Rayon, the oldest manufactured fiber, produces some of the most contemporary clothes available today. I have many tops and T-shirts made of Rayon. They are all super soft and drapey, but they all have different compositions mentioned in their care labels. Not many of them are solely composed of Rayon.
As Rayon is a pliable fiber with many advantageous qualities, it is a very popular dressmaking fabric. Rayon is soft, breathable, and moisture-absorbent. It has a draping quality that makes it suitable for a wide range of clothing items, including dresses, shirts, and skirts.
Rayon is also biodegradable. As Rayon is made from the cellulose fibers of wood pulp, it is considered an almost natural fabric (though it is not; it is a semi-synthetic). And it is available in knit as well as woven fabrics.
So there are many, many reasons why you can choose Rayon for your clothes, and there are so many types of Rayon out there to choose from. Here are the most popular of them.
Read more on the different properties of Rayon that make it a perfect dressmaking fabric.
In this article I will cover:
- Different types of Rayon fabric
- Viscose Rayon
- Advantages of Viscose rayon over other rayon fabrics
- Cupro or cuprammonium rayon / Bemberg rayon
- Advantages of Cupro over other rayon fabrics
- Lyocell (Tencel)
- Advantages of Lyocell over other Rayon fabrics
- Bamboo-Rayon fabric
- Advantages of Bamboo-rayon over other rayons
- Advantages of Modal over other rayons
- Rayon challis
- Advantages of Challis over other rayons
- Rayon Crepe
- Rayon knits
- Rayon lycra
- Advantages of Rayon lycra
- Polyseter and rayon blend
- Rayon satin
- Advantages of Rayon satin over other satins
- Rayon cotton
- Advantages of Cotton over other cottons and rayons
- Rayon and nylon blend
- Linen Rayon blends
- Advantages of Linen-rayon blends
- Wool rayon blend/ Rayon felt.
- Rayon crepe
- Rayon faille
- Rayon taffeta
- Rayon Poplin
- Acetate visocse blend
- Visocse polyamide fabric
- Rayon lurex
- Thin Rayons
- Rayon flannel
- Advantage of Rayon-flannel over other forms of flannel
- Organic Rayon
- Advantages of Organic Rayon over other Rayons
- Which rayon fabrics can be used for upholstery?
- Which is the most popular rayon fabric?
- Which is Rayon with a wavy pattern?
- Which is Rayon with a crisp texture?
Different types of Rayon fabric
The terms Rayon and Viscose are used interchangeably. But they are not the same. Rayon is a generic term used to describe a group of manufactured fibers made from natural cellulose sources. Viscose is a type of Rayon. The term “viscose” refers to the viscous solution used in the production process of this particular type of fiber.
100% viscose rayon is a very popular dressmaking fabric. The different Viscose Fabrics available for dressmaking are Viscose Georgette, Viscose Chiffon, Viscose Crepe, Viscose Gauze, Viscose Habotai, Viscose – Bemberg, Viscose Linen blend, Viscose Velvet, Viscose satin, Viscose Mesh, Viscose Taffeta, Viscose Twill.
Advantages of Viscose rayon over other rayon fabrics
Viscose rayon has something that distinguishes it from other rayon textiles – its production process involving viscose solution. The process produces fine, consistent fibers suitable for making very fine textiles. The resultant viscose fabric is highly breathable, making it very much a summer-friendly fabric. It is also moisture-wicking, more so than other rayon fabrics, making it suitable for activewear and as a fabric for underwear. It is also suitable for blending with all-natural fibers.
Cupro or cuprammonium rayon / Bemberg rayon
Cupro is a strong variety of Rayon with a slight sheen; It is slinky and looks like silk. Cuprammonium is made through a process that uses copper and ammonium.
Bemberg Rayon is a trade name of this variety in the US, which is popular as a lining material.
Advantages of Cupro over other rayon fabrics
Cupro is a rayon fabric that most closely resembles natural silk fabrics. Cupro rayon is compared to silk because of its soft and silky texture and is also called artificial silk as an accessible and affordable alternative to silk. It has an excellent drape, a nice sheen, and a high-end, luxurious look and feel.
It is more durable and less prone to pilling compared to other rayons.
Cupro is also considered more environmentally friendly than a lot of other rayons. It is usually made from cotton linter, a by-product of cotton production. And it holds its shape better than other rayons.
This is an eco-friendly, machine washable rayon that goes under the trade name Tencel®.
Advantages of Lyocell over other Rayon fabrics
Lyocell is a fabric known for its hypoallergenic quality, softness, drape, resistance to the growth of bacteria which create odors ( It absorbs excess sweat and quickly releases it into the atmosphere without leaving smell), and, most important of all, its reputation as a sustainable fabric which is friendly to the environment, unlike other rayon fabrics.
Lyocell rayon is produced using a closed-loop process that recycles and reuses a high percentage of the chemicals and solvents used in its production. This process uses less water and energy and produces fewer pollutants; hence, it is more environmentally friendly than the conventional rayon manufacturing method.
Lyocell has high tensile strength, both wet and dry, which means it retains its durability even when wet.
Other than these factors, it has all the other advantages of rayon fabrics, like softness, drapablility, color retention, smooth surface, absorbency, breathability, biodegradability, and sustainability.
Bamboo rayon is made from cellulose derived from bamboo wood pulp. Know more about bamboo fabric here.
Advantages of Bamboo-rayon over other rayons
Bamboo is a highly renewable resource that grows quickly without the need for pesticides or excessive water. Bamboo rayon is considered more eco-friendly compared to rayon derived from other sources like wood pulp. Bamboo fibers are known to be soft, breathable, and very comfortable against the skin. It also has antibacterial properties, which may reduce odor in clothing. And Bamboo fibers are strong and durable, too.
Modal is rayon made from the cellulose of beech trees.
Advantages of Modal over other rayons
Modal is a variation of rayon with specific properties that set it apart from other types of rayon. The texture of modal closely resembles natural silk. Modal fabric is a very soft variety of Rayon – in fact, it is considered one of the softest fabrics. But at the same time, it is stronger than other rayon fabrics and more resistant to shrinkage.
Modal Rayon has moisture-wicking properties, making it ideal for activewear and undergarments. Additionally, the modal Rayon resists fading, shrinking, and wrinkling, making it a low-maintenance fabric.
Modal fabrics are less prone to shrinkage compared to some other types of rayon. One pet peeve with rayon fabrics is that they damage in the machine wash -but with modal Rayon, this problem is solved – the fibers have great wet strength. It will not be stretched out of shape in the tumble wash like other rayon garments.
The production process also uses fewer chemicals. Many modal manufacturers prioritize responsible sourcing of raw materials, contributing to ethical and sustainable practices. (sustainability practices can vary among manufacturers)
Read more on Modal fabric here.
This is perhaps the most used fabric in dressmaking. Rayon challis is a lightweight fabric with a soft, drapey feel.
Advantages of Challis over other rayons
Rayon challis is often used for flowy, loose-fitting garments like dresses, blouses, skirts, casual pants, shawls, scarves, lingerie, and sleepwear, because of its lightweight and drapey nature. Challis takes prints exceptionally well, resulting in vibrant and detailed patterns. Challis is available in a wide variety of colors, patterns, and finishes. Challis is also considered as a relatively easy to sew rayon fabric.
Rayon crepe has a subtle crepe texture. The crinkled or pebbled fabric texture, gives it a visually interesting and distinctive look. This texture adds depth and character to garments, making them more visually appealing compared to the smooth, flat appearance of regular smooth rayon.
The textured surface of rayon crepe helps mask wrinkles and creases, making it more forgiving in terms of maintaining a neat appearance. A perfect fabric for everyday wear.
If you are looking for rayon knits, ask for rayon jersey knits, rayon interlocks, rayon ribbings and rayon lycra. Rayon knits are used to make comfortable pants, t-shirts, etc., but they do not have the structure of woven rayons. Doubleknit Rayon Blend is a very comfortable, strong Rayon knit fabric that is also easy to maintain.
Rayon-lycra blend is a stretchy version of Rayon because of the addition of elastic fibers. The Rayon-Lycra blend fabric is very much favored in dressmaking. The usual blends are 40% elastane 60% rayon, which gives a very stretchy material or 95% rayon 5% spandex, which gives just enough stretch.
Rayon slub lycra has a slightly textured look and feel.
Advantages of Rayon lycra
You can make unstructured form-fitting clothes with these fabrics. The addition of Lycra/spandex provides elasticity, allowing the fabric to stretch comfortably in all directions. This stretch makes it ideal for form-fitting and body-hugging garments.
Polyseter and rayon blend
This is usually a 60% rayon and 40% polyester blend. Poly-rayon-spandex fabric combines spandex fibers to the mix. Terylene rayon is a blend fabric made from terylene (polyester) and rayon fibers.
The rayon-satin is usually a polyester-rayon blend made in a satin weave. Rayon Satin is a glossy fabric with a very smooth finish that shines under light. It’s great for evening wear or special occasions.
Advantages of Rayon satin over other satins
Rayon satin is more affordable than silk satin. It offers a similarly smooth and luxurious sheen at a lower cost. Compared to other types of satin fabrics like polyester or acetate satin, rayon satin is more drapey, softer, and more breathable and comfortable to wear. It is also less prone to static buildup and will not cling to the body.
Rayon and cotton blend is a very popular blend combination for t-shirts and tops. Cotton rayon twill is a premium material that can be used to make comfortable suits and trousers.
Advantages of Cotton over other cottons and rayons
When rayon fibers are added to cotton fibers, there are some distinct advantages. The properties of Rayon, like softness, smoothness, and good drape, are added from the rayon side, and durability and strength are added from the cotton side. Rayon cotton has a better drape and more softness than pure cotton. Cotton makes the fabric more strong and durable.
Rayon and nylon blend
This is usually available as Rayon 65% and nylon 35% spandex. Rayon and nylon are both synthetic fabrics (Rayon is a semi-sythetic fabric), but they have different properties and advantages. And when bended both the properties are combined to our advantage.
Rayon-nylon blend fabrics are good for making activewear as they are strong, durable, and moisture-wicking. They are also resistant to chlorine and salt water. Because of the addition of rayon fibers, the fabric becomes softer and more comfortable to wear. The rayon-nylon blends are also available as medium-heavy weight double knits with a crisp hand and these can be used for making structured jackets, pants and also dresses and skirts.
Linen Rayon blends
Linen-Rayon blend is usually a 55% linen and 45% rayon blend.
Advantages of Linen-rayon blends
The linen-rayon blend combines the properties of both linen and rayon, both exceptional fabrics for making clothes. The combination of linen’s texture and rayon’s smoothness creates a unique textural appeal. Linen rayon blends have a relaxed and elegant drape, ideal for clothing items like dresses, skirts, and blouses.
Linen is a durable fiber, and when blended with rayon, it enhances the fabric’s overall strength and durability. Linen rayon blends are less prone to tearing and wear compared to some other rayon fabrics.
While linen can be coarse on its own, the addition of rayon softens the fabric, making it more comfortable to wear against the skin. Linen rayon blends resist wrinkling better than pure linen fabrics.
Wool rayon blend/ Rayon felt.
Rayon felt is a non-woven material, usually a blend of polyester and Rayon.
Rayon Crepe is a medium-weight fabric with a soft and silky texture, but with a crinkled or crepe-like texture. It is usually lightweight and breathable, making it great for blouses and dresses.
Rayon Faille is a heavier yet still lightweight fabric that features a ribbed, twill-weaved texture. It has an excellent drape and flow, giving it a luxurious appearance. It is often used for blouses, dresses, and other garments that require a slightly heavier fabric with an elegant look.
Rayon Taffeta is a glossy fabric that has a crisp sheen and stiffer texture than most other rayon fabrics. It is usually thick and heavy, making it great for winter garments like coats and suits.
Poplin is a plain-weave fabric known for its tight, fine, and crisp texture. When 100% rayon fibers are used to make poplin, the smoothness and softness of rayon and crisp weave of poplin is combined to form a good shirt making fabric.
Acetate visocse blend
This is usually a 50% Acetate 50% Viscose. A good fabric with a very good drape.
Visocse polyamide fabric
Polyamide fibers are strong, durable, and lightweight. They are resistant to abrasion, chemicals, and heat. They are also very elastic. A combination of viscose and polyamide creates a very durable, stretchy, but soft fabric suitable for sportswear and also for formal wear. Usually, viscose polyamide fabrics will have a composition of different fibers like this – Viscose, Polyamide, Cotton, Polyester, Polyacrylic, and Nylon.
Rayon Lurex is a type of rayon fabric that has metallic threads woven into it. These metallic threads give the fabric a shimmering effect, making it perfect for adding a touch of glamour to any outfit. Rayon Lurex is often used in evening wear, party dresses, and dance costumes.
The thin, lightweight varieties of Rayon are Rayon georgette, Rayon poplin, Rayon gauze, and Rayon voile. They are great as overlays, sheer curtains, etc.
This is a material that is perfect for soft jackets and pants.
Advantage of Rayon-flannel over other forms of flannel
Rayon flannel is exceptionally soft and smooth to the touch; it also has good drape and flow. It is also more breathable than other forms of flannel. Rayon flannel maynot be as durable as wool flannel or cotton flannel but it is reasonably strong and easy to care for.
In the manufacturing process of rayon fabrics, various chemicals are used to transform cellulose fibers into a versatile textile material. So, even though Rayon is made from renewable resources and from plant fiber by-products, the production process makes it very non-environment friendly. Organic Rayon refers to sustainably sourced rayon blends produced using sustainable and eco-friendly processes.
Advantages of Organic Rayon over other Rayons
Organic Rayon fabrics are made from renewable sources such as bamboo or eucalyptus trees, or wood pulp from responsibly managed forests. They will typically be grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The production of organic rayon often involves fewer chemicals and uses eco-friendly processing methods. It may utilize closed-loop processing systems that recycle and reuse water and chemicals, reducing waste and emissions. Eco-friendly rayon production may use more energy-efficient equipment and processes, leading to lower energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. These factors make organic rayon more environmentally friendly than traditional rayon fabrics.
Which rayon fabrics can be used for upholstery?
Rayon fabrics available with stain-resistant finishes, rayon blends woven in different textures like velvet, damask and chenille can be used for upholstery. Modal rayon, Tencel rayon, and Viscose rayon can be used for upholstery. Thin rayon fabrics like Ryon gauze fabric are used to make sheer curtains.
Which is the most popular rayon fabric?
Viscose Rayon is the most popular rayon fabric. Its superior smooth texture and drape makes it a favourite for a lot of sewing projects, especially apparels.
Which is Rayon with a wavy pattern?
This may be Rayon Crepe. Rayon crepe has a crinkled appearance with a distinct texture of thin wavy lines.
Which is Rayon with a crisp texture?
Rayon poplin, rayon taffeta, and rayon-nylon blends have crisp texture.