She sews sheer shirts for sister Suzie…a tongue twister! Sewing sheer fabrics – a blissful experience or something to tie you in knots?
Sewing sheer fabrics need a bit of careful planning and an understanding of the fabric you are dealing with. Sheer fabrics are soft and draping. They flow and flutter as you are trying to cut and sew. Taffeta, chiffon, organza, and voile are all in the sheer fabric category. They are unforgiving of mistakes and so a few helpful tips for sewing sheer fabrics will help make the most of this type of material.
Sewing Sheer Fabrics
Step 1 – Pattern Choice
- Choose the pattern you are going to sew very carefully. Sheer fabrics need the minimum amount of details. Less is more when it comes to making the most of sheer fabrics.
- Avoid zips, large darts, facings and anything that will show through.
Step 2 – Pattern Layout and Cutting
- Sheer fabrics are difficult to cut out. It is a good idea to cut each piece separately as the fabric slips and slides.
- Do not use carbon to mark the fabric. Instead, use chalk or tailor’s tacks.
- Use weights to stabilize the fabric when cutting.
- Insert pins into the seam line so as to avoid damaging the fabric prior to sewing.
- A cardboard cutting board helps with securing the fabric and pins can be pushed into the board.
- A rotary craft knife is a good option for cutting out pieces. Alternatively, use very sharp scissors and cut with care
Step 3– Sewing the Garment
- It is always a good idea to sew on a scrap to test the tension of your machine, the size of your stitches and the needle you are using. (Read sewing machine tension and sewing machine needle sizes)
- Sheer fabrics tend to pucker as they are sewn so a little test drive is really important.
- A loose tension with a shorter stitch is recommended.
- Try a smaller universal needle, size 60/8 or 65/9.
- Don’t backstitch sheer fabrics as the fine material tends to jam in the machine. Finish off the ends by tying them in a knot.
- French seams are a great option for sheer fabric seams but they are not suited to the armholes and neckline. A run and fell seam works better in these areas.
- Sew seams with utmost care because unpicking damages the fabric and leaves ugly holes in the garment.
- The use of tissue between the seams or a stitch starter (a piece of fabric to start the seam on) is a good idea. The stitch starter is removed after the seam is completed by gently unpicking it from the beginning of the seam or trimming it off when you neaten the seam. This prevents the machine from chewing up the first few centimeters of your precious sheer fabrics.
- Hold the fabric tight in front and behind the seam as you sew the sheer fabric. Once again practice this technique so that you know exactly the kind of pressure needed for your fabric. Practice makes perfect!
- If you are battling to sew the fabric on your sample then a fabric stabilizer could be the answer.
Step 4 – Finishing off
- It is a good idea to let your garment hang for 48 hours to allow any stretch or give in the fabric to ‘hang out’.
- Hem your sheer fabric with a very narrow rolled hem to keep the draping quality of the fabric in the finished garment.
- Always press with a presser cloth. Sheer fabrics tend to react badly to direct heat!
Sheer fabrics definitely have their place in the fashion world. If you have the patience and follow the recommended sewing tips there is no reason that your garment shouldn’t be a sheer, uncontested success.