T-shirts and the evils of rayon

This weekend I absolutely forced myself to sew up some t-shirts. I've had this pile of knits from fabric.com sitting on the floor for a few months, now transformed into six new t-shirts. They were a combination of organic cotton, "bamboo", rayon, and conventional cotton.

Whenever I sew with rayon knits I remember how much I love working with them, usually I shop around to see if I can replace what I've just used. In googling around this weekend I happened to come across a posting on one of my all time favorite blogs fashion-incubator concerning bamboo and the controversy in labeling that type of fiber. This led me down the path to researching deeper into rayon in general and I was a bit disturbed by what I found.

In a very small nutshell:
  • bamboo is rayon
  • the cellulose that rayon is produced from comes from plants that are likely grown organically
  • making rayon is an extremely toxic process that produces undesirable waste products
  • there are various methods of making rayon (cellulose fabrics), some more toxic then others
  • some rayon has lead residue in it
Gosh, rayon... I'm not feeling so hot about it now. I'll enjoy what I have remaining in my stash but I don't think I'll be purchasing any more. It's not that I'm trying to prove a point or trying to play the I'm more green then you game. If anything I'm just offended, especially by the bamboo marketing strategy and greenwashing in general.

Does this go for all cellulose based fabrics? Acetate too? I think it might.... for now. Once my stash is used up then I'll revisit need plus want divided by guilt and see how the numbers look.

Besides that... I'm sewing linen pants! I haven't worked with linen all that much and considering these new developments I might be seeking out more linen. I'll see how the pants sew up and let you know.

This weeks video is all about t-shirts of course, I also show off my awesome new Italian ski jacket and the fabric for those linen pants. I have to apologize, I forgot to turn off the auto focus on the camera so you'll notice it keeps popping the focus but not enough to make anyone dizzy (I promise). I figured it was better to keep it spontaneous then re shoot.

18 comments :: T-shirts and the evils of rayon

  1. Another great show. Thanks for showing off your t-shirts. I always poo-poo'd making t-shirts myself because I couldn't see the point. Your t-shirts are colorful and creative, and I get it now. They look great on you.

  2. Cool shirts!!!
    Did you make the pattern from a shirt you already had? Or design it yourself?

  3. Hey Jonathan, the t-shirt pattern started out as Burda 8329 but I made a lot of modifications to the fit. I also redesigned it to have the yoke that was similar to a RTW t-shirt I have. At this point there's not much Burda left in my pattern... When does a pattern become self drafted anyway?

  4. I googled the Burda 8329 pattern. It's just a basic tee. It looks nothing like what your finished shirt. Nice job!

  5. I absolutely love your t-shirts! I wish my husband would wear things like that. Love the stripping, you have a great physique that is suitable for those funky t-shirts.
    Thanks for the tip on the rayon. I steer clear of that kind of thing and had no idea.

  6. Hey Brian. Another great video. I love the brown and the bits and pieces t-shirts the best.

  7. love all your t-shirts! you inspire me to start learning how to use my serger (i've had it for a couple of months but it intimidates me). it is also good to know about rayon because i never bought any stretchy fabrics before.
    you are going to brazil? so cool!
    oh, and let me know what you think about linen, it is my favourite fabric, but now always the easiest to sew.

  8. TY so much for showing us all the possibilities with left over material and a simple, classic pattern. And your jacket from TJ Maxx was an absolute FIND! It's rainy and cold here in the Pacific Northwest. Days like that are made for sewing but I also miss my old home near you--in Navarre Beach, FL.

    Keep up the great blog.

  9. Where are you, Brian, we miss you! Hope everything's okay...

  10. Yes, missing the action on this blog.

    MOAR plz.

  11. Great vid; very creative and cool t-shirts.

    I have much the same moral dilemma with rayon. And most rayon is made out of the country because the processes violate too many US environmental and manufacturing regulations.

    And to really get depressing, silk is worse. Although there is "peace silk".

    I feel your pain. sigh.

  12. Really....! I was thinking silk would be my natural alternative to rayon, of course then I looked at the price. Yikes

    I will admit that I used my Joanne's 50% off coupon to purchase more of that acetate satin I've been using for lining. I got 6 yards at just over $2 a yard, but the guilt is priceless.

    I even eyed some rayon knits while I was there, Oh rayon knits.. how I hate to love you.

  13. Hey Lorrwill, it's great to have you!

  14. Hi Brian. I love the wave T-shirt. Are you going to make the pattern available? I would love to make some tees for my husband. (He really gets left out on the sewing thing b/c we have two girlie girls!). Great job and you have incredible taste on fabric. I can't believe what you are able to pick out at WALMART!???? Great job ~Page

    PS What stitch did you you use to sew these up - I don't think you have a serger - hmm? (:

  15. Really comfortable shirts. Great for the gym i use them frequently and they've held up really well. MLB

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