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Ministry of Craft Blog

    Friday, October 13, 2017

    (1) comments




    What have I been sewing lately? Well, I have had a length of chiffon in my fabric stash for a while, so when Sew Magazine gave away this New Look pattern (K6471), I took on the slippery fabric challenge! Chiffon poses some sewing challenges so if you are new to sewing, I would recommend choosing a fine cotton lawn instead.

    Chiffon (from the French word for a cloth or rag) is a lightweight, balanced plain-woven sheer fabric woven of alternate S- and Z-twist crepe (high-twist) yarns. Early chiffon was made purely from silk, now polyester is popular due to its resilience and low cost. Under a magnifying glass chiffon resembles a fine net or mesh, which gives it some transparency.

    Chiffon can be difficult to work with because of its light and slippery texture. There are various options when it comes to stitching the fabric, but I chose to use a walking foot. A walking foot does just that, it moves along the fabric with a sort of walking action, lifting up and down off the fabric. This means that the two layers you are stitching together stay where you place them and do not slip away from each other. A walking foot is a good investment because it can be used when sewing any sort of slippery or stretch fabric or for sewing thick fabrics and for quilting. On our Develop your Sewing Skills one day workshop you learn how to attach one to your machine and how to use it on different fabrics.

    The first job was to gather the front and back neckline. I did this by increasing the stitch length to 7 and sewing 2 rows of parallel stitching. A fine needle (size 8) is recommended when sewing chiffon because it will slide through the fabric very easily.


    I moved onto sewing the front to the back at the side seams and the sleeves to the bodice. Since chiffon frays very easily, I opted for French seams; the inside is as neat as the outside because the raw edges are all encased within the seam. To sew a French seam first of all place WRONG sides together and stitch using an 8mm seam allowance. Trim the seam close to the stitching line and press open. Turn the seam right sides together and sew another seam, using an 8mm seam allowance. This seam will be on the inside and will encase the raw edges. Press carefully and there you have it.


    After I had attached the bow to the neckline, I finished off the sleeve and bottom hem. To finish hems in a sheer or lightweight fabric, it's best to make them as narrow as possible. Sew a line of stitches about 8mm from where you want your final hem to be. Then using that line of stitching to fold crisply, press the raw edge up. Next, sew a line of stitches about 3mm from the folded edge.

    Carefully use a pair of scissors to trim the raw edge away very close to your second line of stitching.

    Fold once again, enclosing the stitched-down raw edge, and press. Stitch very close to the inside fold as your final line of stitching and press once more.

    I was really pleased with the finished top but it took me much longer to make it in chiffon than it would have done in a straight forward medium weight cotton and lots of patience was a must!


    rae story commented on 21-Oct-2017 09:05 AM
    This is really beautiful, it hangs beautifully and I really love the transparency effect of the chiffon over the vest. Great to see how you approached it. I definitely need to get a walking foot for my sewing machine - after using the lovely machines on your course I realise the limitations of my one speed foot pedal action!! I shall look into this thanks. I have also been experimenting with french seams. They give such a beautiful finish to a garment, I always look at seams before I buy clothes, and if something has a french seam that will more or less win me over! The issue seems to be remembering that the first pass is done WRONG sides together - this seems hard for the brain to process! Looking at the chiffon it seems it might be hard to tell the right from the wrong side, but you have done it really beautifully.

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