Working with chiffon can be an altogether daunting task. After all, it’s one of the most delicate fabrics out there. Its mesh like weave gives the material a truly unique semi-transparent quality which proves popular in the fabrication of a whole variety of beautiful garments, such as saris, ballet skirts, and elegant evening wear. For those interested in homeware, it can also be used to make window scarves and canopies. However, this very quality makes it seemingly difficult to sew and finish to a high-quality. Perhaps this is why we so often leave the fabrication of chiffon based items to the specialists. This is a shame, as with a little inside knowledge, there’s no reason to avoid this lightweight, plain-woven wonder fabric. This is where we come in to help. Brush your fears aside and read on for our comprehensive guide to sewing with chiffon. You’ll be incorporating it into your own projects before you know it.
Types of Chiffon
- The most traditional form of chiffon
- Natural fibres
- Lightweight and cool
- Fine, smooth, and lustrous
- Great for scarves, blouses, and hair accessories
- Less slippery
- Retains shape well
- Ideal for homeware
- Absorbs moisture
- Good drape
- No static build up
You are unlikely to have to pre-clean your chiffon before working with it. Once your project is complete, bear in mind that you should never throw this fabric in the washing machine. It is generally best sent to the dry cleaners, but can be hand washed with extreme care.
When working with chiffon you may find it a little difficult cutting the fabric, as it is so lightweight and can often be slippery to the touch. To help, you should use a padded cutting board. Spray this with a thin coat of adhesive and add tissue paper. This will help to prevent your chiffon sliding about as you try to cut it. If you’re going to be using chiffon regularly, we’d recommend getting a sharp pair of scissors and putting these aside for exclusive use on chiffon. As the fabric is thin you want the cleanest cut possible. Your scissors won’t dull if used solely with this fabric. Alternatively, you could use a brand new blade on your rotary cutter.
Once you have your pieces ready and set to go, it’s time to start focusing on sewing. Most of us start out by pinning our fabrics. This is essential, especially for a fabric that is prone to slipping and sliding. One potential problem that lies in wait from the start is the marks and holes that pins can make in such a delicate material. It’s best to invest in specialist silk pins or slim pins. The sharper the end point, the less noticeable a mark the pins will leave in your fabric. Before you start sewing, change your sewing machine’s needle to a fine point needle and load the machine with as fine thread as you can find. Ideally, your thread should never be heavier or thicker than your fabric. Next, set the stitch settings to 12 stitches per inch. You can stop the machine from swallowing the fabric (which is common with such light materials), you need to ensure that the throat plate opening on your machine is the smallest available.
Now for the tricky part. Hemming chiffon can be relatively difficult if you have no experience with the fabric. Deep hems will show in the fabric. But not to worry. A small rolled hem is the way to go! If possible, make life easier for yourself and use a serger to sew this in. This will trim and enclose the hem allowance on the fabric in one simple step.
So, do you love or hate working with chiffon? Let us know how your project turns out below! Good luck!
Take a look at our chiffon fabrics here.