Fabric 101 – Part 2: MummaB makes the Rayon shine with this stunning maxi dress …
Earlier we posted the first in our Fabric 101 series – Carrie’s Marigold trousers and jumpsuit. Now we hand the reins over to Stacie who has taken on our ever popular Rayon Challis to kick off her summer of sewing:
Welcome to my first (but certainly not last) ever blog! I am absolutely thrilled to have been asked to write this for the wonderful 1stFor Fabrics, particularly in light of the fact that my sewing adventure began only 6 months ago!
Mumma to my two girls – but Stacie to everyone else – I am a thirty-something full-time accountant, living in South Wales with the girls (Little B and Littlest B), my husband (you can call him Daddy B if you like) and Pete the dog.
Joining a complete beginner’s class in October last year, learning how to thread my machine and making a cushion, I was instantly hooked on the idea of being able to create something all by myself. I rapidly progressed from a cushion to little skirts and dresses for my girls. Then, with the guidance of the fabulous Tilly & The Buttons, I began to make clothes for myself mostly using fabric I had picked up in the sale from 1stFor Fabrics.
After barely 6 months of sewing in the evenings I was ready to take on my first paper pattern, without the guidance or step-by-step instructions I had relied on to this point. I had picked up a maxi-dress pattern free with ‘Dressmaker’ magazine so having fallen in love with their beautifully packaged fabrics, I instantly took to my favourite online fabric shop for inspiration!
At this point I do have to give some credit to the impeccable taste of my husband, for his excellent fabric choice! As a beginner, I am still learning about the vast array of fabrics out there. ‘Challis’ was one of the first items listed on the back of the pattern packet, so I typed it into the 1stFor Fabrics website search tool… There were so many beautiful bright summery prints, that I could not choose, so I passed my phone to my husband who very quickly picked the green and coral leaf design Rayon Challis.
I eagerly await my next delivery from 1stFor Fabrics, from the beautiful packaging, to the personal hand-written note from Kayleigh to the carefully selected colour-matched Gutterman thread! But the real excitement came when I opened the package and picked up the Rayon Challis! Now I may be new to this, but I had never felt such a luxurious soft feeling fabric as the Rayon Challis! I can’t be the only one who sweeps the fabric up and drapes it around themselves before it’s even been cut can I?! I am sure I spent about half an hour just stroking the fabric and imagining what it COULD look like as a dress. The Rayon Challis is such a lightweight soft material, which drapes in the most beautiful way. Reluctantly, I did stop day-dreaming long enough to get it in the wash!
I considered zig-zagging the edges before washing, but opted to just get it in as quickly as I could, so I could get started on my dress. I washed the fabric like everything else I do at 40o and it came out perfect. I did not risk the tumble dryer though, instead hanging on the airer in front of the radiator to dry.
Now, I am still working out the best method for me for marking patterns onto fabric and cutting out, but I opted to just cut the paper pattern here, then traced onto the fabric using my new Prym chalk pencils. The fabric was really easy to mark with these, and easy to cut, in fact the scissors just glided through.
What I did find, was that once I had cut the fabric, it did fray quite easily – so I would recommend working with a slightly larger seam allowance to tolerate that.
My pattern called for bias tape for the arm holes, which I was able to make for myself using this fabric, with no special tools, just my nimble fingers and my dinky Prym iron! The wonder clips were invaluable for this task. In fact, the wonder clips were great for the whole make, as I didn’t have to worry about leaving any marks or holes from pins!
There was a small ‘scratchy head’ moment when I had to make the casing for the elastic (recycled from an old fitted bed sheet), but once that clicked, the rest of the make was a dream. The fabric ran through my machine easily. Despite being really soft, it was easy to control.
I must add, that though it sounds like this was all done very simply and quickly, this was all spread over a two-week period, as I only get to sew in small intervals when the children are sleeping! Finally, all that was left to do was to try the dress on! I am struggling for the words to describe how I felt having made this dress – ridiculously proud, yes, but more than that, elated, ecstatic, but hubby was away and the children were asleep, so I had no one to share my joy with but my lovely virtual friends on social media! I was overwhelmed with the response and kindness of the online dressmaking community, whose wonderful words of encouragement and compliments on the beautiful dress I had created ultimately led to me being sat here this evening writing this blog!
Thanks so much Stacie, I’m still in awe that this lady has only been sewing for 6 months – the future is bright!
To add to Stacie’s brilliant write up, we’d like to share some of the qualities of rayon that we discovered while doing a little bit of research of our own:
Rayon is a ‘semisynthetic’ fibre, meaning that it is man-made from natural fibres (wood pulp, primarily). It was originally made to imitate silk, but depending on the type/grade of rayon it can be made to feel like wool, cotton or linen. Rayon challis (pronounced sha-lee) has a great drape and as Stacie described above it is extremely soft. The fibres take on dyes wonderfully, so you will often find these fabrics to carry bold and bright colours and patterns with ease.
Cool and comfortable, rayon is highly absorbent and breathable – making it a GREAT choice for garments to be worn in warmer weather.
If you’d like to review one of our fabrics, then please drop us a line at email@example.com