Chiffon was first made with silk, making it a luxury fabric primarily for the upper class. Today, it maintains its seal of luxury as it is still used to make garments for special occasions and events. Nylon and polyester chiffon have since been introduced and have significantly brought down the price, which has created greater accessibility to the fabric. With multiple blends on the market, chiffon is rather versatile. However, with beauty sometimes comes pain, and chiffon falls victim to this scenario because it is quite difficult to sew. Below we will map out the need-to-knows about chiffon and how to tackle it when sewing.
Chiffon is made from fibers other than silk, like cotton and synthetic materials like polyester or nylon. Polyester is by far the most popular today. These blends offer a more affordable price range and a variation in fabric properties. Made by an alternating twist method, s-twist and z-twist crepe yarns are tightly twisted- creating a slightly rough texture. Yarns are then joined together as a plain weave- a single weft/warp design.
Chiffon has fiber contents that differ slightly from one another, but the characteristics below remain relatively the same unless otherwise noted.
- Slight stretch
- Strong structure
- Luminous (unless made with matte fibers like cotton
- Excellent drape
- Holds dye well (except polyester)
- Prone to fraying and snagging
- Resilience depends on fiber content (silk is not resilient, and polyester is)
- Breathability depends on fibers used (silk is not breathable, but polyester and cotton are)
- Care for with caution
- Silk- dry clean only
- Polyester and nylon – hand wash or use a gentle wash cycle
- Lay flat to dry and keep out of direct sunlight
Note: To avoid dye loss, do not soak in liquids
Tips for Sewing with Chiffon
Being quite slippery, this can pose challenges for cutting and construction. A combination of working slowly and using the tips below will make working with chiffon much easier.
- Make sure that your lengthwise and crosswise grains are perpendicular when cutting
- Pretreat fabric before sewing
- Place on a non-slip surface or between tissue paper to cut and sew
- Use fabric stabilizer
- Use pattern weights or silk pins to prevent slippage
- Cut in single layers (for cut on fold pattern pieces, trace one side then flip the piece over and repeat)
- Use sharp shears or a rotary cutter
- Mark fabric by making tailor tacks
- Fine threads work best
- Use a throat plate with a small opening
- Use a walking foot to feed the fabric through smoothly
- Use a very fine new needle like a size 9 or 10, or microtex needles, to prevent snags
- Sew with a smaller stitch length using french seams, finish with serge or zigzag stitch, and use a rolled or narrow hem to complete garments
- Tie off stitches by hand instead of backstitching
- For interfacing, use chiffon or use organza for a stiffer interfacing
From bridal gowns to home decor, chiffon adds a touch of elegance to any occasion or space. Don’t let the opportunity to sew with chiffon slip right out of your hands because it’s a bit trivial to sew. Try out the sewing tips from this post, and you’re sure to complete your projects with less fuss.
Which type of chiffon do you prefer to use when making your garments and projects?
Drop a comment below!