Chiffon is one of the most beautiful fabrics to use in your apparel projects, but can also be one of the more challenging fabrics to work with. Its delicate nature can be intimidating to sewists, but fear not! With some patience, the right tools and few simple tricks, sewing chiffon is easier than you think!
For these tips, we used the following supplies:
- Chiffon Solid Coral Fabric
- Pattern Weights
- Machine Needle, size 70/09
- Walking Foot
- Cutting mat
- Rotary Cutter with a Fresh Blade
- Sharp Pins
- Fine Weight Thread
- Heavy Starch
Preparing the Fabric
Laying and cutting the chiffon properly is step 1 for success. This step takes patience, but will make construction much easier, and the final product will be higher quality.
Snip a piece of fabric so that you can locate a warp (vertical) and weft (horizontal) thread. Pull those threads out of the fabric, and you will have created your own guide to the grain of the fabric. Laying it on a gridded cutting mat will allow you to line up the absent warp and weft thread lines with the grid.
*Tip: When removing the warp thread, do it closely to the selvage so the absent thread isn’t visible in your fabric pieces. When removing the weft thread, be mindful of how the pattern will be placed on the fabric, so that the fabric pieces will not have a missing weft thread.
Use pattern weights instead of pins. This prevents fabric shifting from all the work you just did laying out the fabric properly.
Instead of scissors to cut out chiffon, use a fresh, sharp rotary blade on a cutting mat to cut the chiffon. This cutting method prevents the fabric shifting. You just spent all that time getting the fabric warp and weft lined up with a pattern, no need to discard that by handling it with scissors.
Now that your fabric pieces are beautifully cut, use fine sharp pins to pin pieces together.
When sewing, use a walking foot and a sharp machine needle, size 70/09 or less. Fine weight, or bobbin thread is recommended. Avoid backstitching, and hand tie thread tails.
French seams are ideal for chiffon. Check out this video for French seams. A 4-thread overedge stitch on a serger will work as well, just adjust the differential feed on your serger so that the stitches are closer together, since chiffon is easily unraveled.
A rolled hem, or narrow hem on a serger is ideal for chiffon. A great trick for a rolled hem with chiffon, is to stitch the first role with a ½” fold under, trim the excess to 1/8”, turn again and topstitch.
For neck and arm openings, a bias strip binding is best. It is easily achieved with a trick: heavy starch. If the chiffon is machine washable, give the chiffon bias strip and unfinished edges a spray of heavy starch, and iron to set. The chiffon turns into a crisp, organdy-like fabric that is easy to work with.
The heat from an iron has a magical way of de-warping fabric and seams from sewing.
This leads us to emphasize our favorite chiffon sewing tip: heavy starch! The only downside is that it’s not recommended for silk chiffons. Once the fabric pieces are cut, starching 2” of the fabric edges make sewing chiffon easier than ever. Simply machine wash and dry your finished project to remove the starch, and it will be soft, flowy and sewn beautifully.
Happy sewing with chiffon!