Chiffon is a lightweight, sheer, plain woven fabric that can be made from cotton, silk or synthetic fibers. It is defined by the type of weave, twist and weight of the yarns used. Chiffon fabric is usually used for evening wear, blouses, ribbons, scarves, and lingerie.
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Chiffon fabric is constructed with a balanced plain weave. This means that the warp and weft threads on the loom are the same weight and are woven in a basic over, under crisscross pattern, giving the woven fabric a checkerboard appearance.
The yarns used to weave chiffon fabric are alternately S-twist and Z-twist crepe yarns. Crepe yarns are spun with a high number of twists per inch. S-twist yarns are spun by twisting in one direction, while Z-twist yarns are spun in the opposite direction. The alternate use of S-twist and Z-twist threads means the fabric crumples slightly in different directions.
Chiffon fabric has a fine mesh-like weave which gives it a transparent appearance. The transparency means special techniques must be used when sewing chiffon fabric as stitches will show on the right side of a garment. Stitching must be very neat and narrow and seams and darts kept to a minimum to improve the finished appearance.
Chiffon fabric frays easily, so French seams are usually sewn to prevent fraying on a finished garment. To prevent excess fraying when pre-washing chiffon fabric, a line of stitches can be sewn along any raw edges.
Cutting and Sewing
Chiffon fabric is difficult to cut and sew because it is lightweight and slippery. When cutting patterns chiffon fabric should be placed on a non-slip surface, and can be sandwiched between layers of tissue paper when being cut to prevent it slipping around.