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Silk Chiffon Fabric Draping

Silk Chiffon is a lightweight, transparent, soft, plain weave fabric. Common uses for silk chiffon include blouses, skirts, robes, lingerie, eveningwear gowns, cocktail dresses, and resort collections. Chiffon is a choice fabric for bridal gowns worn at a beach setting. Chiffon garments tend not to be structured, as chiffon is very soft and not easily tailored. Because of its soft nature, chiffon has a habit of moving around when being cut. For this reason, the chiffon fabric should be layered between two sheets of paper when cutting out pattern pieces. This will give you an accurate cut and avoid uneven or jagged edges. 

The following quick-drapes show the body, drape, and softness of silk chiffon. It cascades beautifully, and requires multiple layers to create fullness and volume. Typically, 3 layers will give you an opaque look, while 2 layers will remain semi-transparent. Silk chiffon is a great fabric to experiment with for fabric manipulation. Explore new ways to create flowers, ruffles, and other shapes by twisting, tacking, and gathering the fabric. 
When sewing silk chiffon, tissue paper is commonly used as a backing to achieve straight lines, and then removed after the seam is secure. Without this backing, the chiffon has a tendency to slide around and seams will often stretch and become uneven. Seams should be sewn on even grain lines to avoid wavy seams when a garment hangs. Chiffon easily frays at the edges, but with its sheer nature, a merrow or overlock finish can look heavy and bulky. Commonly, a French is used to clean finish a chiffon garment. 

Chiffon is naturally beautiful and used by many designers because of its soft drape, flow, and grace. Chiffon is most often layered over a lining or slip for modesty. The transparent characteristics of chiffon make it perfect for gathering, pleats, and smocking. These techniques add fullness, while adding depth to a garment through levels of transparency. 

Chiffon is a natural choice for lingerie and robes. It is soft to the touch, lightly covering the body with a thin layer of material, yet still revealing one's undergarments. It is often ornamented with a lightweight, Chantilly lace that enhances the airy effect created by the chiffon. Lace is most commonly appliquéd with a one-step zigzag stitch, while again using tissue paper as a backing to prevent the sewing machine from “eating” the fabric. 

Silk Chiffon was a staple fabrication in the Fall 2012 Ready-to-wear collections of Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci. They used the fabric for blouses, bodysuits, skirts, and gowns. They often layered it over or under other pieces to create more dimensional looks. No doubt this fabric will continue to be a hit on the runway, especially as we continue to see a blend of lingerie influences into women's sportswear looks. 


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