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silk chiffon seams

tottieirene | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I am planning to make a silk chiffon blouse, sleeveless, and with a draped,cowl neckline. I will make it with double layers. When I cut it out, I understand that is best to cut each layer separately so that each layer will be on grain. When I join the shoulder seams, I will sew the two layers as one and finish it with a French seam. But what about the neckline and armhole seams? Should I sew each of them right sides together? And then, how should I finish these seams? Thanks for suggestions.


  1. lifelongsewer | | #1

    Dear TOT,

    You might want to try laying down a layer of tissue paper on your cutting table, place the silk chiffon on that in a single layer, then place paper pattern pieces on top and pin thru all three layers and then cut.  Yes that means cutting sleeves and other pieces twice, but you will get almost no shifting of the layers.  

    Make sure you find the cross-grain thread, and lay on cutting table at a perfect right angle to the lengthwise grain.  If you see bubbles on the fabric, you can literally blow them out flat.  (Even though chiffon is very soft and drapey, if it is cut off-grain, you can end up with sag lines and uneven hems.)

    When you get ready to sew seams that are on bias, such as shoulder seams, leave the first layer of tissue paper pinned to the fabric -  the paper helps to 'stay' the fabric.  You canremove the paper after sewing the seams. 

    A strip 1/4" wide (and equal to the length of the shoulder seam on the pattern piece) cut from the selvege of the chiffon can also be sewn onto the shoulder seam, to prevent stretch during wearing. 

    Also very important to "Sew Directionally" (high-to-low or wide-to-narrow) on all seams to avoid seam stretch.  Decrease your stitch length (at least 2.0), and use a thread finer than the standard 50/3, and a microtex #70 machine needle.   And don't forget to make a stitch-an-press-sample, and have fun!

    Kay in LA

    1. User avater
      tottieirene | | #4

      Thnak you for the good advice. I'm going to line the blouse with another layer of the chiffon. How do you think I should finish the seams at the armholes and the neckline (draped cowl)? (My first step will be to join both layers at the shoulders and finish with a French seam.)

  2. SewNancy | | #2

    I you can find it, cotton 2 ply thread is 60/2 is perfect for chiffon,  finer seams.


    1. User avater
      tottieirene | | #3

      Thank you. I'm going to line the blouse with another layer of the same chiffon. Do you have a suggestion about how to finish the seams at the armholes and the neck?

      1. FitnessNut | | #8

        Can you sew the neckline and armhole seams right sides together, trim and turn, then sew the French seams at the shoulders? That would finish those edges nicely. You could tack the French seams down at the edges if necessary with a few hand stitches to keep them laying flat. Hope this helps.

        1. User avater
          tottieirene | | #9

          I think you confirmed what I have to do. I'm going to try it on a muslin first. The chiffon was so expensive, I don't want to make a mistake. It'll help me to check the fit too. I understand from Sandra Betzina's book that it's best to make a chiffon blouse up to 1/3 larger than the bust measurement so it won't look skimpy. Thanks for your help.

          1. FitnessNut | | #10

            You're welcome.....let us know how it turns out.Follow your bliss ~~ Joseph Campbell

            Edited 10/22/2004 12:23 am ET by Sandy

          2. User avater
            tottieirene | | #13

            OK. I hope I can get to it soon--I have so many interruptions in my life that I don't have control over!. But sewing is good therapy for me.

          3. mem1 | | #14

            Hello tot,

            I would sew the outer layer and inner layer shoulders together sepately leaving a turning gap in the lining layer then sew right sides together at the neck and arm holes . i would then turn it right side out through the shoulder seams and the slip stitch the shoulder seam together by hand . This way the only place the two layers are joined are at the nek and arm hole not at the shoulder seams.This way you wont get any seam visible at the shoulder as you would if you use a french seam after sewing neck fronts and backs separately . Like lineing a vest without the front opening.

          4. Elisabeth | | #11

            Sandy outlined the method I was thinking of with the shoulder seams sewn after arm and neck. I made a georgette two layer bias top recently that I finished the arm and neck by sewing right sides together. It worked very well and the edges look great, much nicer than any kind of hemming or top stitching in this case. I did not plan the assembly as I was changing my mind as I went along and ended up doing some fabric gymnastics to get all the seams sewn right sides together. Shoulder seams last would have made it easier.

          5. User avater
            tottieirene | | #12

            Dear ElisabethI think your description is what I'm looking for--a way to engineer the construction. And, I think I can finish the seams after I sew right sides together. I'll try it on my muslin first. Thank you.

  3. kjp | | #5

    I have finished edges with a contrasting bias strip for great results.  There are directions in Fabric Savvy.  You could also use a baby hem (but practice first!).  There are good directions in an old Threads mag.  I can't find it right now, but I originally located it using the online index. 

    The tissue paper is a good idea.  You also might want to get a straight stitch plate for your machine to prevent the chiffon from being pulled into it.  Definitely find the crossgrain & cut each piece separately - it's time consuming but well worth the trouble.  Trust me...I found out the hard way! :)


    1. kjp | | #6

      The article I found useful was Threads #58, pg. 48 - Sewing with sheer silk fabric. Karin

    2. User avater
      tottieirene | | #7

      Thanks, kjp and all. I have FABRIC SAVVY and will refer to it. And I have past copies of THREADS too. I'll do the research. I'm planning on doing a muslin first; maybe my imagination is projecting an "engineering" problem that really doesn't exist!

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