Sewing with Rayon 101

Are you ready to branch out beyond sewing with quilting cotton? Last week Jaime shared the details on Sewing with Knit Fabric and today Jessica from Sew Homegrown is here to share the basics of Sewing with Rayon. With designers like Amy Butler launching rayon collections, it’s so tempting to jump into sewing with this gorgeous draping fabric. With just a few basic skills you can sew lovely items in rayon like Jessica’s Anthro-Inspired Headband(above), our Sleep Shorts or the Baby Peasant Blouse or Long Sleeve Peasant Dress. And not to leave out the mamas, how about the Freestyle Hot Mess Mommy Dress or Jessica’s recent Simple Cardi? Read on to get the scoop on Sewing with Rayon and see more rayon-friendly projects to get you started!

Peasant Blouse

Sleep Shorts

Freestyle Hot Mess Mommy Dress

Modern Prairie Dress

Hey Prudent Baby readers! I’m here today to talk to you about rayon.

When I first discovered rayon I had many questions – such as:
What do people make out of rayon? Why do people sew with rayon?  Is it difficult to work with? 
Well hopefully I can answer those questions and more in this post. I am certainly no world-expert on rayon, but I have used it in several projects and I always love the outcome! 
Rayon is often used to sew clothing. Those gorgeous drapey skirts and blouses we love?  Many of them are made out of rayon.  I’ve also seen a few sets of rayon window treatments such as these at Anthropologie.
So why use it?  Because of that gorgeous drape. You suddenly have the freedom to  create a look that simply cannot be attained using cotton.
So…is it difficult to work with?  Not really.  I was talking to the lady at my fabric store and she said it’s one of her favorite fabrics to sew with. But hopefully these will make it easier – and that’s what we all want right?  Right.
Let’s start with supplies: 

You can sew rayon using a universal needle (the one that came on your machine), but you will find it easier to use an extra sharp ball point needle – a 75/11 or 80/11.

It is best to use a polyester thread or a poly blend.  Poly is similar to rayon and so it works better with it than cotton thread does.

Next let’s talk about care:
okay so I never wash my fabrics first – I am way too impatient for that – BUT with rayon it is a very important thing to do. Rayon is very prone to shrinking and since you are likely making clothing you don’t want those adorable p.j.’s you just spent 3 hrs sewing to shrink up.  You can wash it with like colors on cold or warm and tumble dry low.  Use an iron on the wrong side on low and test it in a small corner first – you also don’t want to fry those p.j.’s with the iron.

After you wash it, you’ll probably notice that rayon ravels easily.

So here’s another thing you’ll have to do – finish the raw edges of your seams. 
You can either do this by zig-zagging or serging them.  If you skip this step, the fabric could unravel so much that your seams come undone – that’s the last thing you want as you’re bending over trying to keep your kid from eating a squished grape off the sidewalk.  Just sayin.
Lastly – since rayon so wonderfully flows through your fingers, you may find it difficult to construct the bodice of a dress or the neckline of a tunic.  That’s when you will need some interfacing.  I love French Fuse when sewing with rayon, because it is very soft and light.  It won’t ruin the drape of your fabric, but will provide enough stability to support the construction of your garment.
So hey, that doesn’t seem too bad does it? As always, it’s been a pleasure to be here today, and happy sewing! xoxo, Jessica

PJ Pants
Long Sleeve Peasant Dress




Good tips. My struggle with rayon is on the cutting table. Any tips for keeping things in place on the cutting table while cutting out your pattern?


Thank you I think. I have not branched out much into different types of fabrics, but I just ordered 4 yards of rayon. I will be rereading this post when my fabric is delivered!


What I have read about cutting on slippery fabrics, is to lay a bed sheet down first, then a single layer of your rayon, pattern piece is cut one layer at a time.
The bed sheet keeps the fabric in place so that you are able to cut.


Belinda – I would simply suggest lots and lots of weights. Lay your fabric on the table then place staplers/pincushions/books whatever to hold it in place. Sometimes I cut it on a hardwood floor, but I know that's not a very practical solution. Good luck!


Hi Jessica,
I just found your site and you have great instructions but the only question I have is when you use the french fuse interface do you just place it on the edge? or on the whole fabric piece?

thank you


Thanks so much for writing about Rayon!I have purchased tons of fabric for projects but they keep getting ruined…after reading your webpage I know what I am doing wrong…thanks again. :)

Rosie B

I have myself prepared to making a rayon sundress. Thanks so much for your tips. However, I would be interested in any tips for sewing a zipper on rayon fabric. Your site has the best tips I have found!

S. Schell

Recently returned from Hawaii, purchased some beautiful rayon tropical fabric squares (8″ each) and I’m thinking of making a quilt. There are 100-300 pieces and many are matching. I will launder them first, use a new 75/11 ball point needle, and polyester thread. Any other suggestions? What would be a backing? Do I stay with rayon for the backing? Thank you. Susan


I’m hemming a dress. And it’s impossible!! The tension is freaking me out! There’s no in between. I’ve tried on sample pieces, but when I put the dress in there, it bubbles and bunches and loops. I don’t know what to do! Should I try and put a piece of interfacing in it??


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