Monday, September 10, 2012

Sewing with chiffon

There's a lot of talk about weddings in our house at the moment. My husband's cousin got married a few weeks ago, and my brother is getting married at the end of the month. His wedding is in Sweden and I offered to sew some bunting to decorate the hall, and bake brownies for the dessert (it is a buffet style reception). The bunting is finished - see picture. Each flag is 2 triangles zig-zagged together, sewn onto fold-over elastic and I ended up sewing 30 metres!

I sewed a chiffon dress for the first wedding, which I will wear again for my brother's wedding - none of my family have seen it ;-) well, except my husband who bought the fabric for my last birthday!
This was my second time sewing with silk chiffon and I was surprised at how much more confident I was. Perhaps the reason I was so terrified of it the first time was more to do with sewing for a friend, than the fabric.

I wanted to sew a dress with cut-off sleeves and a circle skirt for a while, but couldn't find the exact pattern that I had in my head! Eventually I based the dress on a combination of the measurement of a dress I already owned, a 1995 Butterick pattern view C and a circle skirt that I drafted.

There are some basics if you are going to sew with chiffon

  • make sure the pattern is suitable. I would suggest a pattern with fewer pattern pieces, so that there will be less cutting and sewing of chiffon to be done. I chose to sew a style that had a back, front and 3 piece circle skirt
  • Careful cutting on a non slippy surface, (I found this video helpful) preferable using pattern weights
  • Microtex needles, and though some recommend silk thread, I found that regular polyester thread worked fine.
  • Careful sewing by holding the fabric in front and behind the needle - I found the fabric fairly robust to sew with, unless you have to rip out stitches, then it can disintegrate unless care is taken
  • Finish seams as the fabric frays a lot. I mostly used French seams, but also zig-zagged where it would be hidden inside the lining.
  • When I inserted the zip in the chiffon fabric, I stabilised the chiffon with strips of the lining fabric on the zipper stitching line

Hemming a circle chiffon skirt is not for the faint hearted! Before hemming, the skirt has to be left to hang at least for a day or two because parts of the circle skirt are on the bias. Then the hem has to be straightened - this took me about 2 hours!

Sewing the hem was almost easy after that!!! I used a regular sewing foot, a small stitch and 3 lines of stitching.

The dress is also lined in silk, which I sewed separately to the chiffon, then joined at the armholes, neckline and zip. I hand-stitched the lining to the zipper tape.

There are some very helpful tips on the Internet and some I've pinned.

Sewing with sheers

Cutting slippery fabrics

Hemming chiffon

Excellent blog post

The pictures don't reflect the floaty movement of the chiffon skirt when I wear it, except maybe for this picture. Though I don't think it's my colour, the dress feels wonderful to wear, which makes it a winner!

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  1. Thanks for all the chiffon tips! I like the way your fabric has a flowey, watery print on a flowy fabric. Enjoy your brother's wedding!

    1. Thanks Karin, it is such lovely fabric and was bought in my local fabric shop. The whole family is looking forward to the wedding, and with all the travel involved, it should be a great experience!

  2. Thanks Cindy :-) I'm pleased it turned out so well.

  3. You are CLASSY, lady!!! walking down the street in this must attract a crowd of gentlemen offering arms and drinks!