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.
What are Sheer Fabrics?
Taffeta, chiffon, organza, some silks and voile are all in the sheer fabric category. These are all fabrics that are fine and transparent. 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.
Common Sheer Fabrics
- Tulle and Netting
Sewing Sheer Fabrics
Successfully sewing sheer fabrics depends on great pattern choices, precise layout and cutting and finally great sewing skills.
Step 1 – Pattern Choice
- PATTERN CHOICE - Choose the pattern you are going to sew very carefully. Sheer fabrics need a minimum amount of pattern and garment details. Less is more when it comes to making the most of sheer fabrics.
- DETAILS CHOICE - Avoid zips, large darts, facings and anything that will show through.
Step 2 – Pattern Layout and Cutting
- SINGLE CUTTING - When sewing sheer fabrics, keep in mind that they are difficult to cut out so it is a good idea to cut each piece separately as the fabric slips and slides.
- MARKING - Do not use carbon to mark the fabric. Instead, use chalk or tailor's tacks.
- PINNING - Use weights to stabilize the fabric when cutting. Don't use pins that might slip out. If you must use pins, insert them into the seam line so as to avoid damaging the fabric prior to sewing.
- CUTTING BOARD - A cardboard cutting board helps with securing the fabric and pins can be pushed into the board.
- SCISSORS - 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
- TESTING - 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.
- TENSION - A loose tension with a shorter stitch is recommended.
- NEEDLES - Try a smaller universal needle, size 60/8 or 65/9.
- STARTING - 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. Alternatively, 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!
- ENDING - 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.
- FINISHING - 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.
- UNPICKING - Sew seams with utmost care because unpicking damages the fabric and leaves ugly holes in the garment.
- STABILIZER - If you are battling to sew the fabric on your sample then a fabric stabilizer could be the answer.
Step 4 – Finishing off Sewing Sheer Fabrics
- HANGING - 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’.
- HEMS - Hem your sheer fabric with a very narrow rolled hem to keep the draping quality of the fabric in the finished garment.
- PRESSING - Always press with a presser cloth. Sheer fabrics tend to react badly to direct heat!
Sewing Sheer Fabrics - In Conclusion
Sewing sheer fabrics definitely have its 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.
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