Polyester vs Rayon: Difference Between Rayon and Polyester

If you have been keeping up with the different types of fabrics, then you should know that they are all classified into three categories. There are natural fibers, synthetic fibers, and in-between fibers. The latter classification is for those fabrics comprised of the other two categories.

One of the biggest differences between these two fabrics is that rayon is made from natural fibers with some chemicals added while polyester is made from petroleum products and a lot of chemicals added.

To learn the difference between both fabric products just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can choose the right fabric for your next sewing project. It only takes a few minutes of your time to see these differences.

Differences Between Rayon And Polyester

To allow you to skim quickly over the differences and save some of your precious time we have created this quick comparison chart. You should be able to see the differences in seconds not minutes.

Number Rayon Polyester
1. Semi synthetic fiber Synthetic fiber
2. Better for warm climates and environments Better for cold climates and environments
3. A delicate fabric that needs special care A durable, tough material
4. Prone to shrinkage Resists shrinking
5. Allows wrinkles to appear Also resists wrinkles
6. Can tear very easily, much like cotton does Resists tearing and can be used in rough and tough situations
7. Has a very good drape to it Does not drape that well
8. Prone to shrinking and stretching when washed Resists shrinking and stretching when washed
9. Can be a very smooth fabric to the touch Is not that smooth when you touch it
10. Designed to mimic silk Designed to last you a long time
11. Can be dyed quite easily Takes a lot of work to change the color
12. Can withstand higher temperatures Doesn’t like the heat at all
13. Breathes quite well Does not breath that well
14. Absorbs moisture very well Resists moisture and doe snot absorb it that well
15. Can be expensive to purchase Cheaper than rayon and other fabrics

Polyester vs Rayon Thread


This comparison can get a little heated as both threads have their supporters and they will defend their choice vigorously. One difference that makes people choose rayon thread over polyester is the luster or shine the former thread has. Polyester doesn’t compare.

Polyester may come in more brilliant and vibrant colors than rayon thread can. But rayon thread, if it is like the fabric, is made to mimic silk so its beauty is often overshadowing the artificial look polyester brings to the competition.

Then polyester thread may be stronger than the rayon version but rayon thread accepts dyes better. Polyester threads usually do not change color providing you with a look issue you rather not have to deal with.

While rayon has achieved some success in branching out beyond home decor use and fashion wear, polyester is still the champ when it comes to being submerged in chlorinated water. Nothing but polyester will do in this situation.

Finally, the rayon thread is softer than its polyester opponent. It just has that feel of the rayon fabric and provides less irritation at the tie-off spot as well as throughout the whole garment. That gentle touch is seen in how easy rayon thread is on embroidery equipment. Polyester just doesn’t match up here.

Polyester vs Rayon For Warmth

There is no doubt about who wins this category. Rayon fabric was not meant to be worn in cold temperatures. It is a lightweight fabric for the most part and it does very little to keep the cold away from your body.

On the other hand, polyester is designed for cold weather and its lack of breathing ability provides evidence for that fact. Polyester is warmer than rayon and can be used in situations that would ruin the rayon fabric if it were worn in everyday winter clothing.

This does not stop manufacturers blending the two fabrics for winter clothing as the look of rayon trumps the look of polyester. Adding the former to the latter makes the winter clothing look better while still not sacrificing any warmth.

One thing about rayon, when it is warm out it does not usually lose its drape. The fabric should not cling to your body like polyester will when the temperatures get hot. You stay cooler with rayon in the late spring to early fall seasons making you more comfortable than you would be if you wore polyester.

Is Polyester or Rayon Cooler - Warmer?


Rayon is a lightweight fabric that drapes very well. It also breathes easier and lets a lot of the heat escape your body so you do not overheat and sweat abnormally. Then rayon is often blended with polyester, nylon, and other synthetic materials to add a sense of coolness to the outfit.

Polyester fabrics tend to be on the warm side of the fabric world and it doesn't drape very well, often clinging to your skin and making you feel uncomfortable. What polyester loses in coolness it makes up for in strength, durability, and less work in the laundry end of things.

When it comes to warmer temperatures, polyester is the fabric that is recommended by most experts to avoid wearing. Some people do say that you should avoid wearing rayon when it gets hot out but that defeats the purpose that fabric was designed to fulfill.

While rayon is often called artificial silk, and made to mimic that material, it is a great fabric to wear when the event you are going to will be hot and humid. It is a cool fabric that takes special care but in the long run, you will be more comfortable when romance is brewing.

Polyester vs Rayon For Clothing

This is a toss-up competition because each fabric was designed to fulfill a specific purpose. We just mentioned that rayon was made to mimic silk and that is a very good purpose because you can feel like you are wearing that expensive material at half the cost or more.

On the other hand, polyester was designed to make laundry life a little easier. Its resistance to wrinkles, shrinking, and tears make it an ideal fabric to wear when you are going to get dirty and messy.

Then while rayon looks better than polyester, the latter fabric lasts longer and can handle rough and tough activities that would make rayon wilt just looking at those activities.

But it is the looks and drape department that makes rayon so special. It outshines polyester by a country mile and when you start to heat up, this fabric does not lose its drape. You can move, sit, and stand better than if you were wearing polyester.

These differences do not make one fabric better than the other because as we said, they both were made for different purposes. Those purposes make each fabric ideal to wear in the situations they were made to work in.

Rayon vs Polyester Pants


This will depend on what time of year you are wearing the pants made from each fabric. Polyester is not good to wear in the summer especially if you are a person who sweats a lot. When a pretty girl looks at you and you start to get that warm feeling, polyester is not your friend.

Rayon is supposed to absorb moisture without loses its drape or feel. That is a good property to have when you are trying to make a great first impression. Sometimes rayon is used for dress pants to give you that great business-like appearance.

The real difference between the two fabrics lies a lot in the quality of both materials. They say that you shouldn’t buy rayon dress pants if the material feels stiff. That may be so but polyester is not going to feel good if the temperatures that day are high.

The quality of the fabric is going to play a large role in which fabric is better when wearing them as pants. Many manufacturers cut corners to save a buck and you end up paying the price no matter which one you buy.

So to save some money in the long run, opt to pay more for the higher-quality fabrics and then use those pants in the seasons and events they were intended to be worn.

Rayon vs Polyester Cost

In this head-to-head competition, price is always a factor and needs to be considered. What is good for your pocketbook is good for you and your family. The cost of anything is important even if you have lots of money to burn.

In this category, polyester is again the champ. While rayon is said to be cheaper to produce, the cost of rayon is sometimes double or triple polyester of the same quality. This puts rayon in a unique position as it is supposed to be cheaper than silk, yet it may not be affordable for some people because it still costs a lot.

Polyester is said to be really cheap material which is why it became so popular when it was first introduced in the 1960s. That was not the only factor that made polyester so popular.

Rayon is a good material but it does not have all the qualities that polyester has which is why many people tend to stay away from using that fabric in their sewing projects. But in the end, you are the one who will decide which fabric you will purchase.

Both have great uses, great characteristics but rayon is better to wear when you live in a hotter climate. Or when you will be attending an event, like the opera, where the heat is turned up.

So, is Polyester or Rayon Better?


This is a good question. As we just said, both fabrics have their own unique properties that make them ideal under certain circumstances and in different situations. They also have their own seasons in which they will excel.

In all honesty, this is almost like comparing apples to oranges as both fruits have vitamins and minerals that you need. Plus, they have their special place in different meals that you can prepare.

For durability, wrinkles, shrinkage, and tearing, polyester is better than rayon. It is hard to beat toughness when toughness is required Yet, on the other hand, rayon is better when you want to stay cool, look natural, and not artificial and have a gown that drapes well. Polyester just does not have the sophistication that rayon comes with.

All we are going to say is that both are best when they are used in the situations they were designed to be used in. Both have their good points and bad ones. So we will leave this decision to you and your preferences.

Which is Easier To Sew With: Polyester or Rayon

They say that rayon thread is easier to work with than polyester thread.part of that assessment comes in how rayon is gentle on embroidery equipment over the treatment polyester thread gives out.

Also, rayon thread is softer than its opponent so that gives it extra marks. Then you may find that polyester fabric is easier to handle when sewing as it may not be as slick or lightweight as rayon materials.

One reason for that is that rayon can fray a lot easier than polyester can.

Some Final Words

In this head to head competition, you may think that one fabric has the edge over the other. In some cases that is true but in others the tide changes and the losing fabric becomes the winner.

The key is to use the fabrics for their intended purpose and you should be fine.

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