A fabric created from a semi-synthetic fiber that is similar to silk, but has a more elastic, high luster quality giving it a bright sheen.
Rayon is one of the most perplexing fabrics in commercial use today. It is derived from naturally occurring cellulose but is not considered a natural fiber. Cellulose requires extensive processing to become rayon.
Production of rayon began in the 1880s in France. It was originally developed as a cheap alternative to silk. It is one of the oldest manufactured fibers. It wasn’t until the 1920s that a patent was claimed on the process of creating rayon by Dupont Chemicals. It was quick to become a household word and took the world by storm because of its rich texture and low cost.
The manufacturing of rayon begins with cellulose, frequently extracted from wood pulp, although any plant material with long molecular chains is suitable. The cellulose is steeped in a caustic soda which is later shredded into a substance called white crumb. The white crumb is allowed to oxidize, release inorganic compounds, and changes into a vicous substance. It is then aged, refined, and spun into a fine thread that enters a setting solution for form the final cellulose filaments which then become rayon.
Rayon is used in many, many ways. Because of the way the fiber is spun it drapes well, dyes easily and is highly absorbent. You can find it used in t-shirts, blouses, easy flowing skirts and dresses, and even washcloths and towels.
Because rayon was developed as a cost effective alternative to silk, it drapes beautifully. You will find beautiful applications of rayon fabric in many bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses.