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How to : sew rayon or silk fabrics

Rayon fabrics are often very scary to sew! I have long been afraid to sew them, as I didn’t take time to look at how I could facilitate this task. Today, thanks to some advice and experience, I love these fabrics!
In this article, I will give you the keys to easily sew rayon or silk fabrics! Are you ready? Let’s go!

  • Choosing your pattern

Start with small projects to experience this kind of fabrics before. Don’t start with a big dress project for the first time, because you risk to demotivate yourself. Start for example by a tank top or something simple regarding the construction. Whether it is for the time spent, or for the cost of the fabric, it is best to train a bit before!

  • Gathering materials

When sewing this kind of fabric, it is important to have the right material, to make it easier for you. So here is the list.

–  Fine tipped pins

Larger pins can leave holes in your fabricI recommend you to use super-fine sharp pins when working with this kind of fabric. Moreover, you can sew more easily with the machine but also iron with these pins.

Small sewing needles

Just like the pins, the sewing needles are very important as they could make holes in your fabric! It is therefore important to choose specific needles for sewing rayon like 65/9, or 70/10 maximum, Of course, everything will also depend on the thickness of your fabric.

Use a cutting board and a rotary cutter

If you usually use sewing scissors, be aware that the cutting board and the rotary cutter are the easiest to cut rayon fabrics. It is totally possible to cut with scissors of course, but this other technique will make the process easier for you!

– Interfacing

If your project requires the use of interfacing, now that fusible sheerweight interfacing works perfectly and will not effect the drape of the rayon. Do not use the same thickness as you use for cotton fabric!

Fabric starch!

This is the advice I have been given and which has changed my life completely! You can find this product in spray in sewing shops, but also in supermarkets and it will stabilise your fabric and give it a little less drape, making it easier to lay it out straight and get your pattern pieces into place. After that, it will be easier for you to sew it. In addition, this product goes away completely after washing. 

  • Tips for prepping and sewing

– #1 : Pre-wash your fabric

This is a rule that should be respected for all fabrics but especially for rayon fabrics ! The reason? They shrink! Imagine spending several hours sewing a project, and once washed it is way too small? The worst drama of the seamstress! So it’s best to wash your fabric before you even cut it. Personally I prefer to dry my fabrics outside rather than using the dryer.

–  #2 : Spray starch your fabric

Simply spray the starch on your fabric and wait for it to dry. You could iron your fabric to speed up the process. You will see that your fabric will be much more stabilised, which will greatly facilitate the sewing process. –  #3 : Spread your fabric on the table for the cut

It is important to use the largest table possible, or even the floor! Everything will depend on the size of your project, but the fabric must be flat, all along. This way, it will remain straight and in place for the cut. You can use tissue paper sheets between your fabric and the table, which will hold it in place and limit movement when you cut. Personally, I prefer to cut my fabric in different parts : first the bodice, then the skirt, then the sleeves if I make a dress. This way, I work with smaller pieces, which is easier to cut.

– #4 : Line up selvedge to the edge of the cutting board

To prevent your fabric from moving and some parts not being cut properly, it is advisable to pins the edges of the entire fabric.

– #5 : Lay flat your pieces once cut, or roll them

Rayon fabric or silk tend to stretch very quickly. Once you’ve cut your pieces, you have two solutions : either you lay them gently flat, or you can roll them. This will minimize this effect. This also applies during the sewing process!

– #6 : Use a smaller stitch length

It is best to use a 2mm seam when sewing as it will prevent the fabric from gathering.  And because rayon can fray easily, the smaller stitch will help prevent any fraying going beyond the seam line, which will give you nicer finishes.

– #7 : Do not pull or push your fabric

Take your time when sewing this kind of fabrics, but do not pull your project when you are sewing! As mentioned above, rayon fabric tends to stretch easily, so it is necessary to sew slowly, and not hesitate to adjust the different parts during the process.

– #8 : French seams

Rayon fabrics tend to fray a lot, and it is not always nice to have an overlock seam on the inner seams. If possible, I would advise you to make french seams when you can, as it will male your project beautiful outside … and inside!

 #9 : Rolled hem

If your project includes a ruffle, I advise you to sew a rolled hem with your serger to finish it instead of a thin hem. This will be much easier for you to sew , but in addition the fabric will not be weighed down by the hem. # 10: Choose a thin bias

If your project requires a bias as a finish either for the armholes or for the neckline, I advise you to use a very thin bias to be sure that it won’t stiffen your fabric. If you can, it is even better to make your own  bias in the original fabric, or use a Liberty bias as they are very thin.

– # 11: Ironing Secrets

As always in sewing, the ironing part is very important for the success of a project. To iron delicate fabrics, I advise you two things : first, it is necessary that your iron is not too hot! Prefer a medium temperature.
Also, avoid going back and forth over the fabric, as this can cause the fabric to stretch out. This tip is especially important when finishing hems as you could end up with wavy hems. Prefer lift and press instead. 

– # 12: Hang your project before sewing the hem

You’ve already heard it, rayon fabrics tend to stretch, which can be catastrophic for your hem! I experienced it with my Betty dress from Sew Over It : the hem, sewn too early, was totally uneven! It is advisable to suspend your project for 24 hours, especially if it has been sewn into the bias (such as the Deer & Doe Réglisse dress) before sewing the bottom hem. Afterwards, prefer to fold your project rather than suspend it.

– # 13: Make a mark seam for the hem

To make it easier for you to sew the bottom hem of your project, I advise you to make a seam that will serve as a mark to fold your project. For example, if you need to remove 3 cm for your hem, make a seam 1.5 cm from the edge, fold at that point and sew your hem. This way you will be sure that your hem is similar. However, for rayon or silk fabrics, prefer to make very small hem in order to keep the beautiful drape of your fabric.#14 : Avoid projects with buttonholes!

Another tip from my own experience … I’ve made the Sylphide dress from Papercut Patterns several years ago : I chose a very nice rayon fabric and as the skirt was cut into the bias, the buttonholes were a very bad idea! As you can see on the picture, the hem of the skirt looks uneven, and this is due to the weight of the button placket and buttons.

And here it is! I hope this article will have helped you, and please, don’t hesitate to tell me what you thought of it! Happy sewing to you all!



Comments

  • 15 May 2017
    reply

    Merci pour toutes ces techniques, j’ai justement un projet en cours avec un tissu viscose. Par contre, il était prévu des boutonnières sur mon projet… A ton avis, des pressions ça passerait ?

  • 16 May 2017
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    Catherine

    Merci pour ces conseils, j’adore la viscose, mais c’est difficile à coudre… je vais essayer l’amidon et le cutter rotatif.

  • 17 May 2017
    reply

    Merci, merci pour cet article! J’ai plusieurs coupons de viscise en réserve, qui attendent leur heure, mais je n’ose pas couper dedans. Grâce à cet article, je me sens un peu plus armée!

  • 17 May 2017
    reply
    CAROLE

    Merci Anna pour cet article ! Comme tu parles des coutures anglaises, tu pourrais nous en dire plus sur leur réalisation ? J’ai déjà pensé à essayer mais une petite explication ne serait pas de trop !

  • 19 May 2017
    reply

    Merci ! je crois que j’ai compris d’où venait ces horribles fronces sur la couture côté de ma Mélilot ! je vais retenter avec une longueur de point plus courte comme tu le préconises, j’ai laissé tombé ce projet à cause de cela.

  • 28 May 2017
    reply

    Merci pour tes conseils, mes tentatives en viscoses ont été relativement réussies… Mais j’en ai une dont j’ai vraiment honte des finitions, l’intérieur s’effiloche, une catastrophe ! Donc pour une prochaine réalisation : coutures anglaises !!!

  • 28 May 2017
    reply

    Merci pour tous ces conseils ! J’ai toujours peur de coudre des tissus fluides et légers. J’ai noté plusieurs petits trucs que je ne connaissais et que j’appliquerai à mon prochain projet !

  • 1 June 2017
    reply
    Hermine Bleue

    Merci Anna pour tous ces conseils ! j’avoue ne pas coudre souvent ce type de tissu : par gout, je leur préfère le coton et les tissus qui ont de la tenue !
    mais quand cela m’arrive, je commence par fixer un drap (de coton ;-)) sur ma table. ainsi, pas de glissade en vue !

  • 2 June 2017
    reply

    Super merci pour toutes ces infos !

  • 7 June 2017
    reply

    Bonjour !
    Merci pour ces précieuses informations ! Je me lance dans la magnifique robe cambie en viscose (amidon, tiens toi prêt !)
    Par contre j’ai besoin de vos lumières, car je ne comprend rien au tableau des tailles en anglais même avec la conversion en cm : je correspond à 3 tailles complètement différentes alors que d’habitude en taille française, je suis un 38 exact…
    Merci d’avance !

  • 13 June 2017
    reply
    Geuns Maguy

    Merci à vous. J’ai un projet de pantalon que je remets à plus tard. L’amidon, je vais tester. Belle journée.

  • 13 March 2018
    reply

    bonjour, un énorme merci pour cet article qui va me faciliter la vie pour mes prochains projets couture de tissus fluides; je ne connaissais pas la technique de l’amidon et je n’aurais pas osé couper mon tissu au cutter; bref pleins de petits trucs à connaitre, c’est génial; merci beaucoup

  • 3 April 2018
    reply
    Jenn

    Bonjour

    Chouette article 😉

    Quel est le patron de la robe saumon ??

  • 1 August 2018
    reply
    armelle

    merci pour ces informations, je suis en train de réaliser deux robes en viscose pour ma belle fille, patron très simple genre t-shirt, je ne travaille jamais ce genre de tissu trop difficile pour moi c’est donc la galère et je ne connaissais pas le truc de l’amidon , c’est surtout le surfilage qui me pose problème impossible de régler ma surjeteuse, je regrette une seule chose ne pas vous avoir lu avant de coudre!
    merci de vos conseils

  • 30 April 2019
    reply
    Nathalie

    Bonjour, merci pour vos précieux conseils.
    Je suis sur la couture d’une robe dont je dois surfiler chaque partie. Le hic c’est que cela fronce le tissu quand je le surfile. Que faire contre ça? Merci par avance.

  • 19 May 2019
    reply
    Eulalie

    Merci pour ces tuyaux! effectivement l’amidon c’eSt Magique! PersO, j’apprehende Toujours la couture de ces matieres fines… niveau reglage machine, je Vais essayer avec une longueur plus courte, et pOur la tension vous auriez un conseil a me donner? J’ai tendance a avoir des points de couture « lachent ». Merci encore pour vos conseils!

  • 19 August 2019
    reply
    Therese Lavallee

    Bonjour ,Merci beaucoup conseils trés utile par contre je veux m’attaquer a coudre du satin chose que je n’ai pas encore faite pouvez vous me donner quelques conseils comme le point de la machine ,la grosseur de l aiguille ,et comment puis je faire pour copier mon patron sur le tissu sans épingles.Dois je aussi laver le satin et l’amidonner avant repassage si il y a lieu.Je pose beaucoup de question mais j ‘ai envie de réalisé ce petit costume en satin pour ma petite fille .Merci beaucoup si vous pouviez me repondre. tH2R7SE

  • 5 February 2020
    reply

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