Beat the Heat this Summer with a lovely dress, skirt or blouse
made from viscose or cotton lawn.
Viscose has many desirable qualities, which makes it a wonderful fibre to work with in many ways. Because of its unique versatility, many industries use viscose, from fashion to the medical profession, to everyday items in the home. Cotton Lawn is a lightweight, silky substrate similar to voile or batiste with a bit more structure to it. The threads in the fabric are very fine which results in a supple drape that is perfect for warm weather and linings.
A bit about Viscose
This fabric was popular and it was used for numerous garments sold in the high street stores. But, the first time the item gets washed, it shrinks. People did not like this as it often did not fit after washing. So after a while, viscose clothes went on sale with clear labels saying viscose or rayon.
Today, however, viscose standards are significantly different and many sewists are turning to viscose more often. While the fabric should always be pre-washed before you start a sewing project, that's usually advisable for any material you will be using.
Viscose is used a lot in blends. In a viscose/linen blend, an owner can be confident they won't have to deal with creases.
Good points about Viscose Fabric
- Versatile - good for dresses, skirts and blouses
- Breathable - does not trap body heat
- Drapes well
- Absorbent - retains its colour
- Strong and robust
- Light and comfortable
- Does not cling - no static
The not so good points about Viscose Fabric
Slightly less positive traits to viscose but if you take care during washing and wearing these will all become obsolete.
- It can shrink when washed - Pre-wash your fabric on the setting, you will be using once you have made your garment up.
- Can wrinkle easily - Once washed, remove from the machine as soon as cycle finishes. Give it a good shake and then hang it up to dry. Leaving it in a crumpled condition in the machine will cause lots of creases and crinkles.
- If you spend a lot of time in the sun, the fabric can show signs of fading
- Susceptible to mildew if left wet or stored in damp cupboards
Top tips for sewing Viscose?
Always wash your fabric first. This is an important step!
This fabric can be slippery to cut, use sharp pins to hold the pieces together. If cutting out with scissors lay an old towel out on a hard flat surface and then place your fabric and pattern on top. This can not be done if you use a rotary cutter.
Use a new needle in your sewing machine at the start of the project. For a lightweight fabric, you should use a 70/10 needle or a general sewing needle 80/12. If you are sewing viscose jersey fabric the use a 70/10 ball point needle for the best result.
Can I iron Viscose Fabric?
Pressing your garment before hemming can make it easier to sew and gives a sharper finish. Viscose should not be ironed, it should be pressed, ironing it can distort the fabric shape. It is a thinnish light fabric and therefore does not require a very hot iron.
What is Cotton Lawn Fabric?
Cotton Lawn is a lightweight, silky substrate similar to voile or batiste with a bit more structure to it. Cotton lawns are 100% cotton but lawn can be found in other fibres. The threads in the fabric are very fine which results in a supple drape that is perfect for warm weather and linings.
Liberty Cotton Lawn
Cotton Lawn Showcase, Fabrics from Croft Mill
Does Cotton Lawn Shrink?
Cotton Lawn doesn't usually shrink too much but, it’s always a good idea to prewash your fabrics before cutting. Cotton Lawn should be machine washed in cold water and tumble dried on the low setting.
Can I iron Cotton Lawn fabric?
Cotton Lawn is a semi-delicate fabric. Use a low-temperature setting on your iron and a pressing cloth. Never leave the iron on the fabric as it may leave a burn mark.
How to sew Cotton Lawn?
Cotton Lawn is not a slippery fabric and so is easy to pin and cut. Using sharp scissors or a fresh rotary blade when cutting avoids snags. Pattern weights or fine pins will work best to hold your pattern down.
Avoid marking pens, ink can burrow itself into the fabric. Instead, try tailor's chalk, wax or even soap, you can also use a water soluble marker pen.
Fusible interfacing works perfectly. The lightweight of cotton lawn does not lend itself to sewn-in or heavyweight interfacings.
Use a 70/10 or 80/12 needle for sewing, preferably a new needle as it will not cause the fabric to pucker.
Viscose and Cotton Lawn Inspiration Ideas
Links to some interesting sites and patterns
From the Seasoned Homemaker - how to sew pyjama pants uses Simplicity 1520.
One of our favourite link sites, S0 Sew Easy, make a pair of men's pyjama pants, with a tutorial.
Love sewing offers a batch of lovely dress patterns and tutorials, free downloads.
Frugal living offers a lot of free skirt patterns and tutorials, different sizes and shapes.
The Sewing Loft has a very good tutorial on how to read a sewing pattern, ideal for beginners.
Make this BoHo top - full tutorial and pattern -
What Do You Think?
We would love to know your thoughts on viscose and cotton lawn fabrics. Do you love it, or are you wary of it? Let us know in the comments below.