Silk chiffon is a light, sheer fabric typically used for garments, such as prom dresses, evening gowns, bridal gowns, bridesmaids dresses, scarves and lingerie. Chiffon is the name of the fabric type, which is made into crepe-like material from twisting yarns during manufacturing. Silk is one of the materials used to make chiffon, but not all chiffon is made of silk.
While chiffon can be made from other materials, such as rayon or nylon, silk creates an elegant chiffon fabric that drapes well and is slightly stretchy. Silk chiffon is available in numerous colors, prints and sheen, and some silk chiffon is shiny, while others have a matte appearance. Silk chiffon garments allow people to keep cool in warm temperatures due to the absorbency of the material. While silk chiffon is durable for its weight, it may fray if not handled according to care.
The elegant appearance and luxurious texture of silk chiffon make it a staple in formal wear. Wedding dresses, wedding attendant attires and mother-of-the-bride dresses are all garments often constructed of silk chiffon. Formal dresses for black-tie events also make up silk chiffon garments. Some men’s items, such as boxer shorts or pajamas, use silk chiffon, along with women’s scarves and lingerie.
If you are planning on sewing silk chiffon fabric, there are several considerations to take into account. Sew silk chiffon with a new needle, and a Sharp HJ or HM needle in size 60/8 or 65/9 is best, according to "Threads" magazine. Thread the machine with lightweight cotton thread that matches the color of the silk chiffon, and cut through one layer of it at a time.
It is best to dry-clean or hand-wash silk chiffon to prevent it from damage. If you do wash silk chiffon in the machine, use a gentle cycle in cool, 40-degree Fahrenheit water. Press silk chiffon items with a cool iron, and do not use steam, which can damage the fabric.
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Jeris Swanhorst is a writer and English and literature instructor at the college level, and owner of SwanJay, a knitting and crochet business. She earned a master's degree in English from Minnesota State University in 2007.
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