Silk chiffon is soft, floaty, and so, so, delicate. Yes, it’s a bit finicky, but so worth the effort if done right. I’ve been working on a chiffon kimono, and thought I’d share my notes on working with silk chiffon. Here are my ten tips for working with silk chiffon, an elegant and often expensive fabric. A little preparation beforehand makes the difference!1. Lay your chiffon on top of a clean sheet when cutting out your pattern.
This will keep the chiffon from shifting around on the table. Also use very fine pins and pattern weights. Thick quilting pins will leave small unremoveable holes.
2. If possible, buy a straight stitch plate for your machine.
Chiffon has a tendency to get pulled down into the feed dogs when being sewn with a regular foot. I use my straight stitch foot whenever I sew with delicate fabrics like chiffon and silk charmeuse.
3. Try using a straight stitch foot for your machine.
This will also help avoid getting the chiffon pulled down into the feed dogs and it will give you a prettier looking, more uniform straight stitch. Like a vintage straight stitch machine does. The straight stitch foot and needle plate make a great team for sewing anything delicate.
Here is an affiliate link for a universal snap on straight stitch foot, here is one for Brother machines, and one for Janome. And here is where I complain about not being able to buy any Bernina accessories online, but have to drive an hour away to my nearest dealer, instead.
4. Reduce your stitch size to about 2 and only use a straight stitch.
As a general rule, thicker fabrics need a longer stitch, and thinner fabrics need a shorter stitch. This makes removing a seam a pain, so make sure you do your fitting before the final stitching.
5.Use a size 60/8 needle
Because needle holes in chiffon are just plain ugly. So use the smallest needle you can. That way if on the off chance you do make a mistake and need to unpick, and it happens to everyone sometimes, you don’t have those unsightly holes in the chiffon. I also would recommend buying the Microtex needle which sews more precisely than a Universal needle. Here is an affiliate link to the size 60 Microtex needle.
6. Sew with French seams.
This gives the classiest looking finish in my opinion. Nothing ruins the elegance on a lovely chiffon garment like the heavy handed and factory made look of serged seams…. see rule 6. French seams say, ” I was made with patience and care because I am a gorgeous and uncommon fabric. No short cuts for me!”
7. Avoid using a serger on silk chiffon.
It is not only unattractive to have bumpy serged seams on the inside of a chiffon garment, but the extra thread on those semi transparent seams will just not be as pretty as French seams. The extra thread can give a bumpy look on the outside, and you can see the serged seam, if the chiffon is transparent. Not that I’m against sergers, I have one and love it, but I would never use it on silk chiffon. It’s like using a weed wacker to prune your roses.
8. Use this method for sewing hems with a machine.
Iron the hem over 1/2 inch. Make one seam just to the side of the fold line, about 1/8 inch. Now trim off that extra seam allowance very carefully with embroidery scissors to a scant 1/8- 1/4 inch. Fold the hem over again about 1/4 inch and sew again . This will encase the loose threads in a very small and unobvious hem. however, a hand sewn rolled scarf hem is probably the most elegant and lovely looking hem on silk chiffon. But it is time consuming, for sure.
9. Make sure to turn you iron setting to low.
It is very, very, easy to burn a hole in chiffon! I’ve done it.
10. Always use a press cloth when sewing with silk chiffon.
You should always use a press cloth anyways , but if you don’t ,make sure you do when sewing with chiffon. The tiniest bit of dirt on your iron or a water leak can ruin your project. Some seamstresses like to use silk organza, but I prefer a piece of white cotton voile.
Now go sew some silk chiffon!