A couple of months back, fabulous Art Gallery Fabrics sent me a STUNNING piece of rayon to try out. Oh, my . . . I had such fun with this fabric and now I have a FABRIC GIVEAWAY for you! Watch for the Giveaway entry info at the end of this post . . . . .
The Fabulousness of Art Gallery Fabric’s Rayon
This gorgeous floral is from Sharon Holland’s Signature collection. The print is called Extempore Gala, which means spontaneous celebration. So aptly named – it was a total party to sew with!! Diving into the envelope was super exciting, so I did a short video for my Instagram as an opener for this project.
Let’s stop for a minute and talk about this fabric. Rayon is a fabulous fiber, manufactured from natural cellulose and often difficult to distinguish from silk. But, not all Rayons are created equal and I was absolutely thrilled with the excellent quality of Art Gallery’s Rayon. It has beautiful drape, excellent body, holds its shape and feels AWWMAZING when worn. This is not the rayon that falls limply against your body and screams cheap. This is THE RAYON that makes you feel like royalty. And, really . . . we are sewing royalty, aren’t we?!?!
What? Another Kimono??
The next step was to decide what I wanted to make and once I had my hands on the fabric, there were SO many ideas rolling through my sewing head.
When I asked for help on Instagram, designer Sharon Holland commented that she had made a kimono from her Rayon and absolutely loved it. (You can see pictures Sharon sent me from her blog above!) Since I’m in an obsessive kimono stage right now anyway, I knew that would be perfect for me, too!
And, so . . . a Kimono was born! I’ve used several kimono patterns recently and chose the Florence Kimono from Sew Caroline for my Extempore Rayon. It has a lovely curve to the underarm that gives it a less boxy shape that is very flattering. That seemed perfect for the luscious drape of the Art Gallery Rayon. Click here to read about my first Florence.
Kimonos are simple garments, quick to sew and marvelous palettes for showcasing wonderful fabrics or artistic design. The Florence Kimono consists of just three main pieces – back (cut on fold), front and sleeve. Bands can be added to the neck/front or sleeves or left off. Up. . . To. . . You. I love that about sewing!!
Reclaimed Velvet Bands
It’s tough for me to use a fabric on its own, even when it’s as marvelous as this beautiful Rayon print. I just love a little accent or spark when I’m sewing clothes, so I chose black Rayon/Silk velvet for the neck/front and sleeve bands on my Extempore Gala kimono.
The velvet began its life as a skirt I no longer wear and became 2.5″ bias strips as instructed in the pattern. I began by cutting up one side of the skirt’s side seams and laying it out more or less flat. My cutting mat has diagonal lines on it, so I lined up my ruler with those to get as true of a bias as I could considering it was already a skirt. The neck/front band was seamed at the center back neck, then folded in half before being sewn to the kimono.
For the sleeve bands, I used the hem of the skirt. It was edged with satin hem tape that I included in my band to give it less bulk. I think that worked well, kept my sleeve “hem” from being stiff and retained the sleeve’s drape. I love the contrast of the textured velvet and the smooth, drapey Rayon. They complement each other so well!
Sewing the Royal Rayon Kimono
Yes, I chose two fabrics that are sometimes considered challenging to sew, but the simple lines of the kimono were perfect. Another thing I loved about Art Gallery Fabrics Rayon was the “drapey, but not-so-slippery” nature of the fabric. I used more pins than usual, sewed a little slower and had no problems at all. This was the same with adding the velvet bands. Plenty ‘o pins + patience = few problems.
As most of my garments are, the entire kimono was serged together. When I top stitched the bands, my walking foot once again proved it’s worth. The seams were pressed toward the Rayon, I lengthened my stitch to 4mm and kept my eye on the edge lined up with my foot. Slow, steady and patient are the secrets to lovely top stitching!
Rayon Kimono Tips
- Rayon likes to move a bit when you’re cutting and sewing. Try pattern weights instead of pins when cutting out your design and use lots of pins when sewing.
- Beyond the pattern weights, for really successful cutting, use a rotary cutter (I love my Olfa) or serrated fabric shears. (I have this pair from Kai and I LOVE them.) They don’t push the fabric and you’ll be much happier while you’re cutting.
- Pre-wash? Yes – always! I pre-washed in cold water and dried on medium heat. There was no shrinkage in the width and about an inch per yard which I thought was pretty great. You may want to follow Art Gallery’s fabric care suggestions instead.
- Use a new 75/11 Schmetz Universal Needle in your sewing machine AND serger. Don’t risk sewing frustration or fabric damage by using a cheap needle or one that may be dull from previous use. (Ask me how I learned that?!)
- Press each seam as it is sewn. First from the wrong side, then from the right side. I set my iron on steam and low heat. When pressing, lift your iron up and down instead of ironing back and forth. That helps to prevent adding wrinkles or stretching the fabric. Down, up, down, up and repeat!
- When pressing the velvet bands, I was careful to use a thick towel underneath and a Bo-Nash Ironing Mat on the top. This prevented crushing the velvet or adding ironed-in shine to it’s gorgeousness. Make sure you use the correct temp on your iron, too. Proper pressing with the right tools is SEW important! (That’s probably a blog post on it’s own!)
- When stitching on the front band and/or top stitching, start at the center back and sew down to the hem on one side. Repeat for the second side. This helps to prevent the “drag” lines that sometimes occur when you start at the hem and just stitch all around to the next hem.
F A B R I C G I V E A W A Y ! ! !
Okay, let’s get to the GIVEAWAY!!! I’m so in love with wearing this fabric and you need some, too! Art Gallery Fabrics has generously offered to send our winner 2 YARDS of 54/56″ wide Extempore Gala Rayon just like mine. Sooo fabulous!
Here’s how it’s going to work:
- Comment on this post with what you can hardly wait to make from this gorgeous Art Gallery Rayon. You have 10 days! Entry will end at Midnight PT on Friday, November 2nd. You must comment here on this post to be entered.
- Watch The Sewful Life right here, on Instagram or Facebook for the winner announcement on Saturday, November 3rd. If you win, you will have 7 days to email me. If the winner has not responded by Midnight PT on 11/11, a new winner will be chosen.
- Open to residents of the USA only this time. Thanks for your understanding!
Easy, right?! You, too can have an envelope full of delicious Art Gallery Fabrics Rayon arrive in your mailbox. And, if you don’t win . . . for goodness sake, do your royal sewing self a favor and find out where you can buy some of this gorgeousness!
Keep sewing with joy, don’t stress and be fabulous!! I’ll be back soon . . .
Moment of Further Truth: The Extempore Gala Rayon was provided to me by Art Gallery Fabrics, the Bo-Nash Ironing Mat was provided to me by Bo-Nash and I am extremely grateful. This post includes affiliate links and I may receive a small payment if you make a purchase using that link. Thank you if you do – it helps to keep The Sewful Life stitching along and I sincerely appreciate your support. All opinions are solely and truly mine and I only gush about things I love!