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Good substitute for Chiffon or Georgette

Beanhi | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

The fabric recommendation for a dress (Vogue V2880) that I would like to sew is chiffon and georgette.

After reading about the difficulties others have experienced with chiffon, I’m a bit scared.

Is there a good substitute that would have a similar drape and sheerness?


  1. woodruff | | #1

    Wowza, you certainly picked a challenging fabric and pattern. I have found that chiffon and georgette are perfectly tameable if you spray the fabric with spray starch and let it dry before cutting out. However, this does imply that the finished garment must be washable, to get rid of the starch, and this pattern doesn't look as though it produces a washable dress.

  2. mimi | | #2

    Beanhi:  I had heard the same thing about sewing chiffon and, in my case, silk charmeuse.  Since these were the fabrics my daughter and I had decided on for her wedding dress, I was very nervous.  A good friend, who had been sewing for over 50 years(!), made the following suggestions:

    • use pattern wieghts (you can buy them or use canned goods from the pantry.  Make sure the cans are clean.)
    • pin the chiffon to a larger piece of muslin and then pin the pattern onto that.  In fact, for such a splendid dress as yours, I would make the complete dress out of muslin first so that all changes can be made on the cheap stuff instead of the silk!  I made two muslins for my daughter before I set scissors to silk.
    • sometimes placing the silk on a towel will keep it from slipping.
    • Use silk pins; they are much finer/sharper than the old ones you have in your sewing kit.
    • When in doubt, or overwhelmed, take a break and have a drink!

    Good luck with your dress and don't forget to post pictures!  Don't hesitate to ask questions here, the members talked me through my project!


  3. FitnessNut | | #3

    Sorry, you simply aren't going to find a substitute fabric with similar sheerness and drape.....at least that I know of. But I do have a tip that has worked for me. Although tedious, cut the chiffon single layer, on a large table, and in an area with the least moving air....ie no fans or space heaters....the fabric will move around and you'll just be frustrated. Use weights to hold your pattern down and to secure your selvedge to the table. This will help to keep it straight. (I use stiff paper patterns and lots of weights, drawing the outline of the pattern with chalk or a pencil - this is how the pros do it and it is very easy to keep chiffon in place. Then cutting is a breeze once you lift off the pattern.) And please take the advice offered by someone else: make a muslin so you know exactly how the garment will fit. It is easy to make the adjustments first, before touching your more difficult fabric.

  4. sueb | | #4

    I read somewhere that when cutting out a slippery hard to manage fabric like chiffon to put a piece of tissue paper underneath it and cut the pattern piece out of both the chiffon and the tissue at the same time.  You might want to purchase a little extra of the fabric and try out some different cutting techniques to practice first.

  5. HeartFire | | #5

    Make your muslin dress, when you have that fitted correctly, cut it apart cutting OFF all seam allowances so you have each piece with no seam allowances, place these on your chiffon and mark either with chalk, or even better thread trace your sewing lines before ever cutting it out. then, when you cut it out you don't have to have exact 5/8 inch seam allowances - I might cut it with 1 inch seam allowances, they can be trimmed later, but now, when the chiffon trys to move and slip on you (and it will) you have the real sewing lines marked so it can move about all it wants,

    For hems, I was just shown a really neat new trick, instead of the baby hem (where you have to sew it 3 times) sew the hem from the RIGHT side with a double needle, this gives you a sort of pin tuck that folds the hem allowance up to the wrong side, then go back over the edge with your double needle again, right side up but only let the left hand needle penetrate the fabric, the right hand needle will 'sew on air' so to speak, then you just trim the hem allowance carefully from the worng side.

    Also (I just made a skirt of chiffon) I found that the 3 thread rolled hemon my serger gave me the nicest seam in the chiffon, I tried french seams and several different serger seams but the 3 thread rolled hem looked the nicest after it was pressed.

    1. Beanhi | | #6

      What are the pros & cons with a polyster chiffon or georgette? Besides that it's cheaper.

      1. Elisabeth | | #9

        In my opinion silk chiffon is much easier to sew than poly chiffon. Poly chiffon has a slipperyness to it that makes it sort of contrary. Silk chiffon moves with a mere puff of air but isn't that the beauty of it in the finished garment? Without the puff of air, though, the chiffon just lies pleasantly down. I put a layer of cotton batting on my cutting table (a thin blanket would work well too) and cover that with a sheet that I anchor at the corners. It takes a while to get the chiffon laid out single layer on grain enough to cut, but once you do the cotton sheet keeps it in place fairly well. Chiffon will snag quite easily so make sure your hands are perfectly smooth. Chiffon is not so difficult to sew once you get used to it's drapey personality.Poly georgette I find easy to sew but if you have a choice why wear plastic when you could wear silk! Poly georgette is ok to wear, the weave is not so tight that air won't go through at all, but it feels crunchy and tiresome against the skin after a while. Plus the poly's colors are downright fake looking if you put the poly next to silk. My vote goes for the silk georgette.

        1. FitnessNut | | #10

          I totally agree with Elisabeth about using the silk if possible. I feels so much nicer against the skin, IMO its easier to sew with, and it drapes much more fluidly (is that a word?). Just my 2 cents worth.....

        2. msm | | #11

          i agree with elizabeth too, about silk. and she is SOOOO right about the colors being better. something really dead about poly chiffon colors.
          poly chiffon fibers are too uniform. silk has more "tooth" which helps the color and the grab-ability while you sew.
          i started to suggest it earlier, but i wasn't sure if it was in your budget, or if you had a good local souce. i can't find it around here, but have had luck ordering white silk chiffon from Dharma and dying it.

          Edited 11/9/2005 1:07 pm ET by msm

          1. Elisabeth | | #12

            Thai Silks is a good source with reasonable prices. http://www.thaisilks.com Georgette in colors is $9.60/yd. (It's on the chiffon page.) Seems like polyester georgette can be $7-8/yd? That doesn't seem like too much more to pay for so much better fabric and color.

    2. Beanhi | | #13

      HeartFire,Thank you for the great tips. For the 3 thread rolled seam what kind of needle & thread did you use? And if you left a 1 inch seam did you need to trim it down?-Nhi

      1. HeartFire | | #14

        I did the 3 thread rolled hem on my serger - it cuts the seam allowance off, I used regular serger (cone) thread.
        I very carefully marked my sewing line on the chiffon before I cut it out, then I cut the pieces, not paying a lot of attention to how big my seam allowances are - I'm sloppy here because they will all be cut off anyway. Pin very carefully and frequently, and of course make sure I don't hit the pins with the serger.Now, if you are talking about the baby hem that you sew 3 times,
        first), you sew with a fine needle and a short stitch about 1/2 inch below where you want the hem to be, (leave at least a one inch hem allowance at this point.)
        second), you fold up (to the wrong side) the hem allowance on the stitched line and press.
        Third), you sew the hem again very very close to the folded edge - use your edge stitching foot and just barely catch the fold,
        forth), carefully trim the hem allowance close to the stitching
        fifth), fold up again to the wrong side (often you can avoid the pressing part this time - it should fold along the sewn edge nicely)and agin, stitch very close to the edge.This should give you a hem that is about 1/8 inch deep - very nice clean finish and its a toss up as to which I like better, this or the double needle hem.
        Judy - I hope this answered your question, if not e-mail me.

  6. lovemycottons | | #7

    Believe me, the fabric is slippery. I have used it a couple of times, cursing it and worrying if all will be fine when the garment was completed. Was I surprised that it all worked out well. Three out of four were keepers.  (The one I tossed was underlined, and that was another story)

    Before I made my bias skirt with the slippery and expensive stuff, I did a test run with a similar fabric but less expensive on a lingerie item. I made a nightgown, so if I screwed up, no one would see it. I am glad that I did, because I learned a lot on how to handle the fabric.

    I would highly recommended everyone's suggestions given above and doing the test piece.

  7. msm | | #8

    a lightweight jersey has good drape, but you'd lose the sheerness. it may also tend to sag a little, if not cut properly, but it might be made to work on this pattern with a little experimenting.
    personally, i think the best idea for chiffon is the starching. after completion, a gentle handwash and drip dry to almost dry, then fluff in low dryer

  8. User avater
    artfulenterprises | | #15

    The most successful method I found for cutting chiffon and georgette involves a bit of cutting room preparation. I don't know if you sew a great deal, which would make this well worth the effort, or if this is just a one time project sewing extravaganza. But, here goes....
    Professional patternmakers and cutting rooms cover their work surface with a product called "white faced building board". It can be purchased in 4' x 8' sheets at lumber yards for about $10. It's rather like bulletin board material and the lumber yard will cut it to whatever size works for you (I use mine uncut...my cutting table is the same size). This I cover with white paper (available from art stores in wide widths usually on a roll) because the white faced building board is hard on your hands...tends to dry out your skin. This surface is absolutely essential when making patterns and makes a great surface for laying out fabric. With chiffons, etc., lay down a layer of tissue paper, then the fabric; align the selvage edges with the edge of the board. Use push pins or T-pins to anchor the selvages being careful to establish the crossgrain so that the fabric is perfectly "squared" (place pins opposite one another on each selvage) and you can lay out your patterns knowing the vertical grainlines are where they belong. Place weights on the patterns and/ or place silk pins carefully into seam allowances to hold the pattern in place (careful not to distort the fabric underneath.) Cut the fabric and tissue paper together and mark with thread tacks before removing from the table. While this may seem like a lot of work, once this surface is a part of your sewing room, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it.

  9. Kathelaine | | #16

    I usually just lurk, but since I'm in the middle of cutting out a silk charmeuse skirt and have silk on my mind, I thought I'd respond.   First of all, if you are going to invest the time to make the pattern above, you have to use silk.  It's much more manageable for sewing that polyester and will drape more beautifully.  Polyester is more apt to pucker at the seams.   Before I started this project, I went back and read articles in my old Threads magazine:

    Charmeuse - silk 95 71
    Chiffon 71 64
    Chiffon hem options 77 85
    Chiffon - seams for 87 30
    Silk sewing 74 61

    I put tissue paper under the fabric, cut a single layer, made a paper pattern for each pattern piece, used silk pins  and sharp scissors.  One of the articles recommended using a rotary cutter, but I would want to practice first before I used it.

    Silk is such luxurious material that it's worth the effort and is actually easier to sew than polyester.

    1. Beanhi | | #17

      I have decided to go with silk. I already purchased the chiffon and china silk from Denver fabric. I'm in the process of making the dress in muslim. The pattern is pretty simple so I've re-drafted the pieces from my sloper. I'm going transfer the pattern by thread tracing as someone on the board suggested. That way I don't have to worry too much about cutting accurately.

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