Sewing with Rayon with Riley Blake Designs
Sewing with rayon is something I found myself scared of when I was first starting out on my sewing journey. Rayon is lightweight, it drapes beautifully making it perfect for garment sewing, but it can be a little bit tricky to sew with. I have a few tips for you today to make sewing with rayon a little less scary. With some prep work, you can successfully sew with rayon too!
Tip #1 Make sure to choose a quality rayon
I had the pleasure of working with the new rayon challis from Riley Blake Designs. The print I chose is Dahlia Grenadine by Mimi G and Cori Sheff. Riley Blake’s Rayon Challis has a super smooth hand with a fluid drape. It makes stunning dresses and skirts because of the flowy nature of this fabric.
Tip #2 Clip, clip, clip
My number one tip is to pin or clip your fabric more than you think you should. I use A LOT of clips to ensure that my fabric does not shift while sewing. Rayon is slightly stretchy on the bias so you need to be very careful not to warp your fabric when sewing. Pinning or clipping a lot helps you to avoid this. If you would rather use pins, be sure to use super-fine sharp pins, I prefer size 20. Rayon snags easily on larger pins.
Tip #3 Choosing the right sewing needle
When sewing with rayon you must MUST must use a smaller sized needle. Large needles will not only leave large holes in your delicate rayon fabric, but they can also snag and leave pulls in your rayon as you are sewing. I prefer to use a brand new 70/10 microtex (or sharp) needle. A dull needle will create snags. I promise you, you do not want to take the risk of a long snag down the front of a dress that you just painstakingly sewed. Ask me how I know..
Tip #4 Choosing the best stitch length
I have the luxury of owning a fancy new Husqvarna Viking machine that has Viking’s exclusive SEWING ADVISOR® feature which optimizes your sewing by selecting the best settings for you and giving you on-screen advice. Not everyone has this feature so it can be tricky to know what settings you should use when sewing with different fabric types. Some people will use a narrow straight stitch, however I prefer to use a narrow zigzag stitch at 0.5mm wide and 2.5mm long. This helps to enable the seam to relax as your fabric relaxes. If you choose to use a narrow straight stitch, I recommend a stitch length of 2mm as opposed to the standard 2.5mm.
Tip #5 Use a cutting mat and rotary cutter
Personally, I always use a cutting mat and rotary cutter, no matter what fabrics I am cutting. However, it is especially helpful to use these tools when cutting rayon or other slippery fabrics. Make sure you have a large space to cut, move your supplies to the floor if needed. If you have the end of your fabric hanging over the edge of a table it will pull and this is especially true with a lightweight fabric like rayon. Pay special attention to the grainline of your fabric (runs parallel to the selvage) and make sure the fabric is laid out properly. This is much easier to do on a large work surface.
A really great tip for making sure your fabric stays straight is to align your selvage to the edge of your cutting mat.
Tip #6 Do not push or pull on your fabric
While this is an important tip when sewing in general, it is especially important when sewing with rayon. Rayon stretches out very easily and if you push or pull on your fabric you can end up with seams that will not lay nicely.
Tip #7 Lift and Press with your Iron
When pressing your rayon, I recommend pressing your seam and then lifting straight up. Avoid ironing back and forth so that you are not accidentally stretching out your fabric.
On this same note, be sure to use the correct heat setting on your iron when pressing your rayon. Using too hot of a setting can leave permanent shiny marks on your fabric. My iron has a rayon setting on it but if yours doesn’t, set your iron at medium heat.
Tip #8 Prewash, Prewash, Prewash!
Rayon is known for shrinking. On Riley Blake Designs website they recommend washing on cold and laying flat to dry. Now I’m going to be naughty right now and tell you something that RBD might not like, but I dry my rayon after prewashing. This is not necessary and maybe you should be a rule follower and avoid this, but hear me out for a second.
My husband is known for picking up a pile of laundry and just tossing it into the wash willy nilly. I dry my fabric so that in the chance that my husband may throw the garment into the dryer, hopefully it will be safe having already been dried once.
Now that I’ve given you some tips for sewing with rayon, I hope that you’ll feel more confident in using it for your next project!
Riley Blake Designs new Designer Rayon Collection is available now at your favorite local and online fabric shops!
Don’t forget to follow our Instagram page @booandlublog for more projects and inspiration. And while you’re at it, follow @rileyblakedesigns for more beautiful fabric!
Read my other sewing related posts here.