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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Chat - a little talk about Rayon.


Hello everyone,

Thank you all for your lovely comments on yesterday's post A summery drapey top - Simplicity 1316.

Some of you raised some queries about rayon.

Rayon and viscose are the same types of fibres.  Rayon is a cellulose based fibre, made from wood pulp or cotton fibres.  It was developed after World War 2. 

In different countries different names are used for rayon - so you may find it called rayon, or it may be called viscose. Sometimes I have seen the hybrid name viscose-rayon.  Whatever name you find this fabric under, it is chemically reconstituted cellulose fibre. 

Rayon has been called artificial silk because of it's draping qualities, but it is nothing like silk in the way the fibres work.  Rayon fibres are quite weak, unlike silk, which is a much stronger fibre.  Rayon fibres are especially weak when wet.  The fibres absorb a lot of moisture when wet and this affects the fibre to weaken it. 

Of course, this is the reason that rayon is cool to wear in summer - it's ability to absorb moisture from the body, thus cooling the body when evaporation takes place.

Because rayon is a weak fibre, it is also easy to damage - the fibres abrade very easily.  This is what happened with my top, and why I said it is best to have simple designs for rayon (something I had forgotten as it is years since I have worked with rayon).

This is because the less work you do, the less likely you are to abrade the fibres!

This is also what I meant when I said I don't like to work with rayon - it is slippery, but not overly so - more it drapes and flops all the time, and because I do not work with it all the time, I forget what to do.

With this rayon there is no need to stabilise with a gelatine wash - it had enough body.  With a very fine rayon I might do this, but I have sewn wedding dresses out of silk and silk satin, and georgette - and could never stabilised any of those garments because you do not pre-wash when you make a wedding gown - it takes out the size and finish and the resulting dress would not look new and fresh.  Mind you, for my own sewing of course this is a good trick - I always pre-wash everything anyway so that I can launder myself later.

Rayon must be ironed when it is slightly damp, and not too hot an iron.  Seams will show if pressed from the right side - Clare Schaeffer says to use a press cloth if pressing on the right side of a rayon garment, but I still find that a seam imprint can show.  My imprints are minimal, but still there a bit.

Clare Schaeffer also says to open princess seams on a rayon garment to help with drape - I did not do this, but overlocked them together - as this was an unlined garment I wanted a fairly clean look inside.  This did not affect the look or hang of the garment much at all.

So don't be scared of sewing rayon, just be aware of some of it's properties and that should make the job easier.  And remember it abrades easily, so sew carefully, and   have a first aid plan ready - mine of course was the daisy solution.  And expect it to wrinkle and need a bit of care with ironing.  Still, on a hot day, I don't mind a few wrinkles if I am cool.  And if anyone has the energy to point them out to me on a 100 degree day,  I would be surprised. 

I usually wash my fragile garments in a lingerie washing  bag - I rarely handwash, as I don't have time.  This top survived a gentle machine wash in a lingerie washing bag.  I smooth wrinkles out prior to drying as well.  I don't like too many fussy garments in my wardrobe because I don't have the time to fuss over them!

At the moment in Australia, Spotlight is selling Rayon for $9.99 a metre.  They have two varieties - one on rolls and one double folded on bolts.  The rayon on the bolt is a much better quality than the one on the roll - that is softer and wrinkles a lot.  The other washes and pretty much drip drys - amazing.  I wanted the cobalt colour which was on a roll.  Since then Spotlight has bought in some cobalt colour rayon on a bolt - so I bought a piece of that as well.  So I decided to practice sewing with rayon again with the lesser quality piece - and it was a bit cheaper too, as I got it in one of Spotlight's sales.


Rayon can be found as a lining fabric, but I have not seen it - I think you would need to go to tailoring suppliers for that.  In Australia, in the domestic market, lining is very basic,  mostly acetate and polyester, and fairly lightweight.

I hope this helps some of you that had a few queries,

Sarah Liz :)



22 comments:

  1. Thanks SarahLiz. The 5 metres I purchased at the Remnant Warehouse feels beautiful. Just waiting on a pattern I purchased to sew it up. I hope it behaves itself.

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    1. I'm sure it will BeaJay, especially now you know more about how to handle it :)

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  2. Useful information thank you for taking the time to share

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  3. Dont think I to my knowledge I used rayon, useful info for when I do, thanks.

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  4. Those rayon blouses weigh a ton when they come out of the washing machine! I used to sew with it more often in the eighties, don't see it that often in fabric shops nowadays.

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    1. Yes, it was popular in the 80's. I haven't seen it around for years, so I made sure to stash some.

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  5. Thanks, Sarah Liz. I have a viscose blouse, fairly hefty weight like medium weight cotton, but beautifully soft, which is great - almost wash n wear. Machine wash at that. When I was younger, I used to avoid viscose garments because they didn't wear well and got very creased so looked fairly awful. I've never sewn with it. I will try to get some to make up tops for our summer, though that's not very hot!

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    1. Yes, some rayons do wrinkle badly - I am going to try to avoid those in future :). It does drape nicely though, so see how you go with a top.

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  6. Great information about fabrics! I always love to learn new things.

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  7. Thank you, that is so interesting . I didn't realise those aspects of rayon. So interesting to understand what materials we use. by the way what is a gelatine wash and do you use that for silk.

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    1. Yes, you can use gelatine to stabilise slippery fabrics. If you plan to wash silk you could use it. Google gelatine as a stabiliser and you will find lot so info - Threads also has information about this.

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  8. great information! it's alwasy good to know what we're buying when we buy something just because we like it lol!

    Helen

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  9. Thanks for sharing this great information..love fabric information..Have a great day.

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  10. I am WAY late to commenting on the last of your few posts. First, thank you for sharing some info about rayon. I have sort of a hate-tolerate-hate relationship with rayon. It's fidgety, wrinkly, and shrinky. But I love how it drapes.

    I like your last Simplicity top. It's the perfect pattern for rayon and the color looks great on you.

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    1. I guess you have had lots on your plate recently, so no worries this end about you being late :).

      Seems like we share a similar opinion about rayon - useful, but!

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  11. So informative Sarah!! Thank you so much for sharing this. I also like rayon especially in the summer. It is so cool and flowy to wear.

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