This week I've been working a lot with delicate, fray-prone fabrics including chiffon, These sort of fabrics require a lot more effort when it comes to sewing as sheer fabrics show every detail of your hems and seams, which is why I tend to use a technique called French Seaming when working with them. (It's also great on garment where the inside seams may show and there is no lining to hide them).
What is a French Seam you ask? Well is's basically where you enclose the seam in the fabric, but without using bias tape and taping the seams. It sounds complicated but it's really not, though it does take a little extra time, becuase you are in effect, sewing your seams twice.
How do I make on? One thing you need to remember before you start sewing it to allow a little extra seam allowance when cutting your fabric, if in doubt double what you would normally cut for seams.
1. With the wrong sides together pin you fabric and sew you seam as normal.
2. Using either small sharp scissors (my personal preference is to use my embroidery scissors as they have a small sharp neat point) or pinking sheers, cut the excess fabric away from the seam line, cutting a few mm from the stitch line.
3. Open the fabric and press the seam flat against one side. (I didn't take a picture as I don't tend to iron chiffon unless absolutely necessary)
4. Fold fabric so the right sides are together, and pin in place. You can see in the picture below I've pinned the original seam allowance to keep it in place
5. Now sew a second seam, slightly further out that the previous one, creating a pocket for the original seam to be enclosed in.
6. Press the seam flat again if you wish
7. Voila! One beautiful French seam! As you can see in my picture below you have a nice clean line in the chiffon, with no fraying and jagged edges on display. Isn't it a lovely sleeve!
There you go. Nice and simple once you know how! No go forth and french seam to your hearts content!
Oh and for hemming chiffon without an overlocker, you can use a similar technique, also remembering to add a little extra hem allowance.
1. Fold the hem over once and pin in place.
2. Run this through your sewing machine, keeping the stitch as close to the edge of the fold as you dare.
3. As in step 2 of French Seams above, trim the excess hem allowance. Be very careful to only cut the excess and not your garment.
4. Fold your tiny hem over, keeping it nice and small, pin in place
5. Run this through your machine for the final time. Keep close to the edge of the original fold, not the end of the garment, so from the right side you have a nice neat gap from the bottom edge.
I don't have pictures for this, but it really is very simple. By sewing the raw edge under first you remove the risk of your hem unfolding as you sew, allowing you to create tiny beautiful small hems on delicates like chiffon. If you don't believe me, give it a try!