Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Rayon Challis: Wash, Press & Plan

Well hullo there.  Your friendly neighborhood Rayon Challis field agent is back with some wash and wear news to report :-)

the wash::
I started but cutting 3 different 1/2 yard lengths of fabric from the same bolt.  And btw this fabric is about 56" wide.  I left piece 1 alone.  I washed pieces 2 and 3 together on a "delicate" cycle which on my machine is about 40 min long, with cold wash, cold rinse, and low spin speed.  I also just used a standard detergent, nothing special.

the dry::
Once the wash cycle was complete, I put piece 2 in the dryer on a "delicate" dry which is simply a lower heat dry.  I let damp piece 3 just hang out over the clothing rack for a while to dry for about 20 minutes. 

the press::
I then dry pressed the remaining dampness out of the hang-drying piece 3 until it was warm and dry which didn't really take any longer than regular pressing.  The iron was set on the wool setting, and I was willing to try a little higher if necessary but never had too.  The wrinkles fell out beautifully for both the damp piece and the one that wasn't washed at all on the same wool setting.  Also the pressing did not seem to change the surface of the material in the least either in color, sheen, or texture.  When piece 3 was pulled out of the dryer it was in need of a pressing so with the same setting I glided those wrinkles right out too.

the shrinkage::
The difference between the 3 pieces was barely distinguishable even after the various forms of care in terms of shrinkage.  There was of course some fraying on the cut edges of the washed pieces, but not bad at all, maybe 1/8"-1/4" at the most in some places.  Also the washed pieces did draw up at the selvages on each end like most all fabrics do.  So before cutting out a pattern from the material you would want to snip into the selvage edges to avoid any distortion as your pattern pieces get close to those edges.  If there was any slight shrinkage it was only on the piece 2 that was also placed in the dryer, but it was so minimal it's barely worth mentioning.

We are expecting to begin shipping these fabrics from our shop next week sometime, and they will be arriving to other shops about the same time or sooner.  (If you're a shop owner carrying the Rayons and would like to leave your link here, please do so in the comments.)  I am still looking into exact price but I think it is somewhere in the 14-15$ per yard range, so similar in price to the voile.  These will be the only Rayons for the Field Study collection, and we do still have a bit of velveteen to look forward to as well.

I want to chat a bit more about project planning and expectations for this fabric.  As already shown, the material is gorgeous for many, many items of clothing.  I can't really think of any of my garment sewing patterns that they wouldn't work well for.  The above is a version of my free Museum Tunic tutorial with the added bonus of adding some ribbon to the shoulders for some interest across the back.  Nice and dramatic, no? The ribbon is positioned on the shoulders just to the back side of the shoulder seams, and the extension of the ribbon across the back is faced with the same ribbon from the inner side.  All of the ribbon was simply applied with topstitching at the end of the dress sewing.  For any garment that you would want to wear over tights, I would expect the material to be slightly grab-y to your tights especially if they are the thicker cotton-y sort.  But you might be fine with no lining or slip, or if your tights are the slicker variety.

This is really the first fabric I have designed for that is very strictly intended for clothing, but that shouldn't stop you from experimenting.  I don't really see it working for bags, because although it isn't really thin, it is more fluid that I think you would want which could translate to a little flimsy when you want some body.  Quilts?  I'm on the fence.  I'm not sure that rayon is really the feel that I want for a quilt.  As long as the other materials you used in the quilt are similar in how they wash up, if you're into it, go for it.  Embroidery?  Certainly, but here are two considerations. You always want the threads and the fabric to be compatible in terms of their care when you embroider.  In other words you need them to react the same to any cleaning process, so that the shape of the work is not changed or distorted.  I definitely think that cotton floss or pearle and Rayon is worth experimenting with, but try to use the finest needle you can.  The other consideration with embroidery is that Rayon is not especially elastic, I don't mean in the stretchy sense but in the shape retention sense.  Even woven cotton has a good shape retention that it will bounce back to after it's been stretched.  Rayon, not quite as much, unless of course you wash it.  So any stretching into a hoop, would likely need to be remedied with a water washing process.

Okay.  I have duly talked your heads off here.  I love fabric.  Really love fabric.
Tomorrow, we will get all cut-stitch-sew-y with it!
holluh. xoAM


  1. I am excited about using your rayon fabrics for blouses and dresses!!!

  2. I used rayon challis in a quilting/ home decor project in my teenage sewing (my first foray into picking fabric without Mom's supervision:)) & I wouldn't recommend it. The fluidity & lack of elasticity were not ideal for such a project. My guess is these are issues you would anticipate but may not have actually experimented with. Yay for Rayon Challis!

  3. Oh my, rayon challis, the working woman's silk. In the 90's I made many items of clothing with rayon challis. I did so love that fabric. So happy to hear you are applying your AMH touch to this delicious weavel Thank you, and I can't wait to see it!

  4. Love the fabric and making some hot cocoa to get the day started. ;). Hope you enjoy some too.

  5. I'm learning I'm learning! I love this Rayon Challis class! I made clothes before I ever ventured into quiltland and this is pulling me back into wanting to make clothes again. Thank you! I'm excited! I have visions of rayon challis skirts dancing in my head!

  6. May I compliment you not only on the beautiful designs and colorways of your newest fabric, but also on the truly generous delivery of information about this fabric.

    I cannot recall ever seeing such a wealth of helpful information anywhere else...ever!

    Best wishes.

  7. This series you are doing on rayon challis is awesome! I'm so looking forward to hearing about sewing techniques. Thank you!!

  8. I'm a bit confused now! Is this fabric a knit or woven one? It looks so much like jersey in the pictures?

    1. It is a woven fabric! But it does in a way appear to drape like a knit :)

  9. is carrying all of Anna's Field Study Rayon Challis fabrics. They are so soft and have an incredible drape!

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  15. This series you are doing on rayon challis is awesome!

  16. OK, so I just bought two yards of this to make a shirt but I thought it voile! Then I saw on the sales receipt, duh, Rayon Challis! Actually, I think I like it better as it will have a little more sturdiness to it and looks like it doesn't need to be pre-shrunk? I'll go read your other posts first. :)

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