Sewing with Rayon. Eww.

Way back in October 2001, I bought a Husqvarna Huskystar 207 sewing machine. This is a very, very entry-level machine. It does about 7 stitches, goes in reverse, does buttonholes and buttons and that’s about it. I chose well, though, since I rarely use 4 of the stitches.

I got OK at using it and even ending up doing adjustments to a bias-cut dress pattern, which made it look great on me.

And then I left it in Minnesota when I went to Korea. On our return trip from Minnesota, I carried it on the airplane in an old, 80’s-era kitchen-sink sized washed denim handbag of my mother’s. (More than 3 oz of lotion? Bad! A big ol’ sewing machine? No problem.)

Last night I used old stash fabric to make bojagi (Korean wrapping cloth) and a sash/belt for my black shirt dress. It was good practice on making straight lines.

Then Good Man went protester on me and demanded I feed him.

“아만다는 밥을 줘라, 밥을 줘라!”

Today I decided to attack this bridesmaid dress I wore for Mom and George’s wedding when I was 14.

Oooh, Hello 1995!

This is actually about 15-20% shorter than it was, since I threw it in the washer and drier when I was 14. It’s rayon. Rayon shrinks.

Shorter Than it Was

The hem was falling apart in places, and there were even some tiny holes near the hem. I found that surprising since I only wore it once.


I chopped off the skirt below the zipper (very unevenly, I’ll add).

Chop it Up!

After I cut the dress in half, I dumped it in a simmering bath of RIT dark green dye for ten minutes. Disposable chopsticks came in rather handy, since I needed to stir it continuously.

After it was (mostly) dry, I pinned the hem up by one inch. I suck at evenly turning up a hem. Also, I probably need an ironing board.

Turning it Up

I stitched it together, zig-zag sheared it, turned it up another inch and hemmed it again.

This Part was Easy Enough…

I don’t have photos of the next part, but it was a mess.

Since I knew my hem was not perfect, I decided to measure from the hem to the waistband.

This did not work well. I’d measure the same thing three or four times and get wildly different measurements. It was Very Frustrating. It was like the rayon changed sizes depending on its mood. Good Man helped me, and I think he wanted to kill the rayon.

I finally decided to just finish the project because it was not going to be perfect. I had discovered that working with rayon when I’m not a proficient sewer was a Very Bad Idea. The fabric didn’t hold pressing well, it slid all over (even pinned and with the feed dogs engaged), and it showed every little hole (from pins or from ripped out stitching).

I ended up making a casing for elastic and then stuck 1/2″ non-roll elastic in it.

The plate ate my fabric at one point. I thought I’d broken something on the needle holding shaft. I could not reset the needle and I was freaking out. I finally…turned the hand wheel, therefore raising the needle shaft. Duhhhh…

I was bitching and moaning about the whole thing. Good Man stared at me. “You are not expert sewer. You want to be on Project Runway first time you sew and that is not possible. Did you learn to knit in one project? No.”

“Look at how awful that waistband is!” I said.

He looked at the the waistband and shrugged, “I don’t know, looks good to me,” he lied.

It really looks terrible off the body, but on the body, you can’t really tell that the band looks so bad. Behold the power of a elastic waistband and/or a long shirt!

Uneven Hem—Ignore It

Obviously I need a slip with this skirt.


The flowered pattern showed through the overdying process, which made me happy!


Black and White Shot

That wrinkle in the vertical seam down the front? Not my fault. I did nothing to the already-present vertical seams. It probably needs to be ironed.

If I were to do this over (which I wouldn’t, because it’s rayon, and next time I’ll just trash any rayon fabric because it belongs to the devil), I’d remove some of the bulk from the vertical seams. I know that as-is, it isn’t super flattering to my shape because of the excess fabric around the waist and hips.


But for my first overdying project, I think it turned out pretty well. I’m sure it’ll become a go-to skirt for the weekends. And hey, now that bridesmaid’s dress will get some use out of it.

Total cost of the project? Forest green thread was $2.79 (I used very little of it, of course, but now it’ll be in my stash, so it won’t count for future projects). 1 yard of 1/2″ elastic came to 64 cents (on sale) and one bottle of RIT dye was 3.99 (I only used 1/3 of it, but we’ll count all of it as being in my stash now). After tax and my teacher discount, it came in at $6.62. Not bad.

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