

When lyocell is blended with other fabrics, it becomes more stretchy, potentially stretching more and more every time it is worn. However, generally, your lyocell fabrics shouldn’t stretch very much at all.

As lyocell is a plant-based fabric like cotton, it will actually shrink a lot more than it stretches. As a result of this, you may need to stretch the fabric yourself.

This can be done by soaking the fabric in a tub or basin before pulling the fabric into how it needs to be stretched. 

What Exactly Is Lyocell?

Lyocell, more commonly known by the name Tencel, is a plant-based fabric typically used as a substitute for silk and cotton.

First created by American Enka in the 1970s, this fabric was first abandoned before it then had a resurgence in popularity thanks to a British company in the 1980s. 

It is a semi-synthetic fabric manufactured using wood cellulose. The wood is first broken down into smaller chips before being placed into a chemical bath and turned into a pulp. 

The pulp is then washed, bleached, and rolled into sheets which are then broken down with the wood cellulose dissolving. When the remaining fibers are washed and dried, they are cut into the fabric we use to make clothes. 

The clothing, which is very much like rayon clothing, is soft, strong, and durable, making it easy to blend with other fabrics. This is why it is so commonly used to make jeans and blouses.

close up of different dark tencel fabric

Is Lyocell a Stretchy Fabric?

Generally speaking, lyocell isn’t the stretchiest of fabrics, but it does have some elasticity. 100% lyocell only has about 5% stretch to it, but this can be changed when the lyocell fibers are blended with other fabrics.

One of the fibers that give lyocell more stretch is spandex.

Because lyocell is often used as a cotton substitute, we can expect the fabric to have a very similar level of stretch.

Despite being a very similar fabric to rayon, lyocell is stretchier. Other fabrics that are plant-based like linen are usually stretchier than lyocell. 

This means that the likelihood of your lyocell stretching is quite slim. However, the fabric can shrink. Like cotton, lyocell has great shrinking properties that can affect how comfortable your clothes are.

As a result of this, you may need to try and stretch your lyocell, so your jeans fit once more.

Does Tencel (Lyocell) Stretch?

Tencel (lyocell) is revolutionizing the jean industry. Offering the same texture as cotton denim jeans but with more softness and breathability, these types of jeans are also believed to be less stretchy keeping your clothes snug and comfortable.

The fibers in Tencel are very strong, so they return to their original shape and size easily. This is why Tencel fabric and Tencel jeans don’t stretch or become misshapen.

This is great for us because it leaves us with a much more flattering pair of jeans that we can wear time and time again with the exact same feel and appearance. 

The only reason your Tencel jeans might stretch is that they have been blended with spandex. It is the spandex that will give your jeans some stretch.

The lyocell will have nothing to do with it. It is important to note that even when blended with spandex, Tencel jeans still won’t stretch much at all.

blue lyocell stretch fabric

Will Lyocell Fabrics Stretch Over Time?

While many fabrics like leather stretch over time the more you wear them, properly made lyocell fabrics should not.

This is one of the main reasons why lyocell is such a popular fabric. No matter how many times you have worn your lyocell jeans or blouse, they should always return to their original size. 

Lyocell won’t stretch when you wear it unless it has been made incorrectly. If the fabric hasn’t been properly made, there is a chance it could become misshapen after frequent wearing. 

You can easily tell whether your lyocell jeans have been made correctly by how they feel on your body. They don’t have to hug your body like other fabrics, but they should fit your body nicely.

They will feel comfortable and won’t hang loose in any area. If you find they are hanging loose in certain areas when they never used to, this could be a sign that you own a faulty lyocell fabric.

Can We Stretch Lyocell, and How Do We Do It?

One big downside to lyocell is that because it is made from plant-based fibers, it can shrink when washed. Luckily for us, we can stretch lyocell ourselves in an attempt to get it back to its original size. 

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that you can take it back to its pre-shrunk size, but it’s always worth trying. Even if you do manage to take the fabric back to its original size, the likelihood is, it will shrink again each time you wash it.

You might find yourself in a vicious cycle where you continuously shrink and stretch your lyocell clothes. 

Thankfully, stretching lyocell couldn’t be any easier. Even better, it can be done for free by hand. If you have a shrunken pair of lyocell jeans or a blouse, follow the steps found below.

crumpled lyocell or tencel fabric texture close up

These steps will help you effectively and efficiently stretch your lyocell fabrics close to the size they were before. 

1. Fill your bathtub or sink with warm water and submerge the fabric until it is completely soaked. With plant-based fibers like lyocell, you could also add some baby conditioner or shampoo to the water and give it a good mix.

This combination will open up the fibers and make them relax, making them much easier to stretch.

2. You should leave the fabrics to soak for approximately 10 minutes. Once this has been done, remove any excess water by squeezing the fabrics.

DON’T rinse the fabric out. You should then lay the fabric out on a flat dry towel to gently remove any other excess water. 

3. When the fabric is laid down on the flat surface you can start tugging on the parts of the clothing you need to stretch. To keep the areas of the fabric you aren’t stretching in place consider placing a heavy object on top. 

4. When you’ve finished stretching the fabric and feel that it is at the size you want it to be, let the clothing air dry. This will help the fabric maintain its new, stretched shape. When the fabric has dried the stretching process is done.

You should be aware that it is very likely the fabric will shrink again next time it is washed. To try and avoid this, wash the fabric in cold water and let it air dry. 

Final Thoughts

That concludes our post looking at whether or not lyocell stretches. While this plant-based fabric isn’t considered to be the stretchiest of fabrics, it still has some elasticity, especially when blended with other fabrics. 

Even when blended, this elasticity can come in handy when it comes to fixing lyocell clothes that have shrunk in the wash.

Now we’ve given you all of this information, we hope you have a much better understanding of what lyocell is, how it stretches, and how you can fix your shrunken lyocell jeans. 

If you have a shrunken pair of jeans, get the bathtub running and give our stretching method a go!