Fabric with green background and white birds flying around

Cotton Lycra vs Cotton Spandex

Cotton Lycra or Cotton Spandex. What is the difference?

Cotton Lycra is a really common term and fabric base used in the sewing community. You will be hard pressed to find someone who uses knit fabrics that doesn't know what Cotton Lycra is. It is so common that most of the time people just abbreviate it to "CL".

When I first started sewing, I would see terms like CL, FT, DBP and many more and wonder what everyone was talking about. Google became my best friend! I spent hours googling what the abbreviations meant. I know, I COULD have just asked in the group, but I didn't want to look like the "newb" that I was!

I've realized that I have a fear of looking dumb. This is so silly because, in my experience, sewists are the most helpful, encouraging, uplifting, and kind people of any group I've ever interacted with. Nonetheless, I didn't really know how nice and affirming everyone was until much later, so I googled terms and fabrics. 

I would love to share some of my knowledge with you! I'm sure you have a bunch of questions about Cotton Lycra. Here are some that I am going to address in this blog.


green background fabric with white birds on it


Cotton Lycra vs Cotton Spandex.

What is Cotton Lycra Material?

What is Cotton Lycra used for?

Does Cotton Lycra Shrink?



Cotton Lycra vs Cotton Spandex:

Let me begin by saying Lycra is a brand name for elastane. Elastane is the generic term for what we call spandex or Lycra. Not all Spandex is Lycra, but all Lycra is spandex, and all of them are elastane. It's kind of like calling all tissues "Kleenex" not every brand of tissue is Kleenex, but all Kleenex are tissues. 

So, when you ask the question about which is better Spandex or Lycra, your kind of asking what is better Kleenex or Tissue? You might find that you enjoy Puffs over bargain brand, but it is all a tissue. Similarly, you might find you enjoy the brand Lycra over another lesser-known spandex manufacturer, but it is all the same thing.

What is Cotton Lycra Material?

Cotton Lycra is a blend of cotton and spandex. Different mills create different blends. WayMaker Fabrics uses a Cotton Lycra that is 92% cotton and 8% spandex. Ours is considered medium weight, but it's at the low end of medium weight. This weight of 240gsm gives it a nice drape. I've used CL in the past that was so thick that it was stiff. I like my shirts to appear soft visually, actually be soft and move with my body. 

What is Cotton Lycra Used for?

This is a really broad question, and I hope to give you some clarity. Cotton Lycra is a knit fabric and will have some stretch to it. The amount of stretch and the direction of stretch will vary wildly from company to company. Ultimately, Cotton Lycra also known as Cotton Spandex uses include shirts, pants, leggings, dresses, or any other garment that requires some stretch. 

girl walking outside wearing a green romper with orange squares on it.

WayMaker Fabrics cotton Lycra is great for tops, dresses and pants, but because it is not a heavy weight CL, I would not recommend it for leggings. People love CL leggings, but you might find our CL to be little too lightweight to feel comfortable in your workout gear. However, if you just want to make leggings and have no plans to exercise in them, then you might find the weight ideal for your project. 

I recommend feeling the fabrics before you decide what to make out of them. There are

Girl standing outside wearing a turtleneck shirt with lines on it and a skirt with orange and green boxes on it.a lot of things that go into fabric construction, and it is not a one size fits all scenario. Even if two fabrics have the same weight and cotton/spandex content each will feel different, have a different texture, stretch percentage, recovery and other differences.

Does Cotton Lycra Shrink?

In a nutshell, yes. Cotton can shrink. The Lycra or Spandex just adds that extra level of stretch to it. We always recommend people wash their fabric prior to using it for a number of reasons. One is the possibility of shrinkage. Your CL might come to you preshrunk, but it might not. It really depends on who you buy it from. While your Cotton Lycra is not guaranteed to shrink; it is best to wash and dry your fabric prior to making something out of it. No one wants a shirt that fits perfectly to suddenly be too small after its first washing... or better yet, first drying.

One of my favorite sayings is, "wash it like you hate it, that way nothing worse will ever happen to it".

So, if you are in the mood for some really beautifully draped CL, and want unique designs, then head on over to waymakerfabris.com and check out our current pre-order or retail fabrics. You won't be sorry!

Stop Waiting, Start Making!




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