Monday, December 10, 2012

Rayon Challis: Adventuring


So by see you tomorrow, as I closed my last Rayon Challis post, I of course meant today.  You knew that.  The weather was so gray on Friday that I hesitated to take any photos.  Today is even more gray.  So be it.  Here is the rayon infinity scarf that Anna Michelle was modeling here.  This material is lovely for these scarf shapes because it is sooo drapey, almost shawl like really.  So you could definitely take it that direction too, cut large, squares, triangles, etc.


Perhaps more than any other fabric that I have designed myself, this Rayon has inspired me to be very adventurous with material combinations and silhouettes.  I was particularly interested in working some wool yarns with this scarf to give it that extra nudge towards wintery.  Let me mention too, that the scarf is 3 different sections of Rayon, that are individually doubled over and finished on all edges (essentially like a pillow cover). I then joined them to each other by way of various forms of stiching and crochet.  The crochet elements are anchored to the material by first making a blanket stitch in the Rayon rectangle edges.  The concept is similar to the class I teach on Creative Bug here.  So in the above detail you can see that I took a few rows of double crochet with a few different colors of wool.


In joining this pair of fabrics, I simply used a baseball stitch to join them, no crochet at all.


And this joining sprouted a few crochet scallops.  All of this was done with a ribbon embroidery needle, which I used simply because the eye is large enough to thread the wools and the tip is sharp enough to pierce the Rayon.  There was a bit of tugging to get the wool through every now and then, however no snagging because the needle was nice and sharp.  These wools are actually some of my upcoming collection of Tapestry Wool palettes (just like what you would use for needlepoint) and they have so many uses beyond just tapestry.  Yay.  Can't wait!

More adventuring.  I've been hanging on to a gorgeous piece of vintage cotton lace for a while and finally decided to use it in the front yoke portion of the Painted Portrait Blouse.  The use of that lace inspired collaging in a few others, because it was just one smallish rectangle with finished/frayed edges.  I didn't want its singular use with the fabric to appear like a simple doily attached to a ready-made piece of clothing, so I felt mixing it up with other laces was in order.


You can see here where the old lace meets the new at that rough overlapped edge. (I just zig-zgged it onto the new lace fabric at the edge, then cut the pattern piece from the joined pieces.)


And by new lace I mean this:  I actually had a really hard time finding a compatible cream shade of lace by the yard.  However there were tons of inexpensive lace trim options.  So it occurred to me to just buy plenty of trim and turn it into fabric.  The stripes created in the design of the back yoke actually appear because they are separate strips of lace trim.


Again, I zig-zagged the scalloped edge of the lace over the top of the straight edge of the lace to make continuous material before cutting the pattern pieces from it.  I set the pieces at a slight angle, so that the seam in the center back of the yoke would create a deep V which is really pretty and flattering.  There were really no tricks involved with sewing the lace and Rayon together, it worked out beautifully.  In fact I didn't line the yoke as the pattern calls for, so that took a few steps out as well.  I did topstitch and otherwise finished edges of the lace to prevent fraying.


There was a specific question from Darby that I wanted to answer that came up last week, here it is:

I really love Rayon and it would be my first choice to wear constantly. However I really struggle with finishing sleeveless tops /dresses or necklines. I have tried binding - terrible! And in the end sewed it (carefully) and folded a small hem over. I had to be careful of stretching, but more so of puckering as the neck and armhole are more on the bias. Would love to know your thoughts on finishing these . I don't like flippy facings, have thought a partial bodice lining or a rolled hem??? Can't wait to get my hands on some of your new Rayon Challis-beautiful! When will it be released?

Dearest Darby, my favorite method for finishing necklines, sleeves and even hems has worked out really well for the Rayons as well.  You might have meant that when you mentioned "binding" but I'll describe my method and see if it helps.  I cut a bias strip of the same material in a width that is about 3 times wider that the seam allowance of the hemming will be.  So if you were to finish the edge with a 3/8" seam allowance your bias should be about 1 1/8" wide.  If you are sewing a neckline, leave one of the shoulders open then sew the binding right sides together along the entire edge of the neckline keeping their raw edges in line, using a 3/8" seam allowance.  Press seam allowance towards bias.  Sew remaining shoulder seam shut including the bias in the seam, and press open.  Trim any excess bias that extends beyond the shoulder seam allowances.  Turn the wrong side of the bias towards the neckline seam and over the neck seam allowance, then turn all down once more so that you've completely encased the raw edges and they are laying against the wrong side of the neckline and not visible from the right side at all.  Topstitch using a scant 3/8" seam allowance (or right at the edge of the folded bias) and press.


You can see the result of that very process on the lace blouse turned inside out above.  I wanted a clean finish on the lace edge so I just used a solid cotton to make a bias edging.  The only variable in this process is how snug you tug the bias as you sew.... with a bit of practice you'll know just the tension you should place on the bias to get a smooth, unpuckered result from the fabric at the neckline.  Most all of my patterns recommend this type of edging at sleeves and unlined necklines.  It gives just enough body for the edges to stay crisp, and without the pucker of a simple rolled hem.  For hems along the bottom that are mostly cut on grain, a rolled hem is fine, but the above method works great too.  There was another question about making a more tailored hem, and I would suggest trying the blind hem stitch on your machine if it offers it.  Here's a link to how that works from my friends at Janome.

We will be shipping Rayon later this week from our online shop and of course check with your favorite local retailer!

I hope this helps!  I have really enjoyed getting down and dirty with Rayon Challis.  If you have any other questions, or if I've missed one already asked (sorry!), please just put them in the comments, and you can look for my reply there.

Happy Sewing!  xo, Anna Maria


  1. Thank you for specifically addressing my question, it is much appreciated :-) my previous experience with binding the sleeve (I gave up after two attempts didn't work!) was with shop purchased bias binding and to be honest it was cotton? Yes, makes sense it wouldn't work :-). Have always been a bit hesitant to cut my own from self fabric, thanks for your tips and how to, I will be more confident to give it a go! Thanks for giving me the heads up on shipping, I know what I'll be buying myself for Christmas. Beautiful designs, I hope it won't be your last in Rayon Challis. I am a huge fan, I have textile dreams of my own for one day in the future. Love reading your blog too.

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  2. ok. that lace trim turned fabric? genius and gorgeous!

  3. Oh I love the concept of leaving the shoulder seam open. Brilliant!! I must try this. Love these fabrics Anna!!


  4. That pieced lace is genius! I always find that you are right on trend with sewing clothes, fabrics, etc. Everywhere I look lately, the whole back of a top or just the front portion is lace. It will be fun to try this with my portrait blouse. I just have a hard time deciding on the fabric~ all so gorgeous!!