Brighter days are (hopefully) on their way, and here at the Puff and Pencil office we are on the daily longing for sunnier weather, making it possible to wear lighter materials. Out of one of those (daily) talks one cold and gray Monday, we got to talking about just that. Lightweight fabrics. Something you really want to wear (soon), but at the same time can be a quite difficult material to work with, if you don’t know how to handle it.
So, if you have previously avoided sewing in fabric of chiffon, organza, or any other type of light fabrics, then this series of tips is for you.
The guide is divided into a Part 1 and Part 2. Part 1 is about tips prior to sewing, and is primarily about cutting the fabric. Part 2 handles a number of tips for the actual sewing part.
Tip 1: Pre wash and dry
Be sure to wash and dry your fabric before you start working on it. Maybe even twice, so you’re sure it won’t shrink any more.
Tip 2: Use sharp scissors!
… You definitely won’t make it easier for yourself if you skip this tip.
Tip 3: Cut on a solid surface that holds on to the fabric
…. Here you could use upholstery velvet underneath your light fabric, so it won’t slip away.
Tip 4: Cut your fabric on one layer
It can be difficult to cut in thin and delicate fabric. Cutting the fabric out on one layer, instead by folding, will make the process easier, and ensure that you cut along the grain line.
Tip 5: Cut the fabric between tracing paper
…. or with tracing paper under the fabric. In that case, remember to use paper scissors so you don’t ruin your scissors for fabric. When you make use of tracing paper, you ensure that the fabric is stabilized and makes the process easier for yourself.
Tip 1: Mark the wrong side
Often it can be difficult, with chiffon for example, to distinguish between the right and wrong side. Therefore, you can mark the wrong side with chalk. That way, you’re always sure what side is right and wrong, and won’t be confused.
Tip 2: Shorten your stitch length
A lightweight fabric needs a smaller seam to prevent the raw edges from being pulled out. So if you find that your fabric wrinkles when you sew, try using a smaller stitch length.
Tip 3: Do not push or pull the fabric
Lightweight and vibrant fabric is very delicate, so do not push or pull it while sewing. Instead, let the sewing machine do all the work. However, be sure to hold the ends of the upper and lower threads when starting off in order to prevent the sewing machine from “eating” them.
Tip 4: Use French seams
You can find that seams in e.g. chiffon, easily unravels. A solution to this might be to finish the edges using French seams. They do take a little longer, but are definitely worth it all, as they won’t be visible through the, typically, transparent fabric. A French seam is made by sewing together two pieces with the wrong sides together, then turning them around and sewing the right sides together afterwards. That way, all raw edges will be enclosed. Remember, you need to double the seam allowance if you choose to make French seams.
Tip 5: Use a brand new and very fine sewing machine needle
For chiffon, a 65/9 or 70/10 would be a good needle size. If you want to read more about sewing needles, we have a guide on that right here.
Tip 6: Press the seams
Press the seams with a low setting on your iron. However, be aware when using it on e.g. silk, as you do not want to end up with a lot of watermarks.
Tip 7: Use paper
If the fabric you are sewing in is extremely thin and your sewing machine almost ‘eats’ it, then you might want to sew it with a piece of regular printer paper underneath. When you are done with the seam, you can tear out the paper without ruining the stitches.
Now you should be perfectly ready to sew your next piece of clothing in a beautiful, thin and lightweight material. If you sew one of our patterns, we would love it if you tagged us on Instagram. We love to join our sewing community – both in process, inspiration and finished result.
Happy sewing (and dreaming of lighter days and materials ;)) <3