If you’ve ever seen my fabric haul videos, you know I’m crazy about rayon knits. All rayon, all the time! There are a few downsides to rayon knits though, so I thought I’d do a post about the pros and cons.
Amazing drape. Rayon drapes like a dream. It has a natural weight that cotton knits don’t have, so you can have volume without bulkiness. It can make casual patterns look elegant and chic.
Great 4-way stretch. For whatever reason, rayon kits always seem to include a healthy dose of lycra/spandex/whateveryoucallit. Most rayon jerseys (except perhaps tissue weight or slub knits) have 4 way stretch, which makes it perfect for leggings of any close-fitting sleeve, skirt or dress that you want to move with you and not ride up or bind. Because of all the stretch, it’s also great for doing folded bands to finish necklines/sleeves. Just be sure to really stretch the band tight!
Super soft. Like butter. I always catch myself stroking the fabric on my rayon clothes! It also feels cool to the touch and breathes well, so it’s perfect in summer. Also great in winter, spring and fall. 😉
Holds up well over time. Any jersey pills over time, but I find my rayon knit clothes hold up much better than cotton knits (which get the white halo) or polyester knits (which pill immediately.) It will pill on the inner thigh for leggings or pants.
Gravity wins. Rayon gets tired of holding itself up all day. The neckline on my maxis stretch lower through the day, and the princess seams on my leopard Jalie Bella dress stretch and lose all shaping.To overcome the weight of rayon, I fold my rayon clothes over the hanger so that the shoulders don’t stretch out over time. I often reinforce the waistband on dresses with elastic, or use slightly wider folded bands to finish a neckline. The fabric bounces right back when gravity isn’t pulling on it, so the clothes don’t lose more and more shape over time.
Light weight. Who knows why, but a lot of the rayon for sale online is really thin. If you don’t want something slightly sheer, make sure you check for medium weight!
Solids show everything. This is why I love prints so much! Rayon prints are super-flattering, in my humble opinion… but oh boy, solid rayon will show every lump and bump. I’ve got a project that I’ll blog soon which is an example of when even a lovely fabric can be unflattering. Oh, and they get creased easily in the wash!
Hemming can be a b****. My coverstitch goes squirrely when faced with a light rayon. It’s hard to keep it going straight, and the tension needs to be fiddled so it won’t tunnel. Be warned! Plenty of my rayon projects in the pictures have raw hems though, and that works just fine.
Types of Rayon Knits:
Jersey. Includes slub knits, tissue knits, “regular” weight, medium weight, and super lush beefy knits. When rayon is blended with another fibre (cotton or poly, usually), the rayon adds some drapiness to the mix.
Bamboo jersey. Drool. So lush. It always seems to be medium weight, spongy, opaque, and doesn’t stretch out through the day. Worth the money. Kristin tells me that modal knit is equally lovely. Brits seem to talk about modal knits more than we do in North America – is it a linguistic difference or a matter of what is available?
French terry. Not all french terries are rayon – more often they are pure cotton, or cotton spandex. Rayon french terry though is soft, drapey, with 4 way stretch and amazing stretch recovery. If you want to make a cosy “wine cardigan” or fancy track pants, this is the fabric for you.
Rayon-poly-blend double knits. As with jerseys, adding even a bit of rayon to a double knit or ponte gives with weight, drape, and makes it slightly less likely to pill.
If you aren’t convinced yet, here are a few of my favourite projects I’ve sewn in rayon knits!
- Jalie Bella dress
- Swingy pink and blue tanks
- Striped summer swing dress with giant pockets
- Striped Saltpsing dress
- Floral Nettie/Tiramisu mashup
- Mission Maxi/Tiramisu maxi
- Pavlova wrap top
- Asymmetrical tops
- Bamboo and rayon Comino Cap dresses
(Uh, did I say “a few”? It was hard to narrow it down even this much!)
I love rayon knits – How about you? Have you used them much before? Have you had any different experiences than I have? Feel free to add your 2 cents!