Rayon / Lycra Jersey
by Shannon Gifford
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  • Rayon/Lycra Jersey

    Rayon/lycra jersey is one of my favorite fabrics. It is comfortable to wear, easy to care for, and versatile to use. The gauge of the knit is quite fine, so it is cool to wear in the summer. In the cooler months, garments can be layered over rayon/lycra without adding bulk. I love this fabric! Some rayon/lycra fabrics have 4-way stretch, making them appropriate for exercise wear. If you decide to use this fabric for exercise wear, choose the heavier weights, such as the 14 oz.


    Some rayon/lycra jerseys will shrink slightly when machine washed for the first time. Be sure to prewash before sewing! Pretreat by washing in cold water on the delicate cycle, then dry on low heat in the dryer. Store the fabric (and your finished project) flat, as you would store a treasured sweater. You may prefer to handwash a fitted garment.

    Needles and thread:

    Use a 75/11 stretch needle for your seams. Poly/cotton thread or all polyester thread are the best choices for working with this fabric.


    Should your project require interfacing, a cool-fuse, lightweight interfacing like So Sheer or Touch-o-Gold. Test your iron's heat on a scrap of the fabric; some prints may need to have a press cloth between the fabric and the iron. Match the grain of your interfacing to the grain of the knit. Seams, seam finishes, and hems: Choose a triple zigzag or stretch stitch for best results. If you have a serger, a 3 thread overlock with balanced tension will work beautifully, even for constructing the seams. Seam finishes are not necessary in this fabric. For hems, use the lettuce edge rolled hem for a quick and easy hem. For an even, beautiful hem, a twin needle is your best bet. Choose a 4.0/75 stretch needle, and set your stitch length to 2.5. Interface your hems for best results (see additional tips).

    Pattern suggestions:

    Patterns for knits, such as tees, tanks, leggings, and lingerie are all appropriate choices. You can also use this fabric successfully for luxury pajamas, copying the styling of pricey ready-to-wear items. Patterns with draped, twisted, or gathered details will work well in this fabric. Rayon/lycra works well for very fitted or body-conscious garments, as well. Avoid patterns with crisp details, such as pleats, or items requiring extensive tailoring.

    Creative possibilities:

    Lettuce edging works well in rayon/lycra jersey. Use a rolled hem on your serger or a wide zigzag on your sewing machine. Stitch on the cut edge of the fabric, stretching the fabric tightly as you go. This is a super-easy and quick edge finish!

    Additional Tips:

    Rayon/lycra is of intermediate difficulty to sew. Many of the challenges of sewing this fabric can be overcome with the use of interfacing. Cut matching grain strips of interfacing twice the width of your hems and fuse them in place before sewing. Also, an arc-shaped piece of on-grain fusible will help support the caps of set-in sleeves in this fabric. Do not allow the fabric to drag off your sewing table when cutting or sewing. Hold as much of the fabric level as possible while it feeds through your machine. Press your seams flat before pressing them open, using steam. Save your scraps to use as bindings for other knits.

    Copyright (c) 2018 by EmmaOneSock