Many of you have requested advice on sewing chiffon since we released our new Zinnia pattern. To help you out, we made a little list of handy things to keep in mind when sewing with any kind of delicate fabric.
- Cutting: Treat your fabric with a spray fabric stabilizer. This makes your fabric stiff and much easier to both cut and sew. You can also layer muslin or tissue paper underneath your fabric to stop it from slipping out of your shears.
- Needles: Use a brand new, very fine sewing machine needle. For chiffon, a 65/9 or a 70/10 is a good needle size.
- Staystitching: Staystitch any curved or bias (diagonal) edges of each piece to prevent stretching and fraying. With Zinnia, be especially sure to stay stitch the side seams, since they’re cut on a diagonal. Also, be sure to trim your hem to even it out before you sew it. A light, loosely woven fabric has a tendency to stretch and distort.
- Pressing: Press seams and pleats with a low setting on your iron. If you’re using silk, be careful about using moisture, since you don’t want water spots.
- Hemming: For easy hem finishing, try using a narrow rolled hem foot. If you have a serger, you can also use that to do a rolled hem. Or use our technique for a turned hem.
And here is a bonus piece of advice for you, which we pulled out of the Snippets archive.
How To Prevent Your Machine From Eating Light Fabrics
Do you know that horrible grunting noise your sewing machine makes when it eats up your fabric as you being a seam? It makes my stomach turn just thinking about watching those lovely, light fabrics get sucked down into the machine!
Here is how you can avoid this devastation: Place the fabric beneath the presser foot. Take up the top and bobbin threads with your left hand, then pull them to the back of the machine. At this point you can either slowly press the sewing pedal, or rotate the hand wheel a couple of times to being the stitching process.
If your fabric is still being grabbed down in the plate, pull the threads back once more. Then, instead of holding onto the threads, gently pull the fabric and begin sewing. Don’t pull the fabric too taut as it will pucker once sewn.
A final note on lining Zinnia:
We’ve noticed a minor issue in some of the Zinnia instruction booklets, in that hemming the lining comes at the very end of the process. This isn’t ideal, due to the back seam, and requires unpicking a couple inches. Instead, it’s easier to hem the lining before installing the zipper. We’ve updated the instructions to reflect this, and will add a link to the errata on the Zinnia page. Apologies if you found this confusing.
Does anyone have any other tips to share for sewing chiffon and delicate fabrics?