Tencel is the revolutionary fabric of the future. It is lightweight, silky smooth and doesn’t wrinkle. It’s even taking over from cotton as the best fabric for jeans. You would expect it to be stretchy but how stretchy is Tencel exactly?
Tencel has some stretching properties, but not enough to compete with other fabrics. Tencel only has a 5% stretch in all directions. While you can rely on Tencel for a flattering fit, don’t expect a smaller sized garment to stretch enough to magically fit. Tencel jeans can be stretchy but this is due to the elastane component in the fabric.
Does Tencel stretch as you wear it?
100% Tencel clothes are durable and unlike cotton, don’t stretch the more you wear them. In fact, after the initial slight shrinkage during the first wash, Tencel garments maintain their shape for years.
This is good news for those of us who hate throwing our clothes away after a few months when it gets pulled out and goes out of shape with just a few wears.
In fact, my Tencel dress survived my 1-year-old Tommy pulling at it multiple times. Hard. In my books, that’s evidence of non-stretchiness right there.
Even brands like Tommy Hilfiger has jumped on the Tencel bandwagon.
Are Tencel sheets stretchy?
Tencel sheets are known for their luxurious softness but 100% Tencel sheets are not stretchy. Some Tencel sheets are made of a blend of Tencel and other fiber like cotton, polyester or elastane and can be stretchy.
I for one, would rather have non-stretchy 100% Tencel sheets. There is nothing as divine as sinking into my luxurious Tencel bedsheets after a long day.
How does Tencel’s stretch compare to other fabrics?
We know that Tencel only stretches 5% but what does this really mean in the real world? How does it compare with other fabrics its competing against?
Pure cotton fabric only stretches a little over time. Your cotton t-shirt is more likely to shrink than expand. And if you try to squeeze into a cotton dress that is too tight, it will probably tear.
Unfortunately cotton denim does the exact opposite. I hate baggy jeans but they stretch out so fast! Cotton denim always stretches with wearing and washing. Cotton denim doesn’t actually have any stretch but the cotton threads expand and your favorite pair of jeans just don’t recover.
That’s why I’m a big fan of Tencel jeans.
Similar to other plant fibers, pure linen has no stretch in them. Linen fibers are more prone to damage than Tencel fibers. If you try to stretch linen, even when wet, you can cause the fibers to break and damage your garment.
Polyester fibers are not stretchy either. There is hardly any give in them.
It’s no surprise that all our bum-hugging jeans and body-con dresses contains elastane.
Guess how much elastane stretches? You would never believe it but elastane stretches up to 600% its original length!
How to stretch Tencel fabric
We know Tencel doesn’t stretch. However, if you bought a new shirt and it’s just a tad bit tight around the chest, or you hot-washed your Tencel top by accident and it shrunk, you can certainly try to stretch it out. Wet the fabric slightly and pull by hand on whatever area that need stretching.
Be careful that you don’t tear the fabric or damage the microfibrils.
I generally wouldn’t recommend trying to stretch 100% Tencel unless your piece of clothing has elastane in it. But if that was the case, you wouldn’t need to stretch it any way.
To wrap up
Now you know how stretchy Tencel really is. Unlike popular belief, pure Tencel doesn’t stretch.
This is why you hardly find 100% Tencel in activewear and lingerie. This is unfortunate because pure Tencel fabric is biodegradable but once its blended with a synthetic fiber like elastane, it’s not compostable anymore.