Constructed of natural silk or synthetics, such as polyester or rayon, chiffon is a soft, flowing, reasonably priced fabric. Because chiffon drapes so well, it makes elegant and stylish scarves, blouses, dresses, evening wear and special occasion garments, including prom and wedding dresses. Although the fabric is lightweight and durable, it also presents several disadvantages. The fabric is slippery, stains easily, and requires special handling to maintain its silky, supple quality.
Although chiffon is lightweight, strong and durable, some sheer, open-weave chiffon fabrics are transparent. Without a lining or layering, it may be too revealing for dresses and blouses. In addition, chiffon attracts static electricity and may be overly clingy. Chiffon also has a slightly rough feel, and tighter weaves are sometimes stiff and uncomfortable. A highly flammable fabric that burns quickly, chiffon isn't a good choice for children's nightwear.
Requires Special Care
Chiffon garments benefit from professional dry cleaning, because the colors often bleed and the fabric tends to ravel and fray. Wash chiffon by hand if the care tag indicates that home laundering is safe, but use care to prevent stretching or distorting the chiffon. Agitate the fabric gently in warm water and gentle soap. Roll the garment in a white towel to absorb excess moisture, then lay the garment on a flat surface to finish drying. Although chiffon wrinkles, you can press the fabric on the wrong side using a warm iron, or use a press cloth and press the right side.
Take the garment to a professional dry cleaner as soon as possible if you notice perspiration stains, because perspiration fades the colors and weakens the fibers. Don't attempt to remove stains at home because spot cleaning often creates permanent stains. Always preheat the iron before pressing chiffon. If the iron spits and sputters while it is heating, it may create permanent water spots on the fabric.
Challenging to Sew
Slippery and challenging to cut and sew, chiffon fabric isn't a good choice for novice stitchers. To cut chiffon, sandwich the fabric between two pieces of tissue paper to avoid slipping and sliding, then use sharp fabric scissors or a rotary cutter. Stay-stitch curves to strengthen the seams and prevent fraying. Sew chiffon with a sharp needle and fine embroidery thread. Hold the end of the thread for a few stitches when starting each new seam. Otherwise, the fabric may be sucked into the bobbin.
- Sewing Smart with Fabric; Jeanne Stauffer
- New York Fashion Center: Silk Chiffon Fabric Information
- University of Kentucky Extension Service: Sheer Fabrics
- Reader's Digest: Storing Delicate Clothing
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