Most people are very familiar with cotton, a plant grown throughout the American Southeast and used for textiles. But what do you know about rayon?
First manufactured in the early 1900’s, rayon or viscose was the first economically viable man made fiber. Although it is man made, rayon is NOT synthetic, rather it is made out of cellulose fibers, primarily wood pulp or sometimes bamboo. The name comes from the combination of “ray” indicating a ray of sun, plus “on”, the last two letters of cotton.
Rayon is more absorbent than cotton and linen, making it the most absorbent plant-based fabric. Unlike synthetic fabrics like polyester and acrylic, rayon and cotton are breathable and therefore cooler and more comfortable to wear on hot days. Rayon is also easily dyed, and does not build up static electricity or pill (unless it is low quality made from short yarns). However, rayon is more processed than cotton, requiring a 19 step process, instead of cotton’s 7 step one.
Rayon’s major shortcoming is it’s tendency to shrink in hot water or dryer heat. It also looses strength when wet, as opposed to cotton which remains strong. For these reasons, the best way to launder rayon is to wash it in cold water, roll it in a towel to absorb excess moisture and lay flat to dry.
At Shenandoah Moon, we are proud to carry clothing made out of cool, comfortable cotton and rayon fabrics. Stop in soon to check out our stylish and flattering tunics, dresses and sweaters/jackets from Lost River Clothing Co, Parsley & Sage, and our two fair trade clothing importers Unique Batik and Sevya.