Sewing Chiffon Tips

Posted by on Apr 17, 2013 in Sewing | Comments


chiffon

Chiffon is a lightweight, sheer fabric made from cotton, silk or synthetic fibers. It’s used frequently in evening wear and lingerie, but also works well for blouses or other light, airy garments. Chiffon can be quite slippery, which makes it tricky to work with. It’s not recommended for your first foray into machine sewing, but if you’ve got the basics down, it’s worth giving it a shot. Here are a few sewing chiffon tips to make the process easier:

Cover your cutting surface with tissue paper. Lay your fabric on top of the tissue paper and your pattern pieces on top of the fabric. Cut through the tissue paper. This will keep your fabric from shifting around as you try to cut. After cutting the fabric, let it rest for about 30 minutes before sewing.

You can also try using a liquid stabilizer to help stabilize the fabric throughout the construction process.

Use fabric weights to keep the fabric smooth and taut as you cut. Use new, fine-tip straight pins to prevent snags and holes in the fabric. If you can, baste your pieces together rather than using pins at all.

Cut through only one layer of fabric at a time. If you have a pattern piece that needs to be cut on the fold, make a double of the pattern piece and tape it together so that you can cut the piece out without folding the fabric.

Use tailor tacks instead of cutting notches. A tailor tack is a doubled length of thread run through the fabric at notches and darts. Use a contrasting color of cotton basting thread.

Perhaps one of the most important sewing chiffon tips is to always begin the project with a new, sharp needle in your machine, and, if possible, a straight stitch needle plate. The straight stitch needle plate will prevent the chiffon from getting sucked down into the needle hole.

You’ll want a fairly short stitch length– somewhere between 12 to 20 stitches per inch. Of course, always test first to adjust for your fabric and machine.

Avoid back tacking. Instead, make sure you leave enough thread at the beginning and end of your seam to hand knot.

If you need to use interfacing, look for a silk organza interfacing.

Chiffon is prone to stretching so be careful as you feed the fabric through the machine. If it does get stretched out, you can usually steam iron it back to its original size.

Press seams flat before pressing them open. This helps to set the stitches and gives you a pucker-free seam.

French seams are a great option for finishing seams on a chiffon garment. Not only do they look pretty, neatly hiding the raw edges of your fabric, but they will help stabilize the garment and prevent it from warping.

Although chiffon can be difficult to work with, the good news is that the drapey nature of the fabric will hide minor imperfections. Take your time, sew slowly and you’ll be pleased with the end results.

Have you sewn with chiffon before? Let me know what sewing chiffon tips you’ve discovered to make sewing with it easier.

For more tips on sewing with tricky fabrics check out Sewing with Silks or explore Sewing with Knits.

Comments

  1. Kel says:

    I have sewen with Chiffon for formal wear, and lingerie. I use a serger it finishes the raw edges in one step. you will have to trim your seam allowaces from 5/8″ (usual pattern seam) to 1/4″ seam allowance. Since the serger trims the seam allowance for you, I just cut my pattern to the specified seam allowance and trim as I sew on the serger.
    I recently made a Chiffon shurg with a ruffle for my daughter’s wedding. Instead of of finishing the ruffle on the sleeves, around the neck and closure edge, with a rolled hem, I used Fabric Tac. By putting a thin line of Fabric Tac around the outer edge, it was light and felexable without the added weight of a sewn hem. It also will hold up to washing.
    Kel

    1. marla says:

      I love the Fabric Tac suggestion. Never knew it existed. thanks so much!

      I have a serger and want to try heming chiffon this way. What are your settings?

  2. Jan says:

    It just so happens that I am hemming a chiffon prom dress right now with my absolute favorite chiffon sewing tip. I pinned up the hem just a fraction longer than desired finished hem length. Stitch very close to fold. Carefully trim away excess fabric close to stitching . Turn up hem about 1/8 to 3/16 and stitch again. I carefully press with a pressing cloth and low heat. Best hem ever!

  3. Rosalee says:

    Great tips, thanks “sew” much!

  4. Candace Garner-Just For You Sewing says:

    Thank you so much for the tips! I have a client who wants a dress made that will be partially made with chiffon. I have never worked with chiffon but I have worked with satin on a bridal dress I recently finished. Knowing how tricky the satin was to work with I welcome all tips on working with this next challenge of the chiffon. I learned how to put in french seams for the bridal dress so I am happy that one of your tips was to use French seams with chiffon. Thanks again will post pictures when I am finished.

  5. Marie Prater says:

    When I have a slippery or even a sticky piece (like vinyl) I use biodegradable toilet tissue under it and in some cases another piece on top.
    It works very well for me.

  6. Karin Hewitt says:

    When i want to use chiffon i put it in sugar water and let it dry then it is stiff so it is much easier to cut and make and as soon as the carment is finished i just wash it again and it is soft and fluffy again !!!!

    1. Lesley says:

      This sounds a great idea, but what proportion of sugar/water per yard/metre of fabric would I need.

      Should the fabric be dried flat and would it need to be ironed before you layout and cut?

      I’ve made several things now with chiffon and have often felt it could have looked better so I am looking forward to trying this technique. Thanks!

    2. Needlewomyn says:

      I’ve also read about using gelatin the same way.

  7. Needlewomyn says:

    Baste the pattern to the fabric? On the sewing line or in the seam allowances? OI assume you were still talking about the laying and cutting out.) Won’t that rip the pattern? What if there are fitting changes, although the major ones would have been worked out in muslin?

    When you say “look for a silk organza interfacing,” I assume you mean use silk organza as a sew-in interfacing. Or are there fusible silk organza interfacings (not that I would use them)?

    I don’t cut much slippery fabric, but I use freezer paper as a stabilizer (draw the pattern on the paper) or I chalk the fabric and use serrated shears that grip.

  8. ram bou says:

    It’s been a long time since I sewed with chiffon. Since I started machine embroidery, I’d recommend purchasing some water soluble stabilizer, dissolving it in water and putting the chiffon in water. let it dry, then sew. That would stop the slipperyness and wash once the garment is complete to make it it soft & drapy again.

  9. Amelia says:

    I have had success in stiffening chiffon temporarily by using spray starch. Just lay the chiffon out flat, making sure it’s on grain and spray. No need to iron it, just wait for it to dry. I would only recommend this for chiffon that is washable.
    Also, if you are working with polyester chiffon, you can use a wood burning tool to cut it. I have had the most success with a point that looks like a pencil. I have used it in place of hemming the bottom of a chiffon overlay on a flower girl dress and also in place of hemming vertical flounces on a prom dress. It takes a little practice and it’s best if you can get a tool that has the capacity for temperature adjustments. Also, you need to work on a heatproof surface. Fortunately, I have a glass topped dining room table which was perfect but I have also worked on a heat resistant countertop.

  10. R.FVaz says:

    There are alot of tips on sewing chiffon, it scares the witts out of me to sew a chiffon material,now I think I can do this. Thanks for the tips.

  11. Deborah says:

    What about using a rotary cutter. Would that work. The last time I tried to work with chiffon was nearly 20 years ago. My daughter was going to the Girl Scouts’ father/daughter dance. She wanted a pink satin dress with a chiffon overlay on the skirt. I had such a time trying to hem that full skirt and get even with the underskirt. If I told you what my solution was, you’d either laugh or send the sewing police after me. :-) I wish you’d been around back then with these great tips. A few years prior to that, I’d made a similar dress for myself for a formal event and had no problems at all. Perhaps it was the type of fabric. Anyway – I won’t be sewing on chiffon any time soon!

  12. tegan says:

    hi, thank you, i dont know what this means. (Press seams flat before pressing them open.)

    1. Din says:

      It means press the seams as they are after they’re sewn (with both sides together – like a closed book) and then open the seams and press them again (like an open book). Hope that helps.

  13. Laura says:

    I’m making my 2nd nylon chiffon pettiskirt and find my gathering is being pushed out or loosened by the pressure foot as I’m sewing the bottom ruffle to the bottom tier.. This somehow is causing the gathers to be tighter on the area yet to be sewn ( 4-5 inches away from the point being sewn)
    ( I hope that makes sense )

    Does anyone have suggestions ??
    ( I’ve read nearly all pettiskirt tutorials and none mention an issue)

    Thanks in advance!!

    1. Deane says:

      place the ruffle as the first layer then the flat piece of fabric. The pressure foot will be sitting on the flat fabric. .

  14. LY says:

    I use ballpoint needs in sewing chiffon, and also with other fabrics that are thin and easily runs.

  15. Isla says:

    Can silk chiffon be “let out” without showing the old stitching holes?

    I want to buy a dress that was altered, and let it out to its original size. Does anyone have any experience with or thoughts about this?

    Thank you!