Thursday, December 06, 2012
Rayon Challis: Cut & Sew
I vow to not use the term High-Wet-Modulus anywhere in today's lesson. And that is because when it comes to the cutting and sewing of Rayon Challis, we have reached the easy part. Hooray! Let's get to it.
Like any project it's a good idea to start with clean, sharp cutting tools whether that be a rotary cutter or dress shears. I might put Rayon slightly higher on the scale of likely to snag than cotton, which is almost impossible to snag, actually. So, sharp is good. That also goes for your straight pins. Save some nice, fine, sharp straight pins for your Rayon projects and do not use your giant, dull, quilting pins that have poked through batting and spray basting goo for the last 5 years. Don't deny it. You will likely want to pin a garment pattern to Rayon, even when maybe otherwise you would use weights alone or your lucky stars to start cutting. The same qualities that make it drapey and fluid also make it want to slide off the table. I actually find the Rayon to have more of a "tooth" to it than Voile though, so it lays against itself in place better than I think Voile does. So when you are folding it over itself to cut a pattern on fold, you'll have an easier time keeping in place.
needle & thread::
Like most any lighter-weight materials, you'll want to use a universal machine needle, size 11, that is fresh and sharp. In fact you might want to keep it changed out a little sooner than you might with your cotton materials. I will offer that I think Rayon is a little slower to recover from dull needle holes than a cotton would be, but a good pressing can remedy that.
I also recommend Coats Dual Duty XP General Purpose which is a smooth, polyester corespun thread. A material that is semi-synthetic should err on the side of fully synthetic thread. I think you'll notice how beautifully the fabrics allow the right needle and thread to sink right into the thickness of the material. It feels as though these fabrics want to be sewn more than they are being told to be sewn, if that makes any sense. Sorry, that was weird, but for real.
Anytime you bring in a fabric that is a little different than what you or machine settings are used to, there might be some adjustment to tension, stitch length, and even presser foot tension if your machine offers that (I apologize for the spoiled brat that Janome has made me). For me to presume I can figure out your particular machine from here would be, well, presumptuous. However, if you had to make adjustments when you went from quilting cotton to Voile, you might guess Rayon to be somewhere between those two settings. Just a hunch.
The slight grabbi-ness that Rayon tends to have to itself, as mentioned with the cutting notes, helps you out at the machine, keeping pieces in place as you sew. Like many fabrics as you guide it through the machine, it will tend to give more on the width than on the length, so keep that in mind and don't over-stretch through the presser foot as you work horizontally across the fabric, for instance at a hem or a neck line.
What I think you will really enjoy is how multiple layers of this material act more like thicker fabric than they act like bulk. For instance in the cuff edge of the sleeve above, the shirred edge of the sleeved is encased in four more layers of a bound cuff edge, yet it only provides stability and the top stitching that is holding it all together sinks right in beautifully and marries itself to the weave of the fabric. For that reason it acts as a really great self facing. In fact if you had the choice between using an interfacing or a second layer of Rayon I would go with the Rayon. An interfacing would rarely behave like the rayon would in it's fluidity and give itself away by being more visibly rigid on your body. If there were specific reason you needed a fusible interfacing, use a woven one.
I do not find these fabrics to fray to much at all, they are similar to the Voile in that sense, so if you normally serge or finish your edges or if you don't, just carry on.
I really hope I'm not forgetting anything in regards to sewing with these, and nothing compares to your first-hand experience. I'll be back tomorrow with a closer look at a few projects to inspire just that. I'll also take a look back through some of your questions to make sure I've addressed everything.