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Polyester Fabric Guide: Characteristics & Printing

Polyester is nowadays one of the most common human-made fabrics globally and one of the most popular synthetic fabrics overall. But there’s some myth-busting to do. 

A question we get asked a lot: Is polyester stretchy? 

You might think polyester is stretchy, as an elastic material. In fact, it is actually pretty rigid. 


This is because there’s a fundamental difference between polyester as a pure fibre and polyester as a blend. 


They’re actually blended with other materials that are adding the elasticity that polyester wouldn’t have: two examples are lycra and spandex. Probably what your gym leggings are made of.  The majority of polyester garments on the market very often aren't 100% polyester.

Polyester characteristics 

Polyester is a fabric that is fundamentally made from plastic. It’s affordable, efficient, and relatively easy to work with as it doesn’t wrinkle. 

Polyester fabric aka polyethene terephthalate for the fellow nerds out there was invented in 1941 by British chemists. 

This type of fabric holds its shape, in contrast to linen and cotton fabrics which wrinkle easily. It doesn’t require ironing, and its wrinkle resistance made it especially popular in the ‘far out’ 70s as an alternative to clothing that required frequent washing and ironing. Leaving more time for disco dancing the night away. 

The main selling point was the fact that it could be worn for 68 days straight without ironing or care and still look fresh. (but you might not smell too fresh).

Polyester has come a long way, and thanks to innovative manufacturing processes, it’s now more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing than ever: you can find polyester microfibre that looks and feels like real silk.

As we mentioned, it is incorporated into many different fabric blends to provide lightweight comfort and wrinkle protection, together with durability and strength. Great for kidswear and so much more.  

Is polyester a good fabric? Or Is it a bad fabric? 

Despite all its perks, polyester it’s typically non-biodegradable. Natural fibres usually are biodegradable, which means they will break down over time and avoid clogging up landfills and releasing toxic chemicals. 

This doesn’t apply to polyester, as it doesn’t break down easily and the environmental impact of most polyester yarns is detrimental. Things are changing as many innovative procedures make it possible to recycle polyester. Phew!

Some designers are even recycling plastic bottles into new fabrics that can last for years to come! 

Recycled polyester is often labelled as rPet (take note guys and gals!), and is made from recycled plastic bottles. The production of recycled polyester requires far fewer resources than that of new fibres and generates fewer CO2 emissions. Sometimes it’s hard to reproduce polyester properties by sticking to natural fabrics, so we try to keep in mind that it’s the dose that makes the poison. 

Try to use natural, organic fibres whenever possible, recycle as much as you can and opt for synthetic fabrics in a way that will enhance their durability over time. 

Printing on polyester 

Printing on polyester is extremely easy, and as it’s wrinkle-resistant, it will show your prints without worrying the fabric will crease. 

At Fashion Formula, you can print your own fabric using your designs or one from our creative hub. You can also upload your design to sell for commission and become part of our community now!

Tags: Polyester, stretchy, fabric,

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