Rayon is such a beautiful clothing material. However, although it is a beautiful material, not much is known about it. This versatile material has so many uses that many might not know about, and there are some unique properties that are cloaked in mystery.
In this post, we provide the ultimate guide to rayon material. We answer some of the most important questions, like “does rayon stretch?” and consider some of the most intriguing features of this material.
Read on to find out all that we know about rayon material.
The first thing that anyone who wants to know about rayon needs to understand is the origin. What exactly is rayon material?
Rayon goes by several names. Some know it as artificial silk. Whatever name you call it, rayon is a beautiful material with special features. It is a textile fiber obtained from the wood pulp of trees like pine, cane, bamboo, spruce, and beech.
Additionally, you derive the pure form of rayon from cotton linters. The cellulose found in the cotton plant is processed by chemicals to create the rayon material that you know and love today.
Rayon also comes in different styles and goes by different names based on the manufacturing process. Some popular variations of rayon include modal, lyocell, and viscose.
From our discussion so far, it is clear why there is just so much confusion about this beautiful material. It is a unique material with the physical attributes, molecular build, and manufacturing process of several types of fibers.
Many people mistake rayon for cotton and vice versa; however, these are two distinct materials. Cotton is made from the bloom of the cotton boll. On the other hand, rayon is from the cellulose material of cotton and is chemically manufactured.
Now that we know what rayon is, the next consideration is how it is created. The section above has provided a clue of how it is created. However, that is merely the tip of the iceberg.
There is more involved in the production of rayon.
Rayon has a rich history, and the earliest records reveal that it was first produced via the cuprammonium method. In this method, copper and ammonia reagents were used to treat cellulose to make rayon.
However, this process has been stopped in several parts of the world because it affects the environment negatively.
So what method is used today? That is no other than the viscose method. This method is the most popular way of making rayon in mass quantities today. What is this method? Let’s see.
This process involves seven steps. Here are they:
From cellulose extracted from wood pulp, you end up with silky fibers. Depending on the final purpose, these fibers are shrunk or imbued with resistance to wrinkles, water, and fire.
Considering the complicated process of manufacturing, it is no surprise that rayon comes with several unique properties. In this section, we consider some of the biggest properties of this material.
Many people suppose that rayon is a stretchy material. However, true rayon does not stretch. It is a rather stiff material that will retain its structure despite the pressure.
Rayon fibers and fabric do not stretch. However, knitted rayon might stretch. This is not a property of rayon but knitting. Check out this list of some of the best sewing and knitting tips.
If you are just learning how to knit, reviews recommend the Complete Guide to Sewing as an excellent help.
According to many reviews, FWD rayon challis fabric is one of the best rayon materials on the market.
While rayon might expand and shrink, that does not mean that it is stretchy. Expansion and shrinking are functions of dimensional instability and not an innate stretching feature of the material.
One of the features of this material is its ability to suck moisture from the environment. When wet, the fibers are weaker and cause expansion. However, once the moisture is removed, the fibers go back to their original position.
As we have pointed out in the section above, rayon is a material that shrinks. This shrinkage is one of the drawbacks of an otherwise excellent material. The shrinkage is often uneven, and you might have a hard time getting the shrunk fibers to get back to their original position.
What causes shrinkage in rayon? Moisture.
The air is full of moisture, and the moisture is more in some cases more than others. During these periods, rayon shrinks and recovers. It is important to take steps to avoid damage due to shrinkage.
Humidity and heat can affect the rayon fibers negatively. Therefore, to prevent damage due to these factors, it is recommended that you dry clean your rayon material. Using warm or hot water to wash it in a machine and then tumble drying might cause irreversible damage to the material.
The problem is even more pronounced if the rayon is untreated. Treated rayon displays more resistance to damage, but that doesn’t mean that you should risk using hot water to wash it as it can still suffer damage.
If you want to sew this fabric, it is recommended that you first wash it in cool water and air dry to eliminate shrinkage.
Another property of this material is wrinkling. If you are looking for a material that does not wrinkle, then you need to steer clear of rayon. It is a material that wrinkles terribly when wet.
Additionally, while other materials can be straightened with some ironing, you have to be doubly careful when ironing rayon. As we have said earlier, it is not very good with heat as high heat can cause it to shrink. Therefore, you have to use low heat to straighten out the wrinkles.
If you don’t want to take any risks, though, you could use a sizing stiffener to help the material maintain its form.
Many clothing materials offer breathability, and rayon is one of them. It offers excellent breathability, which makes it a good clothing material for the hotter periods of the year.
Most summer clothes feature rayon. Apart from being very breathable, it feels soft on the skin. These properties make it the preferred summer clothing material for most people.
If cotton feels great on your skin, then you’ll likely love rayon too. It feels soft and nice, like cotton, which is excellent for people with sensitive skin.
Apart from the features that we have considered above, there are some other unique properties that rayon has.
If you are concerned about your clothes’ effect on the environment, then you will have rest of mind when using rayon. This material is very biodegradable – even more so than cotton.
Therefore, you don’t have to worry about your clothes damaging the soil, animals, or water.
However, it should be noted that the manufacturing process of rayon affects the environment negatively. The processing of rayon has been linked with deforestation, and the use of carbo sulfide in the processing is bad for the health. It also affects the greenhouse and can degrade groundwater.
Fortunately, recent steps have been taken to control the level of pollution that arises from creating this material.
One reason for its excellent biodegradability is its hydrophilic property. Rayon reacts to water, and rayon fibers that have been treated to resist water take a long time to break down.
Rayon is a flammable material. That is not a surprise since there is cellulose in the fibers. It is one of the most flammable clothing materials.
Fortunately, some rayon fabrics have been treated to be fire-resistant. Either way, if you wear rayon or have rayon material, you should be careful to keep it away from high heat and flames.
Rayon is a versatile material that offers plenty of practical applications. The properties that we have considered work to make it useful in several applications.
For example, it is a drapey material that makes it great to use as clothing material and anything requiring drapes.
Here are some of the uses:
Since this is a versatile and admittedly fragile material, you must take proper care of rayon. How can you care for it correctly? Here are some tips that can help you.
Dry cleaning your rayon material is arguably the best way that you can care for it. Dry cleaning is best for this material because it isn’t really good with water or heat.
If dry cleaning is too expensive an option, then you could hand wash your rayon material. Hand washing is straightforward.
To hand-wash, follow these steps:
You need to clean your rayon material frequently if you want it to last. Use a mild stain remover to remove any stains that you can see on the material. When cleaning, avoid using bleach because it can damage the material.
Since rayon is not great with heat, the best way to dry it is by air drying. Also, never tumble dry rayon as this will cause significant shrinkage.
Ironing rayon is a tricky business. It is highly recommended that you only use an iron on low heat settings.
Here are some of the frequent questions readers ask about rayon.
Does rayon stretch with wear?
No, it does not. Rayon maintains its shape despite frequent wear. It is not a stretchy material that can deform due to wear.
Does cotton and rayon blend stretch?
Cotton does not stretch naturally. And neither does rayon. Therefore, unless the cotton is treated to be stretchable, a cotton and rayon blend will not stretch.
Does polyester rayon blend stretch?
Yes, this blend can stretch. Although rayon itself does not stretch, blending it with stretchable fibers like polyester can make it stretch. Although the blend stretches, it does not make it weaker.
Can you stretch rayon after it shrinks?
Yes, you can. If you have caused shrinkage in your rayon clothing, then you can use certain techniques to stretch it out. Here is how to stretch it:
Does rayon stretch? Well, we have answered this question in this article. Not only have we considered the stretching properties of rayon, but we have also considered other important properties and how you can care for the material. With proper care and cleaning, you can get the best from your rayon material. If you are thinking of sewing rayon, check out this list of the best sewing machines.