ALL YOU WISHED TO KNOW ABOUT CHIFFON FABRIC

In this section of fabric directory, you will find all the information needed to design and produce garments made of chiffon fabric.

Description

Chiffon is a light, plain-woven fabric usually made of silk or nylon. Silk chiffon is a smooth textile with a stretch, soft drape, and shimmering look. Its name is derived from the French word for a “cloth” or “rag”.

 

Composition

Chiffon can be produced from a wide range of fibers or their blends  such as :

  • Natural fibers: cotton and silk
  • Semi-synthetic fibers: rayon
  • Synthetic fibers: nylon and polyester

Silk and polyester are often blended together to strengthen the fabric.

 

Production

Why is chiffon sheer? It has a transparent appearance because of its net-like weave. Chiffon is a plain-woven fabric. Its yarns are spaced apart from each other and its structure resembles a mesh. Since we can see objects on the other side of a mesh, we can see through the chiffon as well.

Plain Weave Image

Plain Weave

The S- or Z-twist of the yarns is what gives the chiffon its “stretch” quality.  Tightly twisted yarns give the fabric a slightly rougher texture compared to those made of yarns with a loose twist.

 

Draping

Chiffon drapes well across the body, even though it keeps its own structure to some degree. Silk chiffon drapes better than polyester or cotton chiffon. It falls into soft folds, which makes it flattering on most body types.

 

 

History of Chiffon

The history of silk originates in 3,000 to 4,000 B.C. in China.

Chiffon was a popular fabric choice in the 19th century so that the development of excessively ornate lingerie during the Edwardian time was called “the cult of chiffon”. At that time people produced chiffon from silk only. So it was expensive and served to symbolize high status and great wealth.

After the invention of nylon, people started producing cheap chiffon in big quantities. The advent of polyester in 1958 made chiffon a popular fabric choice due to its cost and durability.

One of the true masters of chiffon was James Galanos. His dresses, in particular, made his reputation in the early 1950s, with their yards of meticulously hand-rolled edges. Many designers worked with chiffon, but Galanos was a true master of the genre. Hubert de Givenchy, the admired French couturier, ones looked at an inside of a James Galanos garment and exclaimed “… we don’t make them this well in Paris!”

James Galanos Chiffon Fashion, Hollywood, California, 1961. Photo by Gordon Parks

 

Characteristics

  • Chiffon fabric is lightweight and a bit rough to touch.
  • It is a sheer fabric. So it is often used on top of another solid fabric.
  • Chiffon tends to fray.
  • The fabric sags with age, weight and wear.
  • Chiffon can be easily damaged by hot iron and steam.
  • The fabric prints beautifully right thru both sides, which makes it a great fabric for scarves.
  • Silk and cotton chiffon is easy to dye.
  • Cotton chiffon is more matte and less floaty in nature.

Polyester

Pros

  • Much cheaper than silk chiffon
  • More versatile
  • Has resistance toward stains
  • Available in different weights
  • Available in different patterns
  • Stores well
  • Sturdier than silk

Cons

  • Can be hard to dye
  • Can tear more easily
  • Not as breathable

Silk

Pros

  • Luxury feel
  • Richer in shimmer and slicker in texture
  • Comfortable on the skin
  • Soft drape
  • Easy to dye
  • Some stretch
  • Natural fabric

Cons

  • Not as versatile
  • Expensive
  • Can be hard to manage

 

Application

Chiffon is a popular choice for evening gowns, blouses, wedding dresses, lingerie, and so on.  Due to its transparency, it is often used as an overlay. Chiffon often serves as a base fabric for embroideries, beads, and hand-sewn crystals. It is an excellent choice for making full circle skirts, floaty veils and dance costumes.

Atelier Versace, Haute Couture FW 2015/2016

 

Types of chiffon

  • Crinkle chiffon – chiffon with a crinkle finish for the textural purpose.

 

Maintenance

Silk chiffon should be dry-cleaned.

• Polyester chiffon should be hand washed and air-dried flat.

• For synthetic chiffon use the gentlest cycle when using a washing machine. Put the fabric in a mesh laundry bag.

• Use mild detergent. Soak the garment in cool soapy water for up to 30 minutes. Fabric starts losing color if kept in water for longer time.

Do not wring. Instead, press the water out of the item.

• Lay the clothing flat on a drying rack.

• Avoid direct sunlight.

• Dry low-hit ironing. Place the item on ironing board and smooth it out with your hands.

• Be mindful of clips when hanging because they can leave marks on the material.

• Store chiffon items in breathable cotton bags to protect from bugs.

• Chiffon made from natural fibers is delicate and should be maintained carefully.

 

Cost

The wholesale price of polyester chiffon varies from $70 to as cheap as $2 per yard at discount online stores. High-end, hand-printed or embellished silk chiffon costs $400 per yard and more. Blends are cheaper than silk chiffon, but they keep some of the smoothness and texture.

 

Sewing Tips

  • Don’t stretch the fabric while sewing.
  • Use a padded cutting board or line the cutting board with tissue paper.
  • When cutting patterns layout should be one single layer.
  • Put a layer of thin paper (e.g. tissues) between the two pieces being sewn together. It helps the fabric to be intact. Then remove the paper layer after sewing.
  • Sewing machine needles sizes: 60/8,   70/10 or 65/9 or universal.
  • Sewing machine settings recommended: 1.25-2.0 mm.
  • Threads used should be cotton, poly-cotton blend. A pure polyester thread is not recommended.
  • Use only silk or superfine pins.
  • Interfacing recommended: self-fabric, e.i. interfacing chiffon with chiffon. The heat needed to apply fusible interfacing can damage the fabric.
  • To prevent the edges from fraying use rolled hemming.
  • Machine buttonholes with fine embroidery thread.
  • When using a zipper seam allowances should be interfaced with organza.
  • Press very carefully without steaming to avoid stretching.

What is the difference between chiffon, organza, and georgette?

Organza is stiffer and matte in appearance.  It tends to wrinkle and creates more volume in a dress. Meanwhile, chiffon has flowing nature and shimmery texture. Georgette is thicker than chiffon and less transparent.

 

Inspection for vintage-collectors

When receiving chiffon items, examine them thoroughly. Uneven hemlines and seams puckering usually state stretching, shrinking or distortion. Bias cut garments are often distorted to some degree. Note the distortion on the sales slip. Check the entire garment for pulls and snags. Beading or trimming applied to chiffon can damage the yarns. Examine carefully seams, arms, seat, and collar. When checking seams, look for fabric unraveling due to stress. Look for rings and swales that might have been resulted from perspiration or liquid spillage. Chiffon garments are best examined while hanging on a hanger.

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