Conquering Sheer Fabrics

Archive for the ‘Fabric’ Category

LJDesigns Versa Jacket

This pattern is an instant classic, IMO. Lj Designs Versa Jacket

I constructed it using a sheer polyester but the pattern would be equally as lovely in a wool crepe, rayon challis or any fabric with drape. Lyla (owner of LJDesigns and the drafter of this pattern), develops the jacket shape through clever folding and minimal stitching. I do believe that minimal stitching forces the fabric to drape into the desired shape.  Look at these “cuffs”:

They are not separate pieces of fabric. They are not interfaced. What they are is carefully drafted. I needed to mark, fold and stitch precisely. Two stitches extra and it was too long. Two stitches short and the cuff doesn’t form. I added a silver conch closure and top stitched bias tubes onto the color for embellishment.

This garment travels well. The fabric can be folded, twisted or bunched into a small space. Pulled out and shaken off to wear. The wrinkles just disappear.  Strangely, it is also soil resistant. Unlike yesterdays fluff of pink, this garment has seldom been laundered. That and because my fabric is a neutral, dark denim makes this is one of my most worn summer garments.

But the reason it is here, is because the fabric is sheer.

I used a 4-thread serger seam for most of the stitching. There are critical areas (the cuff) which had to be stitched at the SM. This time the 4-thread seams work because there are no exposed seams. Lyla made sure this would be a garment you can wear with pride.  I rolled the hem but my serger balked and made lots of loopy edges. So I turned the serging up once and top stitched.  Gorgeous finish.


A Pink Wrap

I made this so long ago, I can’t remember the details and I can’t find my pattern. I think it is my oldest, sheer garment. I thought it was a Sewing Workshop pattern named Mimosa, but the Mimosa on that site is a neat looking blouse.  This is an asymetrical, bias cut wrap. Well almost wrap, as it does have inset sleeves and a shoulder seam.  As I remember, it was two pieces: a sleeve and a large weirdly shaped body. Sewing on the correct lines forms a shoulder, neckline  and suddenly armscyes are visible. The sleeve is inserted and all the edges are finished or not if you prefer. If could be a quickly sewn garment. I remember struggling with the polyester crepe fabric that want to crawl away at the cutting table and serger.

At the time, I chose to serge the shoulder, neckline, sleeves and armscyes with a 4 thread, flat serger stitch. They’ve lasted well (the serged seams) and are not terribly visible because  (1) most are inside (2) there aren’t many seams and (3) this sheer fabric has a busy print.  Nonetheless, should I make something similar, I think I choose the serger-rolled  or serger narrow seam.

I chose to finish the yards of outside edges with 1/2″ Seam-A-Steam applied and the edge turned twice. Although this garment has been laundered several times, all these edges are stiff. I like their appearance and maybe being a little stiff is a good thing. I mean this crepe polyester tends to drops straight down. Chiffon has a floating effect, this crepe has totally surrendered to gravity.  At the time I was concerned that my 3 yards of fabric would not be enough, yet seemed like a horribly large amount of fabric to use. In truth all that yardage is what keeps this from being curve hugging and is therefore more flattering to me.  I do prefer garments which suggest feminine curves without revealing all the adipose tissue required to form those curves.

I wear this garment frequently. It is light weight and packs away to nothing either within a suitcase or purse. When pulled from the depths of wherever, it shakes out the wrinkles and envelops my figure in a lovely fluff of pink.  It doesn’t get daily wear because a) it’s a summer garment with some spring and fall wearability but not good for cold (winter) 2) I’m really focused on the monochromatic dressing to create a columnar effect during wear.  I avoid color-blocking. I think color blocking tends to shorten the figure.  I’m short enough.

I would not make another garment exactly like this which is probably why I no longer have the pattern.  For one thing it’s very distinctive.  But the real turn-off for me is that the back collar comes together in a peak with a serged seam that folds over to the public side and shows.


I don’t use 4-thread serger seams as decorative elements. They are, for me, strictly utilitarian and should be hidden.  Although you get different views from side to side, it really has only one look. I have on occasion tied the front edges together:

but that was to keep them out of the way of something I was doing. It’s not really flattering.

It’s a good garment, excellent summer wrap  but more of an example of what-not-to-do with sheers.  I share it again now, (pretty sure this was on my blog long ago), more to document its errors; to have a place where I can review just what that type of hem and seam looks like.


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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