Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sewing Chiffon and Sheer Fabrics

Chiffon can be a fussy fabric, but oh so beautiful when sewn! For that reason, it is well worth working with it. I have some tips of what I do to help keep in under control. I am sure you have many others, and please share with us!

Straight of Grain
For a nice straight hem, it is important to find the straight of grain.
  • Snip the selvage.
  • Find a thread and pull it all the way across. Takes a bit of time, but worth it.
You can see the difference and how uneven it was. Didn't look that bad just 'eyeballing' it. Cut off the excess. I do use a Martelli ruler since it will not slip. Any good ruler works, just make sure it doesn't slide on the fabric, or you will have to do it all over again.

Cutting Chiffon and others
  • Place tissue pattern paper under the fabric. Pin or place weights. Cut through the pattern paper and the fabric. Cuts very straight! (recycle those old unwanted tissue patterns - perfect to use).
  • Cut as a single fabric.
Starting the rolled hemmer is the important step to a straight hem.
  • Fold edge of fabric about 1/8" (a distance of only about 2 inches from edge). Finger crease.

  • Lower your foot, having the needle enter near the edge of fabric. Take a couple of stitches.
  • Raise the foot. Pull the back threads with left hand, and wiggle the hem into the hemmer scroll. A little jiggling will get it in properly. You will know it is in the scroll when you can't move the foot backwards any more.
  • Lower the foot and begin sewing, keeping the back threads and fabric a little taunt. It is important to keep the mouth of the hemmer full of fabric for an even hem.
But it then goes off track!
  • Stop. Raise the foot. Jiggle it again as you did at the beginning. You will feel it insert back into the fabric. Lower the foot and continue sewing.
After practice, you will feel very comfortable adding lace while hemming. See that slot in the hemmer? Slide the lace or trim in that slot. I do have nice instructions in my book, The Sewing Machine Attachment Handbook, page 62 - 65.

Another hemming option for sheers is to make a lettuce hem. No worry about keeping it all straight and it is lovely.

Needle Plate
Use a small hole needle plate so the fabric doesn't get pushed into the hole. If you don't have a small hole, put some tape over the hole. Lower the needle several times (no thread) to make a hole in the tape. Works in a pinch!

Machine Needles
I like to use very sharp needles size 60/8 to 70/10. I also use the Microtex needle as made for sheers. Change your needle at the start of each sewing project!

Play around with some scraps and get comfortable working with this fabric. Share other tips you have. Love to hear them.

Happy Stitchery,


Anonymous said...

First, thank you for these wonderful, illustrated directions on the rolled hem! You are the person who taught me how to use this previously impossible attachment -- the directions in your book unlocked the mystery for me.
And now a question: do you ever use light starch on your chiffons? I have read about people spraying it on, to control the chiffon, but I'm always concerned about the effects of starch and then rinsing water on the fabric, especially a fine silk. Thanks.

Charlene said...

You are so very welcome! Glad you are using the sewing attachments.

I don't use any starch on my chiffons, or silks. I am not a fabric expert but some chiffon can have a finish on it that will leave a watermark when washed. Could always try on a small piece to practice first and see. I am one for starching LOADS of things to sew easier, but not these fabrics.

Maybe others will chime in.

Happy Stitchery!

Anonymous said...

In regard to finding the straight of the grain, when you say "snip the selvage" what do you mean? Cut it all the way off down the length of the fabric?

Charlene said...

Hi Marcia,
Glad to clarify. Don't cut it down the fabric. You are just cutting "into" the selvage to find the thread to pull. So you are not cutting down, but across (crosswise). Hope this makes sense. If not, let me know and glad to post a pic!


Sewing Machine Reviews said...

I am not so skillful in terms of hemming that is why I really read your article. I learned theories and techniques to handle it in a quality result. I hope I can make it!