Conquering Sheer Fabrics

Archive for the ‘Bias’ Category


My first sheers project, is a repeat from about 3 years ago.  At the time I purchased a silk chiffon remnant from Gorgeous Fabrics. I know I was thinking of some type sleeveless top. It arrived in fall – past the time of sleeveless –  and far to lovely to be tucked away into the stash.

My photography, while continuing to improve, does not show the full beauty of this fabric.

I did not give upon the sleeveless top option. No that fall, I trimmed the frayed ends and finished with a narrow zig zag stitch.  I reasoned that as a scarf, as I wear a scarf, the selvages and rough finish would not show.

Edges are invisible!

See? I have a specific purpose in wearing scarves.  I am not one to wind a scarf around my neck for the purpose of adding color.  Personally, I’ve seen too many inartistic uses of scarves in that manner.  A scarf for me is a utility garment.  I wear scarves, in cool weather, it over my shoulders  but under my coat or jacket.  My scarves thus fill any voids between coat and body. It’s rather like weather-stripping a door or window and keeping out cold breezes. Worn under the coat, as I do, the scarf is also a dirt barrier. The scarf will absorb my body oils, makeup and perfume rather than my coat.  A scarf, even 100% silk, can be easily laundered at home. A coat, requires a bit more effort and expense. By wearing a scarf my coats rarely need cleaning. — They do benefit from a bit of airing and at times spot cleaning. But a treacherous trip to the dry cleaners is unnecessary.

It was not this scarf that I first thought of when starting my pursuit of sheers. When I started this blog, I thought myself totally ignorant.  I sorted out information that I’ve been collected and read it. I also took a Craftsy Course and sorted through my own fabrics corralling and evaluating the sheers and semi-sheers which have managed to find a way into my stash. I realized with surprise, it was not that I didn’t like sheers; or didn’t have ideas of how to use sheers but my lack of construction expertise which halts my use of sheers. As I contemplated my fabrics, I was overwhelmed with ideas of what I’d like to do with each of the fabrics.  My problem was, where to start; what techniques to explore; what ideas to attempt. I became somewhat paralyzed unable to choose where to start. I finally decided to change the make-shift scarf into an item of real pride.

I learned from my work with crepes and other crawl-away fabrics, to tame them with starch. So I began my mixing a 50/50 water/starch solution and soaking my fabrics. Afterwards, I hung it on the rack to dry in the bathroom. I returned next day and found, as expected, the fabric had taken on a scary form of its own.

With a little bit of steam and patience, I persuaded the fabric to lie flat. I then trimmed the selvages and uneven edges.  I used the rotary cutter to square the ends, but the scarf is a rectangle. Without question, my corner serging is …. rough. definitely in need of improvement. But I didn’t want to spend time working on that particular skill. I choose to use a bowl to round the points.

Before trimming and squaring.


I cut large test swatches from the silk trimmings.  I pulled out the black Maxilock Stretch thread and the binder of serging samples I constructed over a year ago.

I love technology and love my machines. I’m also a firm believer in spending time with new technology and new machines for the purpose of learning what they will do as opposed to what I want them to do. When Sally (my HV S21) came home more than a year ago, I spent at least a week making samples; and remaking samples. Remaking until I was satisfied with the results. Then I record the final settings but with the understand these settings are the point at which to begin when I actually want to use a technique. My goals with this project were controlling the silk to produce a perfect, serger,  rolled hem.

I was pleasantly surprised that my initial settings were perfect! I also tested the silk by adding strips of self-adhesive, water- soluble stabilizer. I wish I’d had more of this or at least enough to for this project. Because on the actual project the straight sides rolled and serged beautifully, but the corners stretched . Resulting in a slightly wavy curve.

Biased corners

Once trimmed to a curve, the corners were bias. The stretch should have been anticipated. I probably should have delayed this project until I could obtain the needed stabilizer. As it is, I will take away the knowledge that starch alone is not enough to control bias.  If it is important, I must be prepared to take an extra step.

I find one other fault with this project. I joined the rolled hem as I was taught i.e. by taking 5-7 stitches overlapping the first 5-7 stitches. Most of the time, this is not even noticeable. But on this silk, rolled-hem, it forms a lump which is exacerbated by my running the ending threads through the stitching to finish the hem. I’m thinking, especially since I am always likely to run the ends through the stitches and then Frey Check the hem to finish, that ending the rolled hem stitching immediately before the first stitch would be a better choice.  Any advice to share?

At the arrow, thread ends are tucked into the stitching and then Frey Checked.

I promise these flaws are not visible during wear. In fact, a non-sewist would never know they even existed. But my purpose is mastering sheers. Taking these delicate, difficult fabrics and producing perfection.  I note the two flaws as things I need to work on the next time I use a rolled hem.

Worn with pride.




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