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Woman's dress
MFA# 1999.671


[Invista, formerly DuPont Textiles] A registered trademark for a spandex (Polyurethane) fiber that is produced as a continuous filament. Lycra was introduced in 1959. It is available in a wide range of yarn sizes with denier from 40-2240. It has excellent stretch and recovery properties and is one of the most durable elastic fibers available. Lycra is used for girdles, swimwear, surgical hose, and athletic clothes. Chlorine in swimming pools can cause slow degradation of the fibers.

Lycra at 200x polarized light
Lycra at 200x transmitted light

Synonyms and Related Terms

spandex; licra (Esp.); Lycra (Ned);


Combustible, but self-extinguishing.

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Soluble in hot dimethyl formamide.
  • Moisture regain = 0.3%
  • Elongation 500-700%.
  • Cross section = round and fused at random points.
  • Melting Point = 230 C


Properties of Synthetic Fibers

Resources and Citations

  • Lycra: Website
  • Rosalie Rosso King, Textile Identification, Conservation, and Preservation, Noyes Publications, Park Ridge, NJ, 1985
  • Marjory L. Joseph, Introductory Textile Science, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Fort Worth, TX, 1986
  • Thomas Gregory, The Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Reinhold Publishing, New York, 3rd ed., 1942
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998