Sunday 29th of November 2020

Nairobi, Kenya

Unearthing Fabrics: Spandex

Posted On : July 7, 2020

Linda Wairegi

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Unearthing fabrics is a new series that looks at your favourite garments before you started wearing them.

Today, we’re looking at Spandex however it can also be called Lycra or Elastane. It’s a wonder garment with endless possibilities.

HISTORY OF SPANDEX
Rock & roll musicians liked wearing tight pants, made of spandex and this helped popularise it. Superheroes & Villains wear costumes made of elastane in comic books, tv series & movie adaptations.

CREATING SPANDEX
It’s a polyether-polyurea copolymer fabric formed when a polyester reacts with a diisocyanate to create a long polymer chain. This polymer chain is placed in a fibre production cell, spun around before it’s pushed through a spinneret.
The fibres are heated with nitrogen and solvent gas solution to form solid strands and bundled together as they exit the spinning cell. Later it’s treated with a finishing agent like magnesium stearate before its loaded on a spool ready for use.

WHY SPANDEX
Spandex has a high elasticity and stretches up to five times its original length without breaking.
It isn’t worn out by lotions, sweat or deodorants. It’s highly breathable, durable & easily pulls moisture to the surface so it can evaporate.
In clothes, it helps people feel comfortable since it fits different body sizes exactly. Spandex can absorb different colour pigments. A fashion designer has the freedom of creativity.
Alternatively, it can be sourced as an opaque fabric. It isn’t damaged when it’s sewn with other fabrics because it’s sturdy and abrasion-resistant.
On the other side, Spandex doesn’t let your body breathe since it’s skin tight. Also, it’s heat-sensitive, you can only handle it with warm water, so it retains its shape.

WHERE IS SPANDEX USED
Spandex can create underwear, innerwear or activewear men and women. It can create a wide- range of fashion garments including sportswear, swimsuits, bra straps, yoga pants, leggings, bicycle pants & support hose.

Spandex is slightly expensive so it can be used with other material like wool, cotton, polyester e.t.c to give them more elasticity.
Outside fashion, spandex has also been used in furniture & automotive door panel fabrics. In the film industry, it’s used for creating motion capture suits that make it easier to generate 3D visual effects.

Let us know about your favourite Spandex moments in the comments section below.

Linda Wairegi

Creative writer interested in life & being happy ;)

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