Sewing with a sheer fabric doesn't need to be stressful. The biggest issues that the Bees had, and lets face it they all had issues with this task except the wonderfully cool Lorna, was time. So take your time, read this article I wrote for Sewing world magazine on sewing with chiffon and give it a try! Go on I dare you! If you can get it right a sheer blouse is so cool and sophisticated (as long as you have the right undergarments!!)
SEWING WITH CHIFFON
Chiffon is, even for the most experienced sewers a tricky fabric to sew with. It slips and slides about all over the place and as it is sheer the insides need to be as neat as the out sides.
Here are a few tips to make it work for you.
When cutting out your fabric start off by finding the biggest surface you can, as being able to cut it all out in one go rather than in sections will prevent the second layer from slipping about giving you uneven sized pieces. Lay the fabric out in a single layer as cutting through 2 layers can move the fabric as well. If you like to use weights to cut out your pattern make sure you use plenty of them to hold it in place. If you prefer to use pins make sure you have special fine pins designed for delicate fabrics, often called silk or bridal pins.
When pinning take care not to pull and stretch the fabric so that it remains in the right shape. Using very sharp scissors or a rotary blade to cut the fabric. You may find it easier to cut through the pattern at the same time as the fabric rather than before as it can stabilise the fabric (though bear in mind cutting paper with your dressmaking scissors will blunt them)
Once you have cut your fabric I find it best to pin then baste the pieces together before sewing. It can take a long time but is so much easier than trying to unpick stitches from chiffon which will leave unsightly holes along the unpicked seam.
I always recommend using a new sharp needle in your machine but with chiffon fabric this is more important than ever as any rough bits on your needle will leave messy snags in chiffon. Again I always say this but test your stitches on a scrap of fabric before you start sewing, if the tension is too high the fabric can get puckered up and even pulled into the bobbin hole.
When you start sewing your fabric use long stitches to prevent the chiffon from stretching and try to sew from the hem up to the waist. This prevents you sewing into the grain of the fabric as this will cause stretching.
French seams look great on chiffon fabrics as they enclose the messy edges and help to stabilise the fabric. To sew a French seam you place the 2 piece of fabric together wrong sides together and sew close to the edge. Press the seam all the way open. Trim along the cut edge of the fabric then turn the fabric right sides together. Finally sew the two sides together again, this time enclosing the cut edge inside the new row of stitching.
Chiffon fabric needs to be left to settle once it has been sewn so press it lightly, I find using just the steam of your iron without actually touching it works really well. Then hang your garment for 24 hours before hemming to allow the fabric to drop as it will when wearing. This will prevent wonky hems on your finished garment. You may even want to leave your fabric to sit for an hour between each step the whole time you are sewing to help it settle.A rolled hem is perfect for finishing a chiffon garment as it is very narrow and will not be seen once the garment is worn. The neatest way is to sew along the hem by machine then trim as close to the stitch line as your dare. Weigh the fabric down at one end and simply roll the fabric between your fingers until the stitching is hidden. You can then use a slip stitch to finish the hem by hand.
Feeling ready to give it a go? Here are some fabric and pattern suggestions. I have included some cotton voile fabrics as well as chiffon as these are so much easier to sew with than silk or polyester because they don't slip about as much, you still need to keep those seams nice and neat though.
Now you just need to pick the one you like best and jump in...slowly of course!
|Matilde cotton voile|
|Zeeta cotton voile|
|Colette Sencha blouse|
|Tilly and the Buttons Mathide|
Happy sewing xxx