How to Choose the Best Stretch Fabric

with Anna from Spoonflower's Brand Marketing Team

Edited: May 17, 2022

From cottons to upholsteries, Spoonflower offers over 20 different fabric types to cover any project you can think of! Each one has its own set of unique characteristics, especially when it comes to our stretchy knit fabric options.

To show you how these knits stretch, move and drape, I used Seamwork’s Ace sewing pattern and stitched together five funnel neck tops (plus matching headbands) made with some of our popular knit options: Modern Jersey, Sport Lycra®, Cotton Spandex Jersey, Performance Piqué, and Organic Cotton Knit. This sewing pattern is easy to follow and only requires a few pieces to construct, making it great for beginners. Keep reading to find out which knit calls to you!


What are the different types of knit fabric?

No two of our favorite knit types are identical–which will you choose?

Modern Jersey
Sport Lycra
Cotton Spandex Jersey
Organic Cotton Knit
Performance Piqué
Learn More

Let’s get up and move! Take a closer look at all five fabrics as I show off my handmade apparel.

Modern Jersey

First up: Modern Jersey! This fine-knit fabric is a fan favorite due to its comfortable, smooth touch and versatility. Its classification as a 4-way stretch fabric, meaning it stretches quite well both horizontally and vertically, along with its 5% spandex content, allows for plenty of stretching room. Designs printed on this soft, yet durable, fabric are sure to be bright and vibrant. Modern Jersey was developed exclusively for the Spoonflower community—you can’t get this fabric and its outstanding qualities anywhere else!

Printable Width: 56″ (142 cm) wide
Weight: 6.2 oz/square yd (210 gsm)
Fabric Content: 95% polyester, 5% spandex
Stretch: 4-way: ≥ 25% horizontal stretch; < 25% vertical stretch

Project recommendations: Baby clothes, t-shirts, summer dresses, lightweight blankets, stylized jumpers

Sport Lycra

With its sturdy, sun-protective and moisture-wicking qualities, the “sport” in Sport Lycra is no joke! This stretch fabric is perfect for any sort of activewear, whether you need some leggings for yoga class or a swimsuit for your next beach trip. Its 12% Lycra content provides a large amount of stretching ability, but in a much tighter and stronger way compared to Modern Jersey. I would happily wear this top if I went for a jog in cool weather!

Printable Width: 56″ (142 cm) wide
Weight: 8.5 oz/square yd (290 gsm)
Fabric Content: 88% polyester, 12% Invista Lycra®
Stretch: 4-way: ≥ 50% horizontal stretch; ≥ 25% vertical stretch

Project recommendations: Athletic apparel, swimwear, leggings, dance costumes, headbands

Cotton Spandex Jersey

Next on our list is Cotton Spandex Jersey! Being majority cotton-based, this medium-weight fabric is extremely breathable. It definitely felt the stretchiest thanks to its 7% spandex content, and while it was pretty tight to my body I barely noticed it was there. Lighter-colored designs are ideal for printing on Cotton Spandex Jersey since they will last longer in terms of feel and color retention. For my funnel neck top and headband, this is my top knit pick!

Printable Width: 60″ (152 cm) wide
Weight: 5.5 oz/square yd (185 gsm)
Fabric Content: 93% cotton, 7% spandex
Stretch: 4-way: ≥ 50% horizontal stretch; ≥ 50% vertical stretch

Project recommendations: Adult & children’s apparel, underwear, loungewear, headbands and scarves

Performance Piqué

Performance Piqué is another great option for activewear because it is moisture-wicking and lightweight, just take into consideration its classification as a 2-way stretch fabric. This means the stretch will only go in one direction, compared to the previous fabrics on this list that stretch in both directions, crosswise and lengthwise, due to their spandex and lycra contents. While my Piqué funnel neck was indeed stretchy, there were some tighter areas around the armholes that I could have avoided by paying closer attention to which direction I cut the fabric pieces.

Printable Width: 56″ (142 cm) wide
Weight: 4.3 oz/square yd (145 gsm)
Fabric Content: 100% polyester
Stretch: 2-way: ≥ 25% horizontal stretch; < 25% vertical stretch

Project recommendations: Tennis dresses, golf shirts, dresses and skirts, science posters

Organic Cotton Knit

Last but certainly not least, Organic Cotton Knit! This fabric is similar to Performance Piqué in that it only stretches one direction, but due to its 100% ecologically grown cotton content it has a natural, soft feel and works great for cozy apparel and accessories. It’s a bit thicker compared to our other cotton contender, Cotton Spandex Jersey, allowing for the perfect combo of comfort and structure. After sewing this top I’m eager to make some matching lounge pants!

Printable Width: 56″ (142 cm) wide
Weight: 6.3 oz/square yd (215 gsm)
Fabric Content: 100% organic cotton
Stretch: 2-way: ≥ 25% horizontal stretch; < 25% vertical stretch

Project recommendations: Children’s apparel, lightweight blankets, robes, changing pad covers, reusable paper towels

Featured design: simple4 circle patterns by milatoo

Shop the full collection


Sewing with stretch fabric is fun and easy, but also requires the right tools and techniques. Click here for tips and tricks on how to sew your best with stretch fabrics, or explore our knit options even further with Meg of MEGMADE Sewing.


Try Before You Buy!

If you’re still not sure which knit is calling to you, we suggest ordering a sample pack so you can see and feel all of our fabrics in person before making a decision.

Spoonflower Sample Pack

About the Author

Headshot of Anna

Anna Fletcher

Anna is a seamstress and cosplayer of seven years who joined Spoonflower’s Brand Marketing Team in 2021. In her free time she’s either sewing together some new products for her small business, binging some sort of animated series, or relaxing with her cat, Mina.

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  • Have to say that the written descriptions are far more useful than the video as the concept of just pulling on different pieces of fabric doesn’t help understand the various differences between them… next time, could you please actually give a verbal description in the video instead of just background music? Thanks!

    Karen | October 14, 2021 at 4:51 am
    • Hi Karen,

      Including a more detailed description to the video definitely makes sense, we’ll keep this in mind as we produce future content! Thanks so much for your feedback.


      Anna | October 15, 2021 at 8:02 am
  • Great article, especially for someone like me who has to order fabrics on-line. There are few fabric stores near me.

    Ann Y Otlewski | September 7, 2021 at 8:28 am
    • We’re so glad you are finding this article helpful! Best of luck with your stretch fabric projects.


      Amy | September 9, 2021 at 8:48 am