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Tips & Techniques > Working with knits, particularly rayon knits

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Posted by: Ruth C

About Ruth C star
Member since: 12/27/02
Reviews: 22 (tips: 1)
Skill level:Intermediate
Favored by: 1 people
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Posted on: 5/8/04 3:21 PM
Review Rating: Helpful by 3 people   Very Helpful by 11 people   
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I've recently been making t-shirts with a rayon/lycra knit and learned a few things that I want to pass on as they may help others. I got the knit from FFC. It is periwinkle (my favorite color) and rather inexpensive so I purchased a lot (thank goodness). The first top I made did not work and ended up in the circular file, but the second is just what I wanted.

In making the first top, I forgot that rayon is heavy so a knit expands downwards. I know to hang the finished garment for several days before heming to allow for this, but I didn't realize it also effects darts. I need a full bust adjustment with a dart in all my tops and I made a side dart in this top. I did move the dart up a little from it's usual position, based on a trial fitting, but not enough. The day I wore the top to work (luckily under a blazer) the dart had moved down and by the end of the day, it's position was way below my bust! Unfortuantely, the knit is very fine and an attempted alteration would show.

On the second top, I moved the dart to the armhole and shortened it some--so it would has room to lengthen. Worked great!

The other thing I learned involves laying out the pattern. front and back are laid on folds, so the fabric must be laid out with the two selvages folded into the center. The knit is so fine that it is next to impossible to see the ribs to make sure it is folded straight. On the first top I used a tape measure trying to make sure it was folded evenly--I got extremely frustrated as it seemed to always be changing its shape (it is extremely strechy).

On the second top I got creative. I lined up one selvage with the edge of my cutting table and let the other fall off the opposite edge (Yes, I know this distorts the fabric, but if it is all distorted the same way, it doesn't matter). My table is 30 in. wide and the fabric was 60 in. so I knew the center was approximately at the table's edge. I then very gentlely smoothed out the wrinkles and made sure no part was stressed any more that any other. Next I went down the fabric putting pins in every few inches at the table's edge. Now I had a line I could easily fold the selvages to. When I did, it appeared that the ribs (what I could make out) were straight along that fold line. Cutting out was then very simple.

Others may already know this, but I feel as though a light bulb went off in my brain!

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carebare1 said... (10/30/15 4:57 AM) Reply
Thank you. I can sympathize with layout... it takes forever for knits trying to get straight grain. This last project I just tried matching the design ( zigzag stripes).. as any other ways just made me crazy.
Barb A said... (7/23/13 9:45 AM) Reply
Thanks for the great tip! I'm a new sewer and bought this rayon jersey to make a tee in a Craftsy class. Probably bad decision. As you said, my first attempt is close to going in the "circular file" too, but I'm trying to save it :-) Cutting was difficult for exactly reasons you said, and add 2 cats to the mix and it's enough to make me crazy lol. Any tips you have on stitches, notions to use with rayon jersey? Thanks in advance everyone!
Athene said... (10/23/07 11:06 PM) Reply
Thank you very much for the very helpful review. I am making a copy of this to keep in my sewing room.
JDpenelope said... (2/21/05 12:12 PM) Reply
Ruth, Thanks so much for this tip. I just bought some rayon/lycra knit and am so glad to be forewarned.
maryfrana said... (6/8/04 11:53 AM) Reply
I think I have the same fabric -- bought on sale from FFC. Same color. Unfortunately I just cut it out (after a mighty struggle) before reading this review. Many thanks for the tip on the darts too. I'll sew it up and hope for the best. This review is so helpful!
sewywabbit said... (5/20/04 5:38 PM) Reply
Ruth I used to have this same problem with Tencel and now I only buy it if it blended with something else. I wonder if the knit still grows as much if lycra is added.
ClaireC said... (5/9/04 8:50 AM) Reply
Thank you for this tip. I bought some of that fabric from FFC (love the color). I will definitely use this tip when I get around to cutting out.
GorgeousFabrics said... (5/9/04 7:11 AM) Reply
I have some rayon jersey that I am just about ready to cut out. Your tip is timely and very helpful, thanks! -Ann
Ruth C said... (5/8/04 8:55 PM) Reply
Remember also that armholes will strech down in a rayon knit, so cut them higher than usual.
Danvillegirl said... (5/8/04 5:36 PM) Reply
I wish I had this tip when I cut out the top I just reviewed. But will definitely use it for the next top. I truly know but did not think about rayon knit stretching so, but it does and your top is very timely and helpful.
PVA said... (5/8/04 4:43 PM) Reply
Thank you, Ruth, I've been on a "mission" for a few weeks, trying to perfect the fit for a classic t-shirt and I think I'm getting close! ( 8^D ) Since I plan to use a rayon/lycra blend, this review is going to be very helpful. My cutting table is also 60", and your method of finding the exact center of the 60" wide fabric is just right for my project. Thanks again!
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