Viscose, commonly known as Rayon is a type of semi-synthetic fabric (composed of both natural and synthetic fibers.) The main ingredient in the manufacturing of Viscose is wood pulp and although it is organic in nature the processes used to make this particular fabric are long and time consuming. Viscose fabric is however, as a result, unique and is used to make clothing, industrial grade fabrics and other many silk alternative materials. But the question today is whether or not Viscose fabric is stretchy. Let’s find out.
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How Is Viscose Fabric Made?
Cellulose (a plant protein) is extracted from wood pulp with a 90% pureness to it. The cellulose is then dissolved in caustic soda which produces a chemical reaction that converts the cellulose into powdered cellulose. The chemical reaction rids any impurities from the cellulose. The powder cellulose is then pressed in between two rollers to remove any excess liquid that may be present. The product from this part of the process is a thin sheet of cellulose paper, which is then shredded and crumbled into a substance referred to as “white crumb”. This substance is aged by exposing it to pure oxygen and then after it is exposed to carbon disulphide to make a new substance called “yellow crumb”. The yellow crumb is dissolved and left for a couple of hours. It is then filtered and any gas bubbles that may be present in it are expelled. It is then pressed through a spinneret (a device with many tiny holes in it, it is often used to make ground beef.) Finally the resulting substance is treated in a pool of sulfuric acid, which will then result in Viscose fibers.
These fibers are spun around, drawn and then washed to produce a fabric that can be cut to a desired shape and size and then made into garments and clothing.
So Is Viscose Fabric Stretchy?
No. Viscose fabric is not naturally stretchy. But a couple of other factors may make this answer debatable. It depends on what other fabrics the Viscose will be blended with and whether or not that fabric is stretchy. Basically a one hundred percent Viscose fabric is only about two percent stretchy, which is not stretchy at all when compared to stretchy fabrics like Spandex; which can stretch up to two hundred to four hundred percent its original size. However when Viscose fabric is blended with a stretchy fabric like Spandex, it can carry the same stretchy and flexible properties.
Types Of Viscose Fabric Blends That Are Stretchy
- Viscose & Spanx – This is a blend of Viscose fabric and Spandex fabric. Viscose is blended with Spandex because Spandex is one of, of not the most, stretchiest fabrics in the world. This not only makes the Viscose stretchable, it also makes it more breathable and more comfortable on the skin of the wearer.
- Viscose Lycra – Lycra is a type of synthetic elastic fiber commonly used in making tight-fitting garments like swimming costumes, etcetera. Viscose is usually blended with Lycra to get the Viscose/ Rayon look (silky-like) but the Lycra properties; which are stretchability and breathability.
- Viscose Elastane – Elastane is another variation of or different type of Spandex but with fairly less elasticity as compared to Lycra and Spandex.
- You should get blended fabric that is less than 50% Viscose fabric if all you are looking to get from it is stretchability or elasticity. This is because Viscose has fairly stiff fibers, but if you’re looking for the properties of Viscose (stiff/ unstretchable), then you can use a blended fabric that has more than 60% Viscose fabric.
Ways To Stretch Out Your Viscose Fabric
These are methods or solutions you can use if it just so happens that you have shrunk your Viscose fabric clothing or garment and you want to stretch it out, so as to return it to its normal size.
- Baby Shampoo – Put a tablespoon of baby shampoo or hair conditioner into a bowl with a quart of water. Place the Viscose fabric into the bowl and let it soak for only a few minutes. You can then remove the fabric from the bowl and gently get rid of the excess water absorbed by the fabric without twisting or wringing it. Put the fabric on a flat surface and then use your hands to gently stretch the Viscose fabric clothing or garment. You can then hang the fabric on a nonmetallic hanger. This should stretch our the Viscose fabric to its original size.
- Steaming – You can also use a steamer to relax the Viscose fibers and then again use your hands to stretch the Viscose fabric. Steaming loosens the fibers of the Viscose that are otherwise shrunk because of dehydration. Steam adds moisture back into the fibers making them as pliable as they were when the fabric was new.
- It is important to remember that Viscose is not a naturally stretchy material and so it is prone to shrinkage because of this. For a fabric to be resistant to shrinkage it has to have a certain level of elasticity, which Viscose doesn’t have therefore it is more likely to shrink. The above methods only serve to return the Viscose fabric back to its original size. They do not make the Viscose fabric stretchy, for that you would need to invest in a blended Viscose fabric, which is just as easily accessible as 100% Viscose fabric.
Viscose fabric is not as bad for the environment as one would assume this is because it is mainly composed of wood pulp cellulose which is an organic substance that can be recycled naturally by the environment. Because the Viscose fabric is made from a tough substance like wood pulp cellulose (although further treated), it retains that tough property even on a microscopic level such that even the Viscose fibers are also tough and unstretchable and bearing little to no amount of elasticity. This is also a result of how the Viscose fabric is woven.