Saturday, 24 June 2017

Drive by Saturday - Viscose/rayon threads.

Doing a quickie post on Saturday this time.

Lately I've been getting to grips with my crochet skills.   I sew, knit, and craft, but crochet has never been one of my strongest skills, and I want to make some pretty dolly dresses so It's time to knuckle down and get some practice in.

I've come up with a design and pattern already, for a dress and a hat,  which are still works in progress.   Whilst digging through my limited stash of crochet threads, I've found some lovely cotton that I've had a while, and are crying out to be used.  Also, I rediscovered some proper vintage rayon threads (which is the same thing as viscose) that I inherited from my lovely mum.

Rayon has been with us commercially since 1891.  It's classed as a semi synthetic, but is actually made from natural fibres.  It's the process which is chemical, hence semi-synthetic.   Rayon actually behaves very much like cotton when dying.  It has a slinky heavy drape to it, and I adore it, although that slinkiness can be  a nuisance to sew. It can also be a bit awkward to crochet or knit with, but I love the results, so it's worth it.   But I digress.  My mum's threads are at least from the 1960s, possibly even the 40s or 50s.  And it makes gorgeous doll scale dresses because of the drape.

Do you think I can find some new rayon crochet threads for love or money?  They seem so hard to find.  On Ebay, I've seen threads from India purporting to be viscose, but a while back, I bought a load of machine embroidery spools claiming to be rayon, but they turned out to be polyester. Which meant they didn't have quite the same qualities.  (You can't dye polyester very easily.)  This makes me wary of buying threads that claim to be viscose/rayon.

I did find one seller who stocked it in the UK, but it's £7.50 per spool.  Ouch. I must admit to ordering one rainbow coloured spool, purely for research purposes. Heh.

So how do you tell rayon from polyester?

Well, do this over a sink, because rayon is flammable - more flammable even than cotton.  If you hold a lighter flame to a rayon thread, it will flame and burn down quite quickly, so mind your fingers.   If you do the same with polyester, it will melt and you'll get like a clump of plastic. So I'm currently going through my big box of supposedly rayon machine embroidery threads, separating the polyester ones out from the genuine rayon.

What I thought I'd try, is combining 5 or 6 machine embroidery threads together, to make a thicker and very pretty crochet thread of many shades.   I've made a start on a dress, I'll post pics when it's done, but the six spools I'm using are all clattering around in a tub as I pull the thread out to crochet.   This made me yearn for a spool holder, the like of which I used to use at art college (oh so long ago!) when knitting together sewing threads.

One of my housemates suggested I make one, and luckily I had lots of bits and pieces from various craft projects, so I came up with this:

It's cobbled together using 5mm foam construction board, and two 5mm dowels.   I've glued it with Aleene's tacky glue - which is pretty darn good stuff.  But a glue gun might be better if you want to make something similar. It's light, so I'll clamp it to my desk with a G-clamp when using it (loaned by my other housemate.) I've glued things with Aleene's before, such as card mouldmaking boxes, etc, and it's very sturdy once fully hardened.

So that's it really.  I'll blend my sewing threads together and see what kind of dolly dress I can make.

Excuse my blather, but there is a point to all this - Never buy expensive kit if you can make it for pennies!



  1. I really admire your ingenuity Tess and I look forward to seeing the results even though I've never crocheted in my life (can't knit for toffee either!)

    1. I do like making things! I blame it on my upbringing. Will try to post pics when I've made all these dresses..

  2. Love the spool holder that's a fab idea! I spend hours chasing crochet cotton round the floor! Looking forward to seeing what you create crochet-wise... if you want any inspiration I recommend looking at Pinterest for Paola Reina Las Amigas dolls... there are some ladies in Russia (I think) who produce the most gorgeous outfits... I've just managed to recreate my version of an outfit I saw there!

    1. So frustrating chasing reels around, then untangling them which can take forever. I will look the Paolo Reina dolls on Pinterest. I've seen a lot of clever Russian ladies on there already, who do lovely crochet. My main niggle at the moment, is finding a crochet stitch I like, to make the skirt parts of the dresses.

  3. It never ceases to amaze me the things you do with your time, Tess. I spent most of the day today sleeping after staying up all night sewing a doll outfit. I honestly can't recall if I've ever tried to crochet, but I do enjoy knitting with a loom and really went nuts making doll hats awhile back. Knitting is extremely therapeutic and I would imagine crochet is as well.

    And I loved reading your info about rayon. I've always loved rayon, the soft feel and smooth hand and drape it exhibits. Any item of clothing I purchase always warrants a look at the fabric label, and viscose and rayon are some of my favorites.

    Look forward to seeing what you come up with, as always :-)

    1. As a kid my parents were always figuring out ways to make things rather than buy them. It helped that my dad is a master craftsman with bricklaying, roofing and carpentry etc. Yep, I find both knitting and crochet very therapeutic.

      Rayon can be a bit awkward to work with, but it's a lovely fabric or thread. Be careful on Ebay though, sometimes people sell stuff as rayon and it's actually polyester. The drape is not quite as heavy or luxurious.


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