Chiffon shopping guide
There are plenty of different chiffon fabrics that come in a wide range of colours and are made from different fibres such as polyester and silk. Let us explain the difference between these fabrics and what you need to keep in mind when using chiffon fabric for your sewing projects:
What is chiffon?
Chiffon is a light, airy and delicate fabric. These characteristics don’t really correspond with its name, which originates for the French word for ‘rag’. The Arabic term ‘schiff’ makes more sense, as it means something like ‘transparent fabric’.
Due to its thin grooves that make its surface feel slightly wrinkled and irregular, chiffon can sometimes feel like sand between your fingers. This is caused by rotating threads, turned in different directions - grège fibres - that are woven together to create a loose plain weave. The result is an extremely lightweight, sheer but very delicate fabric. Its light weight and special texture make this fabric flowy and soft.
Chiffon fabrics are produced using natural or synthetic silk.
If you like to indulge in a bit of luxury, you should invest in elegant silk chiffon. This has an impressive delicate quality. If you’re looking for cheaper chiffon fabric, you will find a huge range of chiffon made from polyester.
- Chiffon fabrics include silk chiffon and polyester chiffon
- Chiffon fabrics made from synthetics are cheaper than silk chiffon
- Very lightweight, sheer material with a grainy hand and a flowy drape
Chiffon - the eveningwear fabric
Chiffon fabrics are the ideal choice if you’re looking for something for a special occasion. Chiffon is an excellent addition to taffeta and silk in eveningwear or clothing for special events. Its flowy drape makes women’s eveningwear weightless, elegant and luxurious.
Chiffon shouldn’t just be limited to eveningwear. This light and airy fabric is “the” summer fabric to see you through the warmer months. Lightweight shawl, top or tunic - when the temperatures rise, it feels great on the skin and is so comfortable to wear.
Helpful tips on sewing and caring for chiffon
Chiffon fabrics are very delicate, and must be handled with care.
It’s best to use a rotary cutter and self-healing mat when cutting out your pattern pieces. If you would like to cut chiffon fabric with your regular shears, use a non-slip surface underneath, such as a linen cloth.
You should also be careful when pinning, and use thin, sharp pins. Alternatively, you can attach pattern pieces to each other using thin strips of tape or special spray adhesive.
Be careful when pressing! Chiffon can curl when it comes into contact with water. You should only use your steam iron with a completely empty tank. As it’s so delicate, you should only ever iron chiffon at a low temperature. Even scratches on the bottom of your iron can damage the fabric. Place a layer of tissue paper between the fabric and your iron.
When sewing chiffon, make sure you use a fine needle (60 or 70) - and a fine thread.
Use a small stitch length (1.5mm to 2mm). When stitching, place tissue paper under the fabric to avoid thread getting caught in the feed dogs. As chiffon frays and snags easily, you must carefully finish your seams and edges. This is easiest with an overlocker. If you only have a standard household sewing machine, you could use a zigzag stitch around 5mm from the edge of your seam allowance, and then trim your seam allowance down to your stitches.
A French seam is a great way of finishing delicate seams.
You are better off dry cleaning pure silk chiffon, while synthetic chiffon can be washed at home - either by hand or on a delicates cycle using a laundry liquid suitable for delicates.
- Cutting out: Use a rotary cutter or non-slip surface
- Sewing: Use fine pins, tape or spray glue
- Ironing: No steam, low temperature, tissue paper as a protective layer
- Sewing: Size 60 or 70 needle, small stitch length, tissue paper as base layer, French seams
- Care: Dry clean silk chiffon, wash polyester chiffon by hand or on a delicates cycle
Creative sewing projects with chiffon fabrics
Our range of chiffon fabrics includes so many colours and patterns, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Chiffon fabrics are ideal for summer fashion. Chiffon can be used to make anything from lightweight blouses and tunics to loose, airy summer dresses.
A cocktail dress with a chiffon insert at the back or neckline makes a real statement with a hint of skin.
If you don’t want to go that sexy, chiffon sleeves are a great alternative. This looks smart and elegant.
Drapey chiffon scarves can also be worn as shawls.
Chiffon fabrics are also popular for bridal wear. Wedding dresses made from flowy fabrics with effortless drapes guarantee a breathtaking entrance to any wedding. High-quality silk chiffon is an excellent choice for a dreamy wedding dress. Greek-style cuts are especially well suited to chiffon fabrics.
Our tip: Recycling - use any left-over chiffon scraps to make table decorations. Drape them loosely over the table or in a decorative bowl as a great alternative to tulle. And the kicker: Your dress matches the decor.
To sum it up...
Chiffon is a versatile fabric with a special texture that lets your creativity run free. There are a few things to remember when buying chiffon. Here is an overview of the most important things to remember:
- You can use chiffon to make summer clothes, eveningwear or bridal wear
- Chiffon’s delicate structure means you need to use special methods, such as French seams
- Use tissue paper when pressing and sewing