Working with Rayons

Posted by Natasha Chrismas on


Fabric: Periwinkle Blossoms Collection by Indy Bloom | Hawthorne Supply Co.
Patterns: Simple Lily Dress (left) and Poppy Dress (right) | Peony Patterns

Hi everyone!  I'm Kari from That's-Sew-Kari and here to discuss another fabric base -- Rayon!  Last year, I decided that I needed to branch out and try more fabric bases.  Rayon was one of those fabrics from which I had subconsciously shied away.  I realized I just needed to try it!  So I did and fell in love.  Since then, I've sewn rayon from several different companies.  My girls love how comfortable it is to wear and of course, the dreamy drape and how it swishes when they walk!  



Today, I'm showcasing the Periwinkle Blossoms Collection by Indy Bloom for Hawthorne Supply Co. in Rayon.   I chose 4 prints for coordinating sister dresses for my two girls.  I kept it simple for my oldest and chose Modern Stripe in Black and simply rotated the orientation for the stripes for the skirt.  For my youngest, I selected Large Blossoming in Periwinkle Rose, Little Modern Polka Dot in White on Powder Pink, and Little Modern Stripe in Black.


Poppy Dress and Bluebell Bow

What is Rayon?


  • Rayon is a semi-synthetic fabric made from purified celluose fibers, most commonly from wood pulp.   
  • Hawthorne carries both Rayon (plain weave) and Rayon Sateen (satin weave), both suitable for apparel.  (This site gives great visuals for the difference between the two weaves.) 
  • Hawthorne's rayon can be ordered in 44" or 48" wide designs and is ~3.7 oz per yard before printing.


Simple Lily (using just the bodice lining pattern pieces for the bodice)

Before you sew:


  • Prewash your fabric in a cool, gentle cycle and tumble dry low.  Before drying, the fabric may not feel very soft, don't worry!  Once you dry it, it will feel amazing!   
  • Change your needle.  I used a microtex/sharp needle which has very small point-- if you don't have a microtex needle, choose a smaller sized universal for lightweight fabrics.  A new needle is best so the tip isn't dulled any.
  • Choose a suitable pattern.   I don't recommend choosing a pattern with a circle skirt.  I've found that it's difficult to get an even hem due to how it drapes on the bias.  If you are up for the challenge, however, be sure to hang the garment for a few days to let the fabric settle before tackling the hem.


When you're cutting: 



  • Avoid cutting on the fold.  It's really difficult to keep the grain straight when it's folded.  (Natasha has a great tip here for cutting rayon with scissors.)
  • Take your time.  Rayon can shift really easily, even under an acrylic ruler. 
  • Avoid letting your fabric hang off your cutting table.  This will stretch out your fabric. If you can move your cutting station to the floor, it's recommended. 
  • For a fitted bodice, I recommend lining with a lightweight cotton to add a little bit more structure.  It also ensures that you won't stretch out your seams when sewing, resulting in a garment that is larger than intended. 

When you're sewing: 
  • I recommend clips over pins to avoid unnecessary holes.  Not all clips are created equal though.  Avoid ones that secure the fabric by pushing through a hole in the other side of the clip.   My personal, inexpensive go-to for clips:  Bobby pins from the dollar store.  They slide onto your fabric layers easily, but have the perfect amount of grip.   (Do not sew over them though!)
  • When gathering, place the double row of gathering stitches inside the seam allowance so you don't create holes at the top of the skirt when you remove your gathering stitches.
  • If sewing rayon and cotton layers together, I prefer the rayon to be on the bottom (feed dogs) and the cotton on top so the presser foot doesn't shift the rayon forward.  Alternatively, use a walking foot.
  • Apply interfacing between the layers for buttonholes and buttons.  This helps strengthen the fabric.
  • Avoid deep hems.  Deep hems provide more structure to the skirt which kind of defeats using rayon for its drape.   In the example above, Lily usually has a 3" hem (after an initial turn-under of 1/2").  I changed the hem to a double 1/4" turn by removing 3" in length before cutting.
  • Easy Hem Trick: Run the edge to hem through your serger without cutting off any fabric.  This provides an easy 1/4" guide for you hem and helps you get an even hem all the way around.
When you're ironing:
  • Reduce your heat setting.  Cotton setting will be too hot and could possibly melt your fabric.  I recommend testing out your settings on a scrap first.  Alternatively, use a cotton barrier over your rayon when ironing.
  • It's best to iron from the wrong side.
  • Avoid pulling on the fabric under the iron.
I hope these tips inspire you to branch out and try rayon!  Visit Hawthorne Supply Co.  to see all the different designs!


Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →