Learn all about sewing chiffon with this step-by-step tutorial. The sound of the word chiffon makes you think of something soft, flowing, gently beautiful, and definitely French. Who would have thought that this luxuriously sounding name would simply translate into a three-letter word…….RAG! Sewing chiffon does not require your regular rag treatment. No this beautiful, flowing and soft fabric requires some dedication and attention to detail. Many of the steps in sewing sheer fabrics apply to chiffon, however, the difference is that it is prone to fraying and stretches easily. This means the cutting and sewing of this delicate fabric needs to be taken seriously.
What is Chiffon?
Chiffon is a lightweight transparent woven fabric that can be made from silk or synthetic fabrics. It is commonly used in wedding and evening wear and can be layered or lined to reduce its transparency. Read more about what is chiffon. Chiffon drapes and layers elegantly and is also a fabric of choice for lingerie.
Chiffon can be slippery to sew and special consideration needs to be taken.
The story of chiffon could be the original rags to riches story!
Sewing Chiffon In 3 Easy Steps
Step 1 – Cutting chiffon.
- PREPARE THE CUTTING SURFACE – Cover the surface you are using to cut chiffon with tissue paper. This will protect your table as well as holding the chiffon in place. Shiny tables are hard to cut this fine fabric on as it tends to slip around.
- CUT INDIVIDUALLY – Lay out the chiffon in single pieces and cut each part of the pattern individually. If a piece needs to be cut on the fold, trace around one side of the pattern and then flip to draw the second side which will be a mirror image.
- DON’T PIN – Hold down the fabric with weights instead of pins. Weights can be of the commercial variety or simply tins from your pantry. Pins will mark the fabric badly. Alternatively, pin in the seam allowance where it will not show in the finished garment. If you do want to use pins, special silk pins are available that are extremely sharp and fine.
- SMOOTH THE FABRIC – Keep the fabric as taut as possible to prevent stretching and slipping. Ensure there are no wrinkles in the fabric before you cut.
- SCISSORS – Sharp scissors or a rotary cutter is essential. Blunt scissors will produce a ragged edge. Keep in mind that chiffon frays easily, so if necessary, increase the seam allowances.
- HANG – If your fabric looks wrinkled, hang it up overnight instead of ironing. Alternatively, hang it in the bathroom while you have a hot shower and let the steam in the air do the work.
Step 2 – Preparation for sewing Chiffon
- TRANSFER – Transfer any markings with tailor tacks and not pins. If you want to use chalk, test first to see if it will remove without marking the fabric permanently.
- STAY STITCH – Stay stitch curved edges to prevent stretching and slipping.
- SETTINGS – Check your sewing machine needle sizes and sewing machine tension settings. You will need to use sharp and fine needles.
- SEAM ALLOWANCES – Chiffon frays a lot so increase the seam allowances if necessary.
- LINING – Chiffon is transparent so you may need to consider using a lining.
Step 3 – Sewing chiffon
- SEWING CHIFFON- Follow the same guidelines recommended for sewing sheer fabrics but remember that chiffon frays very easily.
- TEST – Always test sewing on a scrap before you start sewing chiffon and check the sewing machine tension is even.
- NEEDLES – Try a smaller universal needle, size 60/8 or 65/9.
- STITCHES – Test shorter stitches 1.5-2.0
- THREAD – Choose a fine thread of good quality.
- BASTING – Pins can easily slip out of fine fabrics such as chiffon, so hand baste all seams before sewing with a long running stitch with a fine needle.
- STARTING – When starting the stitching, hold the fabric behind and in front of the foot.
- FINISHING – Instead of backstitching, tie the ends in knots. Alternatively, instead of backstitching at the ends which may cause bulk and puckering, reduce the seam stitch length to 1.0 at the ends.
- DON’T PULL – Chiffon is very fine and may rip if you pull it as you sew. Let the sewing machine do the work and be very gentle. Also, make sure that the chiffon fabric doesn’t catch on the edge of your sewing table. Make sure there is nothing sharp nearby.
- UNPICKING – Sew carefully as unpicking can leave holes and you will risk ripping your fabric. If you do need to unpick, use a new and sharp seam ripper and go slowly in a good light.
- USE TISSUE PAPER – Really fine chiffon may be stabilized with tissue paper underneath. When you have sewn the seam, you can rip the tissue paper away: gently of course. A lightweight stabilizer can also be used.
- SEAM FINISHES – Use French seams for sewing chiffon seams. A French seam encases the raw edges to create an attractive edge that won’t fray. It is most suitable for straight edges.
- HEM – Hem with a narrow rolled hem foot. Wide hems look unattractive and you will see the raw edge through the fabric.
- PRESSING – Press gently with a pressing cloth and your chiffon garment should be looking fantastic. Synthetic chiffon should be pressed with the iron on a very low heat.
Voila, the garment is finished and you know all about sewing chiffon!
Sewing Chiffon – In Conclusion
Now you know all about sewing chiffon, all you need is a petit pet to go with your gorgeous outfit. You could try a designer dog called the Shiffon! It is a cross between a Shih Tzu and a Belgian Griffon……a beautiful little piece of fluff to sit beside you in your chiffon outfit as you feel like a Parisian princess.
READ MORE ABOUT SEWING DIFFERENT FABRICS
- CHIFFON – Sewing Chiffon
- BATIK – What is Batik
- CANVAS – Sewing Canvas
- COTTON – Sewing Cotton
- DENIM – Sewing Denim
- FELT – Sewing Felt
- FUR – Sewing Fur
- KNITS – How to Sew Stretch Fabric
- INTERFACING – Types of Interfacing
- LACE – How to Sew Lace
- LEATHER – Sewing Leather
- RAYON – Sewing Rayon
- SHEER – Sewing Sheer Fabrics
- SILK – How to Sew Silk
- THICK – Sewing Thick Fabrics
- VELVET Sewing Velvet
- WOOL – Sewing Wool