Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tips for Sewing with Chiffon


Chiffon has a bad reputation as being one of the most difficult fabrics to sew with.  Chiffon is a lightweight, sheer fabric made from polyester, cotton, or silk. It is slippery, shifty, and frays very easily.  However, I have some tips for you so that sewing with chiffon is no longer a challenge.  If this is your first time sewing with chiffon I suggest using an easy pattern with few curves and minimal seams.

The following topics will be covered in this tutorial:

  • Prepping
  • Cutting
  • Sewing
  • Hemming


Supplies needed:
  • Chiffon Fabric
  • Small universal needle - size 9(65)
  • Plain Gelatin (enough for ¼ cup)
  • Bucket or tub large enough to cover fabric with water
  • Thread for fine fabrics (polyester, silk, or mercerized cotton; sometimes sold as lingerie thread)
  • Rotary Cutter and mat OR scissors and tissue paper
  • Pattern, iron and pressing cloth, sewing machine, and/or serger
  • Wonder Clips or Fine Pins
Tips for Prepping Chiffon:
The single most important tip I have to make Chiffon less challenging to sew is to first give the fabric a gelatin bath. This makes the fabric stiffer to sew with, resulting in less shifting. Once the project is finished, a quick hand wash removes the gelatin and the fabric returns to its normal drape and texture.
To give the fabric a gelatin bath, fill a bucket or tub with warm water and add ¼ cup gelatin.


Stir for 2 minutes so gelatin dissolves.


Add fabric and make sure to submerge.  Then push out any large air bubbles, and stir the fabric around for a minute to ensure the gelatin is being distributed in the fabric.


Leave to sit for at least 30 minutes (I let mine sit an hour just to be safe). After the soak time has ended remove the fabric and place on a bathroom towel. Roll the towel up carefully to remove some of the moisture from the fabric.


Do not twist or squeeze the fabric because it will remove the gelatin; we just want to remove some of the moisture. Then place fabric to dry on as flat a surface as can be found.


When the fabric is dry it is ready to be cut.

Tips for Cutting Chiffon:
  • Use a cutting mat and rotary cutter
  • Use pattern weights instead of pins (I use tuna cans). If you must use pins, use pins for fine fabrics and pin only in the selvage.
  • Cut pattern pieces as a single layer, cut nothing on a fold.
  • If using scissors, place tissue paper under the fabric as well as the pattern tissue paper on top to create a sandwich (as seen below, however you will want to cut through all three layers at the same time). This helps stabilize the fabric while cutting.

Tips for Sewing Chiffon:
Set the needle stitch length to 2mm or 12 stitches per inch. This is a short stitch length that should be used for lightweight fabrics.

Use wonder clips instead of pins to hold fabric together


Instead of sewing a reverse stitch, hold the ends of the loose thread toward the back of your machine when starting to sew.  Then tie the ends of the string in a knot to lock the first and last stitch.


If the machine tries to eat the fabric, slip a strip of tissue paper under the fabric while sewing. It can be torn or washed away when finished and keeps the fabric from getting pulled into the needle plate. Also, if you have a straight stitch needle plate and/or straight stitch foot, use them. 

Sew seams with French seams because serged seams can be seen from the outside of the garment.


Press from wrong side of fabric, use a pressing cloth and no steam. The temperature should be a low setting such as for synthetics.

Tips for Hemming Chiffon:
Before marking hems, let garment hang for 24-48 hours in case the fabric grows. 

There are a few different ways to hem this light fabric.  My favorite way is to sew a rolled hem with my serger.  I strongly suggest using textured nylon (or wooly nylon) in the upper looper because as you can see here it makes a much nicer hem. 


A narrow hem  can be achieved by hand sewing, using a narrow hem foot with a regular sewing machine, or using Ban-rol. 

Ban-rol can be used to achieve a flawless narrow hem with a regular machine.  Recently I found a tutorial by Oliver + S that explains this technique.  In the most simple of terms, sew a frayed edge of the ban-rol to the bottom of the fabric, flip it away from fabric, sew, flip to wrong side and sew again, remove the ban-rol by pulling out the frayed edge and what is left is a beautiful narrow hem.
When finished with your project, a quick warm hand wash with a little detergent will remove the gelatin and return the fabric to original. Chiffon garments should always be hand washed and laid flat to dry.


Chiffon can be used to make a wide variety of garments such as lingerie, infinity scarves, blouses, and breezy jackets.  Do not be discouraged by this lovely fabric, follow these tips and sewing with chiffon can be relatively pain free!

For my project I used View D from McCall's 7200.  I made the size XS and modified it to fit my 9 year old.  After a quick tissue fit, I found I had to remove 1.5" from the height between shoulder and waist (over the bust area).  I also shortened it to the cutting line for views A,B,C. Perfect fit. It took 1 yard of Chiffon.

 I also combined the back panel with the side panels before cutting so the back is 2 pieces (yoke and bottom) instead of 4 pieces (yoke, 2 side panels, and center back panel).  I tried my best to match up lines where seams met.  Can you see the top yoke below? :)

Here is the inside view.  French seams make the insides look just as nice as the outsides.

Thanks for taking the time to read through my tutorial.  I hope you find some helpful tips for your next project.  This is my entry into Week 3 of FabricMart's Fabricista Fashion Challenge.  Head over to the FabricMart blog and see everyone's entries (during the day sometime on Wednesday, September 30th).  Don't forget to vote for your favorite!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fabricista Fashion Challenge Week #2!

First, I want to say thank you to everyone who voted for me last week!! I was so excited, and surprised to win for the week!!  Thank you!!

This week we were to take a Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress as our inspiration, and make a wrap dress.  This challenge was difficult for me because it was so hard to pick which era I wanted to go with for an inspiration dress! In the end I choose to make my dress inspired by her recent line.
Here is my inspiration dress:
challenge2 inspiration dress

I chose Vogue 8379 as my pattern and made some adjustments for my body type.
*1/2” swayback
*1/4” forward shoulder adjustment
*1/2” square shoulder adjustment
*Size 14 for shoulder, 16 for bust/waist, and 20 for hip (all 1 size lower than my measurements for less ease)


I’ll be honest, I’ve never made a wrap dress and never worn one either. However, the pattern instructions are great and walk you through each step with helpful pictures. I made a test dress first, it fit well and only minor tweaking was needed so I moved on to the final dress.


I love that there is an opening in the bottom of the bodice on the right side to allow one of the straps to go through when wrapping around. I don’t love that there is a ton of ease in the sleeves. Yuk.  I used my serger for most of the seams, only using the regular sewing machine to baste when instructed.


I was inspired by the current line of DVF dresses because I love a great color blocked outfit. Sometimes dresses look awkward on my body (due to my pear shape) so the solid on top with print on the bottom helps keep a separation between my top and bottom halves. I wanted to keep the iconic ¾ length sleeves with the flared cuffs but left off the collar to keep it more modern looking. Can you believe I actually put the cuffs on the wrong way at first? Ugh! I had to sit and unpick the serging from each one and then re-attach the correct way. 


I blind stitched the hem by hand and tacked down the facing on both the bodice and skirt in selective places to keep them from flipping out. I disliked the idea of a center back seam on the skirt, but understood after cutting my material that this is the only way to save on fabric. I was very careful to match the print on the center back seam to try and hide the fact that a seam is there.



I’m very pleased with my dress and happy to have made something out of my comfort zone that I’ll actually wear.


Fabric:  2 yards of “Regal Blue Poly ITY” from Hancocks; I had to pick this up on Friday specifically for this challenge.  $12.74.  2 yards of “Watercolor Floral Print ITY” from FabricMart, purchased July 2015, $9.00.  I absolutely love this fabric and will hoard my last 2 yards as long as I can!

Total for the dress: $21.74
Total time spent sewing the dress: 4 hours


This week’s entries are all in and posted so head over to FabricMart’s blog to see them and vote for your favorite!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fabricista Fashion Challenge Week #1!



The Fabricista Fashion Challenge has begun!  Week 1 challenge is to take one handmade garment that I previously made which turned out wrong (be it the fit, the design, the color, etc) and remake it into something better. 

Old skirt

collage challenge 1 old skirt

You guys remember my recent Burda maxi skirt? I was not happy with the look of the skirt on me. I felt frumpy in it and it emphasized my large hips to much. I do not have an appropriate top to wear with the skirt either. I knew a pear-shape like me should not wear gathers at the hip, let alone the largest part of my hip but the skirt was too cute and I just had to try it.

More Old Skirt

collage challenge 1 old skirt 2

Nonetheless, the style of skirt just isn’t right for my shape.  I did not feel good wearing it so I knew I would never wear it.  Sadly I loved the fabric so I knew I would have to cut it up and make something better from it at some point because I did not want to waste that fabric that I loved. Thankfully this challenge came along.

New Dress!

challenge 1k

Well friends, I cut up the Burda skirt and remade the fabric into Simplicity 1801, a cute sundress. This dress has all the right elements to make me feel great while wearing it. My waist being the smallest part of me, I like to place some emphasis on it instead of my large hips. This dress has shoulder and under bust gathers, a nice smooth yoke at the waist, and gathers at the lower waist in front and back. I like that it does not gather on the sides, leaving that area smooth.

challenge 1g

There is a yoke for the upper back that makes the top fit so nicely. I used a size smaller than my measurements because I do not care for too much ease, sewing a size 12 for shoulder, 14 for bust/waist, and graded to an 18 at the hip. The instructions for this pattern are excellent. Everything is clearly explained and there are plenty of pictures.  I’ve made this dress once before but the fabric was a stiff cotton and the print is not really something that one can just wear everyday (it is a bit bold). 

challenge 1i

Adjustments I made to the pattern:

*I raised the neckline center 1” because it was too low, I also had to adjust the front facing for this, too

*1/4" high round back (this worked great because the back hugs my body so well now)

*1/4" forward shoulder and 1/4" square shoulder – both these are perfect because the shoulder seam now hits my shoulder in the right spot

challenge 1e

Construction: I took care to serge all edges. I used the ivory cotton from the original skirt to underline the whole dress. I stitched the midriff band in the ditch to catch the midriff facing on the backside. I made sure to hand stitch the facings down, catching the underlining only so no stitches were seen on the front sides of the dress. This is the first time I’ve done this, I normally do not enjoy any hand sewing but I wanted to keep the facings down and keep the dress insides looking nice.

challenge 1j

The invisible zipper is truly invisible and I took care to match up the waist yoke seams on both sides of the zipper.

challenge 1a

I had to be very careful when cutting up the original skirt to make sure I had enough fabric for all my pieces. The bodices were cut from the bottom part of the skirt, the top half of the skirt being saved to cut and sew into the dress skirt section. The waist yoke and shoulder yokes were cut from the old skirt yoke. I had to dig and find a tiny scrap of this fabric that I had left to cut out the upper back yoke.

challenge 1f

I ran out of the ivory cotton underlining for the front bodice so I had to use brown cotton I had in scraps; the bias strips for the arm scythe are also in the brown cotton scraps. I had to use some of the scraps from the original skirt floral fabric for the underlining of the back bodice. I just barely made it work; there are no leftovers from the original skirt!

challenge 1h

I’m very happy with the new dress, the fit is just what I wanted and I’m even happier I was able to rescue the floral fabric. I see myself wearing this quite often.  Remake successful.


Fabric: Muted Navy/Beige/White Dappled Leaves Cotton Lawn, 3 yards.  Purchased May 2014 From FabricMart for $5.39/yard ($16.17 total).  The soft ivory cotton was in a mystery bundle also from FabricMart, 2.5 yards? I think. Anyway it cost about $4.  So the total for the dress was $20.17. 

I started tracking my sewing time with a new App on my phone.  I logged in 5 hours of sewing only time on this dress.  I would guess 2 hours on cutting because I had to be sure on placement, then another 1-1.5 hours on underlining all the pieces prior to sewing.  I would guess 8.5 hours total spent on making it.


challenge 1z

Voting is now open over on FabricMart’s blog.  Head on over to see what everyone else remade and vote for your favorite!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fall 2015 Sewing Plans

Ah, Fall is here.  It sure doesn’t feel like it this week with temps in the 90s but it will come soon enough.  Fall is my favorite time of the year.  I love the crisp air, the changing colors, and Halloween.  Here are some of the things I hope to sew for myself this fall.


BurdaStyle 12/2009 #121 Henley with Long Sleeves – With this Navy/Gray Rayon Jersey Stripe finished and blogged
burda 122009 121 henley

navy rayon stripe

BurdaStyle 12/2009 #124 Long Sleeve Flannel Shirt (like an Archer) - With this Yarn-Dyed Cotton Flannel ** I'm still working on this in 2020
burda 122009 124 archer
plaid for archer

Burda 12/2009 #120 Hooded Henley Tunic – paired with leggings for around the house; Maybe I’ll go wild and use this Tie-dye Rayon Jersey
burda 122009 120 hooded henley tunic

tie dye rayon jersey

Simplicity 1283 Cardigan – With this cozy Dark Blue Boucle Sweater Knit

blue boucle

Jalie 3248 Drop Pocket Cardigan – fabric unknown

completed my black one here
completed my gray one here

Jalie 2795 Zip Front Hoodie – Most likely with this Navy Blue Sweatshirt Fleece
blue sweatshirt fabric

Ottobre 05/2013 #1 and #4 Tunic and Raglan Tee – fabric unknown; I blogged 2 raglan's here
    ottobre 052013 1 tunic                                                         
ottobre 052013 2 raglan


Jalie 2908 I need some Jeans! – With various Denims that I have in Stash

Made pair 1 here
Made pair 2 here

Jalie 3022 – I need a pair in black – With this Black Cotton Lycra Jersey finished, blogged here
3022black cotton lycra

Sewaholic 1203 Thurlows – with this soft trouser fabric

trouser fabric

PegLegs Leggings by Patterns for Pirates – To wear under the tunics I am making, various fabrics

I made these here 

BurdaStyle Classics 2013  #0005C Long Skirt – With this Brown/Tan Plaid “Wool Look” Fabric
burda classic 2013 0005 skirt
plaid for skirt


BurdaStyle 10/2014 #105 Envelope Sleeve Dress (Long Sleeves)
burda 102014 105 dressnavy gray ponte stripe


Jalie 2680 Jacket – With this Slate Gray Twill Jacketing

jacket fabric dark twill

Jalie 2572 Shapewear