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[Answered] Is Viscose Stretchy?

Fashion is cyclical, and so are textiles. Yesterday’s trends are today’s hits, and what fades will shine again in time’s brace.“ What is viscose?” has been a hot question in recent years. However, this is not the first time that viscose fabrics have gained popularity. About 200 years ago, people were dedicated to pursuing a substitute for silk. Viscose debuted as an outcome of the dedication, with a silk-like touch and lustrous surface. Nowadays, viscose, also called rayon, is sought-after for its excellent performance in lightness, texture, breathability and versatility.

However, the public also maligns its rigidness and poor elasticity. Is viscose fabric really not stretchy? Let us dive into this complicated question now; all the intricacies will be shed light on when you get to the end.

Is Viscose Fabric Stretchy?

TLDR: Pure woven viscose is not stretchy, but pure knitted viscose offers some stretchability.  Some types of viscose blends, such as viscose spandex, possess superior elasticity and resilience.

Unlike synthetic elastomeric fibers, viscose has limited stretching and rebounding power. The fiber itself is not capable of elongating much without losing its original shape. Apart from the stiff nature of viscose, the weaving methods, weight, finishing treatments and mixed yarns also impact the stretchiness of viscose fabrics. 

As you know, T-shirts and leggings are elastic whereas button-up shirts and pleated dresses are not. When you boil this difference down, this diversification partly results from the different behaviors of knitted and woven fabrics. A knitted viscose is more stretchy than a woven one for the give of its braided loops. Moreover, a lightweight and thin knitted viscose has better stretchiness than its weighty and thick counterparts. Nowadays, fabric manufacturers infuse elasticity into viscose by blending it with elastic yarns. For example, add lycra to kitted viscose fabrics and spandex to woven ones. Consequently, pure viscose only stretches up to about 2% while viscose spandex stretches at least 20% of its size.

Types of Viscose with Stretchability

Pure viscose fabrics are ill-suited for most elastic clothing. However, viscose can accept manufacturing processes improving stretchability and blends with other types of fibers well. Here is a brief list of stretchable viscose.

  • Viscose jersey: It is a type of sheer knit made of plant cellulose. Modern crafts can use viscose jerseys to produce clothes of moderate elasticity, such as jerseys for kids.
  • Viscose with elastane: Elastane, also called spandex, is one of the best elastic fibers. The addition of spandex makes up for the rigidness of viscose. Besides, viscose fabrics with elastane in different proportions assume subtle differences and are applied in various garment makings.
  • Cuprammonuium: The abbreviation “cupro” or “cupra” may be more familiar to the public. This type of viscose is made of cellulose dissolving in a strong ammonia solution of kocide SD or copper salt. Some manufacturers hype it as “ammonia silk” owning to its fineness.
  • Slinky viscose: It is a blend of acetate and viscose. This type of fabric is also knitted and it has a better stretchability than knitted viscose for the addition of acetate. Further, it boasts a wide range of slinky items for its comfortable texture, excellent breathability and remarkable elasticity.
  • Polyester viscose: Polyester viscose, AKA poly-viscose retains the pros of polyester and viscose but relinquishes some cons of its raw materials.
  • Viscose staple: It is a prospective alternative to another staple fiber, cotton. It has similar properties to cotton but is stretchy and resilient.
  • Viscose with bamboo: This type of fabric is not the same as bamboo viscose, a viscose of bamboo cellulose, but a blend of viscose and raw bamboo fibers. It is a relatively elastic fabric with great sustainability and eco-friendliness.

How to Make Viscose Fabric Stretchy?

Sometimes, you may need to stretch your silky and soft viscose to increase its flexibility. Then, you can try the methods listed below.

Stretch the fabric by a fabric stretcher

A fabric stretcher special for delicate viscose is a “pro” you can turn to. A stretchy panel is another professional instrument that works well. Pay attention, you should select one matching the size of your fabric and follow the rules in the operating manual.

Stretch the fabric by hands

You can stretch the viscose fabric by hand. Try to impose an appropriate force on the corners and edges of your viscose. Do not stretch it too hard and tear it apart.

Soak the viscose in water

Soaking it in water is a simple but effective way to relax its fibers. You can stretch the viscose in the water but no need for the fear of tearing. Water not only improves the fabric’s tolerance of stretching but also maintains its integrity. However, you should smooth and flatten the fabric in gentle care after getting it out of the water. Or its stretched condition may fall to preserve and obvious creases emerge.

Tip: Replace the water with a dilution containing a fabric softener to get better results.

Wash the fabric

As mentioned in the previous method, viscose can release its rigidness in water. Except a full soak in water, other processes during a wash can also be steps forward.

Heat the fabric

Proper heat facilitates the relief of stiffness in viscose. So you can iron or steamer the fabric after washing it. Remember, viscose is a type of delicate fabric, and cope with it according to the care instructions.

Tumble dry the fabric

A prolonged tumble dry in the machine makes the fabric pliable and stretchable. It is a method free of manpower but only with a machine.

Wear the fabric

It is a method for viscose garments. They gain a certain stretching performance after wearing of a long time.

How Elastic Is Viscose Fabric Compare to Other Fabrics?

Viscose vs Polyester

Polyester does not gain fame in elasticity, but its stretching performance is 5 times better than viscose’s.

Viscose vs Spandex

Viscose’s elasticity is a far cry from polyester’s.  Spandex is revered for its exceptional stretchability and resilience. It can stretch up to 500% and recover 99% back from a 50% stretch.

Viscose vs Nylon

Nylon offers a stretchability superior to polyester but inferior to spandex.

Viscose vs cotton

As you may know, the strong elasticity is to be precise a quality of synthetic fabrics. Among natural fabrics, cotton still ranks low in stretchability and resilience. However, it performs slightly better than viscose.


Does Viscose Shrink?

Yes, shrinkage is almost unavoidable during viscose’s every wash. However, measures can be taken to reduce the shrinkage and unshrink viscose. For more details, please browse out post named “Does viscose shrink?”.

How to Wash Viscose?

As a safe and efficient way to stretch your viscose, getting the know-how of washing viscose is important. We listed all the ins and outs of cleaning viscose in the past. A few key points are here for a shallow understanding.

  • Check the care label carefully.
  • Select an expert detergent or a mild one for delicate fabrics.
  • Prepare cold or lukewarm water for washing.
  • Wash and rinse it with a gentle touch.
  • Do not expose it to direct sun or high heat.


Viscose fabrics have much potential waiting exploration, including enhanced stretchability.  Arriving at the ending part, you can absolutely say something about the question “Is viscose fabric stretchy”. Having been founded for about 10 years, Sinosilk has established itself in the textile industry and gained popularity for custom silk. If you have other doubts about silk or other textiles, do not hesitate to contact us for professional answers.

More Resource

What is rayon fabric? – Source: Sinosilk

Viscose vs silk – Source: Sinosilk

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