Conquering Sheer Fabrics

Archive for the ‘Silk Chiffon’ Category

Butterick 5355 Silk Chiffon

I first  shared this particular blouse in June 2010.

I’ve worn it 3 or 4 times during in it’s two year life span, but haven’t laundered since its construction. While 3 or 4 times may be a light amount of actual wear, the garment has sat on a hanger for a lot of that time AND the serger-rolled seams look like they were sewn yesterday.  That tells me  a tight, rolled seam is strong.  In fact it meets  all 3 criteria for the perfect sheer seam: narrow, unnoticeable and strong. (Although I personally would at times want the seam to be a visible embellishment.)

I completed all the serger-rolled hems before stitching the side seams.  I didn’t want that lump or uneven stitching which can occur when rolling crosses a seam. As far I as know, there isn’t a serger out there that can reliably handle these seams.

The scoop neckline was bound with narrow purchased bias tape and then turned to the inside before being top stitched.  Another strong seam (it hasn’t raveled or stretched at all during this time) and only slightly visible. I think it’s another good choice for finishing sheer edges.

This tie is made from two, narrow, long rectangles. I barely had enough fabric. I did something unusual and maybe not such a good idea. I serged the long sides, wrong sides together. The short ends were cut from the selvage and are unfinished. The serged seams are on the outside and they do show.  I think the seams are OK. It’s the selvage edge that is unattractive.

This blouse, like the scarf shared previously is 100% silk chiffon, also purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics. I started with a yard and half and barely had enough to finish the self fabric tie belt. Wearing it has a soft, romantic feel. Kind of easy, floating.

I wear this as an over-garment i.e. 3rd layer. There are times and places when I need protection from the sun or relief from cold (dr’s offices, grocery freezer sections) and so keep a 3rd layer with me when out and about. This blouse not only fulfills the need, but it packs down to nothing. Furthermore, I can wad it up into a ball; poke it into a bottom corner of my purse and let it sit there for hours/days; and when I pull it out it will unfold and be perfect. The wrinkles just shake out. The reason it doesn’t get worn more is that 1 piece front.  I don’t mind pulling something over my head in the morning, but I don’t want to be putting on and taking off a garment several times daily. It messes my hair and makeup. Oh and makeup soils. So now I need to launder this item which was worn less than an hour. (Why is it that spot cleaning does not remove mascara, but a fully wet laundry will?) I’m also at odds with the tie belt.  I did not add belt carriers at the seams because I wanted to option to remove or just not wear the belt. Personally, I don’t like seeing unfilled belt loops. It looks to me like you forgot to completely dress or are so untidy a portion of your garment couldn’t be located. (Both things that I do.) Because I like the blouse, I am contemplating an alteration, re-do, or up-cycle.   I’m thinking of dividing the blouse in front, rolling the edges, maybe reshaping the neckline and resulting lapel a little. I haven’t decided but the belt either goes away or gets carriers. IOW it’s time to make a commitment, does or does this not requiring a belt?  I’ll update this post when I decide; however, I’m in no hurry.




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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