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Tips for Sewing with Chiffon

Niina Kivelä

Venice Dress in Chiffon 3.jpg

Blogger: Rachael Alcon

Tips for Sewing with Chiffon

chif·fon

/SHiˈfän/

Noun 

  • a light, sheer fabric typically made of silk or nylon.

  • "a chiffon blouse

Chiffon Blog 1.jpg

As beautiful as Chiffon is it can be tricky to work with, but with a few tips and tricks its actually pretty easy to use!

    1. Use sharp scissors or rotary cutter, sharp pins, (or just use lots of wonder clips) and sharp sewing machine needles.

    2. Use tissue paper when cutting your chiffon.

    3. Use a tighter stitch when sewing. 

    4. Use the French seam method, or serger to finish visible seams.

    5. Hem with a narrow hem or rolled hem.

    6. Iron with lower heat or steam with steamer to remove wrinkles

Sharp is key with slippery fabrics! Use nice and sharp fabric scissors or a rotary blade to cut the fabric. When sewing slippery fabrics, use a Microtex Sharp Needle. It will be easier to sew, and the fabric is less likely to pull or slide away when using Microtex Sharp Needles.

Cutting Chiffon

Cutting out pattern pieces can be tricky. A good tip is to lay down a piece of tissue paper - i.e. the tissue saved from birthday party gifts! Then place the chiffon on top of the paper; the fabric will static cling to the tissue paper making it easier to cut.

Lay the patterns piece down and secure with either pattern weights or sharp pins. If possible, cut the pattern pieces on a single layer of fabric. The fabric will shift less with a single layer — just don’t forget to mirror pattern pieces that are cut on a fold line.

When cutting out the pattern piece, cut through both the fabric and tissue paper layers. This step will help with handling the fabric later. If necessary to cut a pattern piece out on the fold (i.e. through double layer of fabric), take extra care to make sure fabric is smooth and lined up properly. Use lots of pins or pattern weights to keep the fabric in place. 

For rectangular pattern pieces - like a skirt or sash pieces, the “RIP IT” method is helpful. Simply mark the measurements at the top of the fabric, cut a 1” slit into the fabric with scissors, and quickly tear the fabric apart. The fabric will rip in a straight line with minimal fraying. It's very satisfying!

Sewing Chiffon

When sewing with chiffon use a tighter stitch; this well help keep the fabric smooth and straight. Now that it’s time to sew the pieces together, don’t forget to switch out the needles for the “sharp” ones. If you didn’t buy any of those bad boys, a new needle will work as well.

Now for a fun trick! To avoid having the fabric sucked into the machine, position the fabric in place and ready to sew, pull the needle and bobbin thread making sure both threads are under the presser foot, and pull on the threads while starting to sew. This step will keep Chiffon from getting sucked into the machine. In fact, this works really well for any stubborn fabric!

Chiffon Blog 4.jpg

French seams work very well with chiffon, it helps protect against fraying, plus Little Lizard King has a great video tutorial showing how to create French seams! A serger is a great way to sew chiffon, but a zig zag stitch will work as well. 

Hemming Chiffon


Hemming! This might be the most intimidating part of sewing with chiffon, but its actually very easy. A narrow hem works great for chiffon. Set the iron to a low heat, and press the bottom, raw edge up 1\4”; then sew 1\8” from the edge. Trim the raw edge as close to the seam as possible. Then fold and press another 1\4” and sew 1\8”from the edge. There will be one line of stitches on the main side of the fabric and 2 on the wrong side. If extra stability is needed when hemming, use a washable starch on the fabric. My favorite hem for chiffon is a rolled hem using the serger. I like to play with a contrasting thread for this since you can see the thread!

Chiffon Blog 5.jpg

Ironing Chiffon

Don’t get the iron too hot! Since chiffon is a synthetic fabric (made from plastic) it will melt if the iron is too hot. Most irons have a polyester/silk setting, but it's always a good idea to test the iron setting on a piece of scrap chiffon. Use lots of steam!  You can also use a streamer; I love using a steamer on fabrics and dresses!

Well I hope these tips and tricks help make sewing with Chiffon a little less intimidating. Chiffon is a great fabric, and one of my personal favorites to use with LLK patterns.

Featured here the Venice Dress and the Cape patterns.