Typically when I think of fabric for children’s clothing I tend to gravitate towards the ones that are low maintenance yet can stand up to some pretty tough play. Or maybe I’ll select fancy fabric for those special occasion outfits that are only worn a handful of times because I don’t want them to get ruined. Well, I think I may have found a fabric that falls smack dab in the middle: rayon gauze. I mean it comes wrinkled on purpose!
My daughter has long ditched her dresses in favor of leggings and t-shirts, so when she recently asked me to sew her the Tip Top Dress from Petit a Petit Patterns, I was all over that with a swiftness. I browsed Cali Fabrics not only looking for kid friendly prints, but also non-traditional fabric substrates that are low maintenance yet make a big statement. If she wants a dress, I want to make her a dress she’ll be proud of!
After drooling over the variety of rayon gauze Cali has to choose from, I selected this Bright Multi Butterflies on Black Rayon Gauze which is just gorgeous and perfect for my girl, and the built in wrinkles and crinkles make it easy for me to stick in the wash on delicate cycle, pop in the dryer on low, and hang right up without ever having to touch my iron (gasp!). When I received my butterfly fabric I pre-washed it, just to make sure I didn’t have any future shrinkage. Although rayon gauze isn’t really a difficult fabric to sew with, it does come with a few challenges like any gauze fabric does.
I took care to ensure when I cut my pattern out that the fabric was on grain, which to be honest can be a bit tricky with rayon gauze because of the crinkles. I didn’t want to stretch it out and distort the fabric. It wasn’t very difficult, I just had to be patient and use lots of pattern weights. The dress pattern has a few options, and we chose the neckline pleats with the keyhole opening. The pleats were easy enough to sew even with the crinkles, but I did need to add lightweight interfacing to the keyhole facing fabric to stabilize it (since the seam allowance was very small there, I also wanted to limit any seams pulling through the fine weave of the fabric). I finished the neckline with hidden bias tape that was made from black woven cotton. I typically like to make bias tape with the same fabric as the dress, but for this gauze it would’ve become a wonky mess, and the woven cotton added the structure the neckline needed.
Unfortunately the pleats do get a little lost in the gauze’s texture, but I like the shaping the pleats provide. I was tempted to just use the elastic neckline pattern option, but I felt it would’ve bulked up too much, and with the pleats, the gauze is able to keep the clean neckline despite its crinkles.
Finally, I finished the sleeve and bottom hems with a rolled hem on my serger to maintain the flowy look of the dress. I did test several scraps of rayon gauze to adjust my serger’s settings to get the look I was after, which was somewhere between simple rolled hem and lettuce hem. The sleeves were a bit finicky because some of the fabric is on the bias the way they’re cut, so I had to make sure I didn’t pull too hard on the fabric and stretch it out while serging.
This fabric is absolutely beautiful when worn, and because there isn’t a lining underneath, it seems to float on the wind when she moves.
She is pleased as pudding with her big girl dress! She’s even requested more dresses made with rayon gauze, so I’m planning a few more. I’m taking advantage of the opportunity while I can! Do you have any non-traditional kid’s fabric that you like to sew with?