Tips and tricks to handle rayon challis or viscose material when sewing
Hey y’all, today we’re going to talk about one of my favorite woven fabrics for clothing, rayon fabric, or more specifically rayon challis (pronounced ˈsha-lē ). Remember when we talk about fabric, we are talking about both the fiber and the method of construction. In this case the fiber is rayon, which might also be referred to as viscose, Lyocell or modal. Challis refers to the construction, which is tightly woven and lightweight. Rayon knit fabrics are in an entirely different category, and I have a post about them here.
Rayon fibers are made of cellulose, or plant pulp. Through processing this pulp is turned into threads that can be woven. So while this is a man made fiber, it is plant based. Because it is plant based and lightweight, rayon challs is breathable, soft, and has beautiful drape.
In the video below I share my best tips for working with rayon challis. You can also watch on YouTube here if it won’t load below.
Ten Tips for Sewing Rayon Fabric
- Prewash your fabric. I wash in cold and tumble dry low
- Finish your edges before prewashing to prevent fraying. You can overlock (serge) the edges or fold the cut edges together and stitch them together very close to the edge, then cut off your stitching line after washing.
- Press with starch before cutting out your garment.
- Choose your pattern wisely. Rayon challis is great for flowing, draped garments, not structured garments.
- Consider using a rotary cutter to cut out your pattern.
- Consider cutting out your pattern on a single layer of fabric. This may mean tracing patterns cut on the fold or laying pattern
- Consider changing your needle. A smaller needle, such as a 70/10 size, will work better. If your fabric is getting runs or snags, also consider using a microsharp needle.
- Reduce your stitch length. Thinner fabric = shorter stitch lengths.
- Reduce presser foot pressure if you can. Thinner fabric = less presser needed from presser foot.
- Hang garment, preferably overnight, before hemming so that you can even hem based on fabric drape.