How to Sew Rayon Knits - Tips for Thin Knit Fabrics

heyyo melissa here with you today and

today i am wearing my newest pattern

that's available in my shop this is

called the Bexley dress and for Bexley

we recommend things like rayon knit

otherwise known as slinky knits

what is the slinky knit you might wonder

well that's what I call any knits that

are unstructured just they drape and

they don't support themselves very well

they can be beautiful and soft to wear

but they can also be a pain to sew so

today I'm sharing tips and tricks to

make this a painless process


try multiple different stitches on

scraps of fabric before you start sewing

for example these are all stitches that

I tried and it's important to do two

layers of fabric like you would be when

you're sewing you can see that these are

wider zigzag stitches and I've got a

little bit of tunneling going on here

that I didn't love how that looked so

changing to a narrower zig-zag stitch

helps that quite a bit

ultimately I decided to go with an even

narrower stitch side-to-side and a

longer stitch length so this is the one

I ended up using to sew my dress and

then finally I also used in some places

this is a stretch stitch on my machine

so it's the one that looks like a

lightning bolt and it'll make a diagonal

stitch and then a diagonal stitch kind

of next to it and if your machine has

this this is often one of my favorite

stitches to use you can see on the sides

there that it's a pretty clean finish

even when the seam is pressed open and

it doesn't create that tunneling that I

was having with this wide and long

zigzag stitch this can vary though

depending on your fabric which stitch

and depending on your sewing machine

which stitch will work the best which is

why I always recommend taking some

scraps after you've cut out your pattern

and doing some testing to determine

which stitch you're going to want to use

if you've watched my video about sewing

machine needles then you know that I use

the same needle for about 80% of my

sewing projects and only rarely do I

switch it if you haven't watched that

video I've got it linked below but I

usually use a universal needle on my

projects however this type of fabric is

one of the projects that you might see

me switching a needle for and the sign

that you're going to need to switch

needles would be if your fabric is

skipper if your sewing machine is

skipping stitches on your fabric so if

that happens to you a good choice might

be either Jersey or stretch needles and

it kind of

pens on your machine I know I have one

machine that prefers the jersey needles

with this type of fabric and one that

prefers the stretch you just have to

kind of try bulb the way you'll know

what's working is if you're not getting

any skip stitches and you're not getting

like runs in the fabric if either of

those things you're happening then you

want to try switching needles you also

want to pay attention to your needle

size the thinner of the fabric generally

the smaller size needle you're going to

want so for a lot of these fabrics I

find it more effective to use a size 70

needle and not a bigger one like a 90

things to keep in mind if you're

troubleshooting and that is yet another

reason why it's important to sew those

sample stitches because then you'll know

if you need to change your needle before

you start sewing your actual project and

get skipped stitches what if the

hallmarks of these types of knit fabrics

is that they have a lot of vertical

stretch and depending on how they're

woven what I mean how their knitted what

fibers have been used these kinds of

fabrics can grow on you during the day

so maybe you've had a maxi skirt that

started out the right length on you and

then by the end of the day you were

tripping over your hem it was likely

made from one of these fabrics and it

grew so here's my rule of thumb for

figuring out if you need to compensate

for that with your fabric I like to get

a hanger and then I like to get a nice

length of the fabric and then hang it

somewhere in a closet or on a doorknob

or something like that but hang out

where the bottom edge of the fabric is

just touching a surface like barely

above a surface and it would help if

this scrap that I'm using was straight

that would be easier point to illustrate

but hang your fabric up and then leave

it overnight come back and check it in

the morning if that fabric that was

barely above the floor is now touching

the floor you know that this fabric

grows and you're going to want to make

me consider make

a little bit shorter to compensate for

that if it's going to be an issue of

course you can always just tie up your

hem towards the end of the day that's

another way to deal with it

slinky knits are often knitted from

extremely fine threads and because of

that when you've got a solid colored

fabric it can be really hard to tell the

right side from the wrong side even if

you know already what the right side and

the wrong side of a niche should look

like if you don't know the right in the

wrong side of a jersey i'm linking

another video below and check that out

so that you can see me actually knit

some yarn to explain the difference

between the right and the wrong side of

knitted fabric once you know though one

of the tricks I like to use is my phone

camera so I can't quite tell I mean I

can get real close and maybe I'd be able

to see but is this the right or the

wrong side so I take my phone camera and

then I zoom way in on the fabric and I

can see on here vertical columns so that

tells me this is the right side of the

fabric if I which to the other side of

the fabric it's pretty easy to see those

threads getting carried across and that

means this is the wrong side so any time

I'm in doubt because my phone is usually

nearby when I'm sewing I'll take the

camera on my phone and I'll use it to

help me figure out is this the right

side or the wrong side sometimes when

you are going to cut this kind of fabric

the selvages can be a problem and I'll

show you what I mean on this piece this

is the selvage edge of my fabric here

and salvages for these kinds of fabric

are usually either emitted from

different thread or they have treatment

on them that makes them less stretchy

and can kind of gather and pucker your

fabric so you can't lay your pattern out

straight so all you have to do to deal

with this if this is going on with your

fabric take your scissors and cut the

selvage right off what that'll do is

it'll allow you to release that extra

tension that is on the

edge of the fabric and then you can get

it to lay flat so that you can pin and

cut your pattern another great tip is to

stabilize the shoulders when you are

sewing with this type of fabric

particularly if you're finding that it's

slipping off the shoulders you can even

add stay tape to the seams after the

garment is completely sewn and what I

mean by stay safe there are natural

products called stay tape but you can

pretty much use anything that you can

sew into a seam that's going to keep

that seam from stretching because this

is generally one part of the body when

we don't want stretching your shoulders

don't really expand and contract

throughout the day like say your rib

cage does as you're breathing so you

could use strips of interfacing is what

I often use you can get twill tape and

twill tape can be sewn in a lot of

people like clear elastic because this

is very stable and you actually have to

put some pressure on it to stretch but

it does still stretch so those are all

options for state to use state able to

stabilize a shoulder seam for example

what you would do is just take your two

shoulders place them together and then

you're going to add the state ape to the

scene and then we're going to stitch

right across here so here is what a seam

reinforced with stay tape I use twill

tape in this case looks like mr. chin

just goes and the same seam line right

through the twill tape as well and what

that does is it makes it so this seam

cannot stretch that's why you only

generally want to use this in shoulder

seams because in a knit garment most of

the other seams are going to need to

stretch let's talk about a couple of

products that can be really helpful when

working with these types of knits the

first is spray starch and I've linked

both of these products below but spray

starch can get you from start to finish

first of all if you're having trouble

keeping your fabric on green as

folding it to cut pattern pieces out you

can give all of the fabric a quick shot

of spray starch and then press it and

it'll stiffen the fabric up slightly

give it a little more body and make it a

little more easy to work with even when

I don't starch the entire piece of

fabric before cutting a lot of times

almost always I will spray starch the

hems of my pattern it just makes the

hems easier to work with and it makes it

so that I don't have to pin them a lot

of times so that I don't get those

little ripples from pins or have to

worry about sewing over pins so I'll

just spray the edge of the fabric fold

it up and press it while it's damp and

then that again adds some stiffness and

body to the fabric that washes out when

you put it in the wash the other tool

that can come in really helpful

especially with hems is stitch witchery

and this is a double sided fusible so

that when you put it in between layers

of fabric and then press it it will hold

those layers together you can see how

that fuses the hem where I can't unroll

it now I can stitch it and it just adds

a little bit of stability while still

being able to stretch and that's handy

sometimes when pins aren't working if

you're working with one of these knits

and has like a high silk content or it

has a sheen a lot of times it can be

slippery and the pins just slip right

out and that's when you start using

stitch witchery also if you happen to be

hemming and you're getting tunnels

around the hem your fabric is like

getting pulled together in between the

thread and there's like a little tunnel

of fabric stitch witchery put in that

hem can reinforce it so that it doesn't

get pulled together like that so this is

a great project product to have on hand

I generally get the alternate relate

variety because you can add more than

one layer of the stitch

witchery if you need to so helpful for

those reasons if your machine has

presser foot pressure adjustments then I

suggest lowering that down on my machine

it's back here and you can see I've got

it set on the lowest presser foot

pressure that I can this those up and

what that does is exert more pressure on

the pressure foot so go down to the

lowest setting that it will still feed

your fabric through because that will

help ensure that you don't stretch the

fabric as you're stitching if you're

having trouble with your machine sucking

your fabric down into the throat plate

as you are stitching here's a trick they

can help first get your upper thread and

hold it tightly off to the side then

hand crank your sewing machine wheel

towards you until you can pull up the

bobbin thread from underneath sometimes

it helps to have a pair of scissors to

help sweep that over so that you can get

a hold of the bobbin thread and then

pull out a length of it hold both

threads to the back of the machine and

then put your fabric in where you want

to stitch and hold tight to those

threads as you begin stitching use them

to pull the fabric under the presser


once you have enough fabric under the

presser foot there's no danger of

getting sucked into the throat plate

then you can continue stitching as a

normal so there you have it y'all those

are my best tips and tricks for working

with these types of knit fabrics I hope

they help you so that your next project

with this type of fabric is easier to