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Tips on How to Sew with Handmade Batik Rayon from Bali


Published: 06/29/2009

by Catherine Goetz


It was at the Creative Sewing and Needlework Festival in Toronto, Ontario several years ago that I first saw the gorgeous handmade batik rayons of The Batik Butik. I was immediately smitten by the sophisticated designs, vivid colours and soft drape of this unique fabric and became a regular customer. When the owner, Barb Alexander, took her business wholesale, I found it very challenging to find her fabrics and so I began my own online sewing supplies business and handmade batik rayon is the mainstay of my product line. What follows are my best tips on caring for and sewing with this beautiful fabric.

Rayon is probably the most misunderstood of all fibres. It is not a natural fibre, yet it is not synthetic. It is formed by regenerating natural materials into a usable form. Unfortunately, poor quality rayon was often used in low-end, poorly constructed garments that have tarnished its reputation. The batik rayons from The Batik Butik are the very best quality rayon available in Southeast Asia resulting in easy care garments that will last.

Batik rayon is most suitable for garment sewing and is flattering on all figure types. The drape of the fabric causes it to skim the body camouflaging any figure concerns. Batik rayon is breathable, closely woven with a smooth surface. The dyes are top quality resulting in colourfast fabrics. Comfort is the hallmark of this fabric!

As for any fabric, it is important to find a pattern that works with the characteristics of the fabric. A successful garment in batik rayon the pattern should be loose fitting with lots of design ease so the fabric can drape over the figure. Look at the back of the pattern envelope for fabric recommendations that include light to medium weight, soft drapey fabrics, such as rayon.

Batik rayon designs can be one-way, two-way, border or all-over. A one-way design, called "with nap" pattern, such as Purple Parasols, the layout is followed so that the design is all going in the same direction. Azure/Espresso Small Ginkgo is an example of a two-way design, called "without nap". Although not as common, border prints are wonderful fabrics that lend themselves well to garments with straight across hems, found in many tops, skirts, dresses, pants and even sleeves. The border runs vertically along one selvedge. Place the pattern on the crossgrain, rather than the straight of grain, so that the border falls at the hem. Bali Sea Peacock Border is an example of a border print. Teal Purple Tanglewood is an example of "all over designs" where direction is not an issue. Such fabrics will work with all pattern layouts. No matter what the design, it is important to check your pattern instructions for the pattern layout. In some layouts, pattern pieces are sometimes placed on the crossgrain, bias or extend from the front of the garment to the back. Tip: Try to visualize the effect that will have with your fabric to determine if that's the look you are going for. Be sure to purchase enough fabric based on the fabric width, the required layout (with or without nap) and taking into account shrinkage.
***This is a partial excerpt from the article by the same name appearing in the Summer 2009 issue of A Needle Pulling Thread Magazine, which can be purchased by calling toll-free at 1.866.969.2678 or online at http://www.aneedlepullingthread.com/bi.html.