One word; chiffon. The word alone can send even the most experienced sewers into a panic with a look of torture in their eyes. If you have ever worked with chiffon before, you can probably relate to what I am talking about; messy hems, crooked seams, and tears in the fabric from bunching in the machine. It can be one of the most difficult and challenging to work with no matter what your sewing experience level is. However, with the right techniques, you will be able to conquer sewing with chiffon.
1/2 yard jersey knit fabric
1/2 yard chiffon
Here are my tips and tricks for sewing with chiffon:
1. Use fine pins to avoid creating holes in the sheer fabric.
2. Use a thin needle size in your machine.
3. Use good quality, fine thread that is polyester or cotton.
4. Cut the fabric with very sharp blades. Be sure to sharpen your scissors or rotary cutter before cutting out the garment pieces.
5. Use weights when cutting the fabric out. It has a tendency to shift, stretch, and slip. This can affect the grain line, drape of the garment, and overall fit.
6. Hand baste garment pieces together before sewing. This will keep them from stretching or shifting and affecting how your garment turns out. It will also make sewing easier and faster with less mistakes.
7. When you first start sewing, hold the threads from behind and guide the seam into the machine. This will help prevent all the threads bunching up, twisting, ripping and getting your fabric caught in the throat plate. You can also try using a stabilizer on the seams.
8. Always use French seams when working with chiffon. A serger, overlock seam will work, especially in addition to using a stabilizer, but with the fabric being so sheer, there are possibilities that it could rip over time. A French seam involves sewing each seam twice with no raw edges showing and will add stability to your piece.
9. Always hem chiffon garments with a narrow or rolled hem.Consider investing in a rolled hem foot for your machine to make this hemming process simpler.
10. When hemming chiffon, take the time to pin all the way around. It tends to shift and is a trouble area that often has to be taken out and redone more often.
Things to avoid when working with chiffon:
1. Steer clear of choosing chiffon for garments that have buttons & buttonholes. The fabric is so sheer and delicate that buttonholes have a high probability of ripping your garment.
2. Most zippers, plastic and metal, are too heavy for chiffon and light weight fabrics. They will not lay flat and will look extremely bulky. I would suggest other closure forms, such as a keyhole back with a hook and eye.
3. Do not choose garments that have a lot of pieces. This is creating more work for yourself and ultimately, the more pieces you have to sew together, but better chance you have of making mistakes. You are more likely to quit the project before it is finished.
4. Do not buy cheap chiffon. It will have a lot of static cling that will stick to your body and make your garment look unflattering when worn.
5. Do not choose chiffon as your fabric if you do not have the time and patience to put into your garment. If you plan on having it done quickly so you can wear it right away, I would suggest making something else. Chiffon is not a fabric that you can work with quickly. It takes extra time and effort.
When to use chiffon:
1. Chiffon is great for over-sized looks and simple tops that can be slipped on. It creates a beautiful, flowy silhouettes.
2. It is a great complimentary fabric. Consider making the majority of a garment out of a different fabric and using chiffon as cut outs or accent details.
3. Simple garments with 5 or less pieces.
4. Cover-ups, overlays, and other layering pieces.
Knit Top Project
This project is a top made mainly of knit fabric with chiffon details. This design is relatively simple and only requires a little bit of chiffon. It will give you a small taste of the fabric to test out your skills instead of diving straight into an all chiffon piece.
I chose a gray jersey knit fabric for the base of the top and a floral patterned silk chiffon for the garment details.
Begin by laying out the pattern pieces and cutting them out. Click here or go to my Patterns tab to access the exact pattern that I drafted for this project.
First, with right sides together, sew the side seams and the shoulder seams of the knit top together. I used a serger to sew the knit fabric. As I mentioned in my previous sewing tutorial, Maxi Madness- Part 2, there are other methods to sew knit fabrics on a regular sewing machine, such as using a ball point needle on a regular sewing machine.
Next, sew the chiffon triangle piece to the both sides of the top. Lay out flat, pin into place and sew with right sides together. Again, I used serging because I am attaching it to a knit fabric.
Sew the neckband piece together at the ends. Fold in half with the seam on the inside and stitch along the neckline, stretching it smoothly as you go to ease in the neckline. The neckband is cut smaller because the stretching prevents it the neckline from drooping.
Next the sleeves. Start by stay-stitching around the top edge of the sleeve piece. Sew the edges, with right sides together, up the length of the sleeves.
Pin or hand baste the sleeve into the armhole. Stitch around the arm hole and ease the sleeve in.
Finally, hem the garment. Hem the sleeves using a narrow hem. This may be difficult because it is such a sheer area to hem. Use a metal presser foot and pins to keep it from slipping. Also, hem the bottom; the knit fabric and the chiffon inserts. Be sure to make it look seamless when transitioning between the two fabrics.
The finished garment styled on the body.
How how do you feel about chiffon? Ready to jump into a more difficult project? I would love to read your thoughts, leave me a comment below. Tune in tomorrow for Coffee, Croissants, & Chiffon-Part 3, where I will offer my tips and tricks for styling chiffon for fall weather.
Until next time,