How to sew chiffon (the theory)

Before I embark on my sheer chiffon blouse with cuffed, puffed sleeves, I have had a lot of very helpful advice from the amazing sewing community, I have consulted my own sewing library and I have made a few samples.  As with many vintage patterns the 1959 Vogue 9783 doesn’t give much help.

Vogue 9783
Vogue 9783 (1959)

The issues I needed to answer before I embark on this blouse are:

  • Pin tucks or gathers?
    • I agree with everyone who says pin tucks. I do want to practise my machine skills, but on this occasion I am going for gathers and don’t anticipate any issues there, although the gathering is joined to lace.
  • Interfacing
    • I will use black silk organza for the collar, cuffs and front band, as everyone suggested
  • Lining
    • This will be a sheer blouse that will need to be worn over a chemise. I did think about lining it, but on balance was swayed by Ruth F’s suggestion that different colours underneath would be fun
  • Lace
    • I decided to go with the brown, nylon lace that I already bought on eBay. You did provide some fantastic ideas and resources on this. In order to make the slightly reddish brown lace work I mounted it on black organza and joined two thickness.
  • Button holes on the cuffs and facings.
    • The pattern says do by hand. I don’t think so.
  • Buttons
    • I love the idea of dark pearl buttons. I will look around for some.

Now for the chiffon sewing advice from my selection of sewing manuals.


Use a number 9 needle. Keep the stitch short but not too tight.

Obviously the seams show so French seams are suggested, with tissue paper to stop the fabric slipping.

  • With wrong sides together stitch 3/8th” seams, trim to 1/8th. Press the right sides together and seam on the seam line which is now 1/4″ from the edge.

This works on straight seams. With an armhole seam a mock French seam can be used. This is sewn on the seamline with right sides together

  • The SA is trimmed to 1/4″ and pressed inwards and then sewn neatly together.

For the collar and cuff a hairline seam is proposed. This is when the seam is stitched with a narrow zig zag which could involve a filler cord to give more weight. I have decided just to do a straight seam as I don’t actually want any bulk at the edge of the collar.


A light touch, and not too  much steam


A rolled hem is suggested – either by hand or machine. Not sure about this. I shall try a simple turned up hem.

OK, ladies. Armed with your advice and desk top research I am going in there.

Cartoon picture
I am going in…

I will let you know how I get on.

4 Responses

  1. Jay

    yes, good luck Kate. I didn’t suggest the mock french seam for the armhole because I think the sleeve head is gathered and I thought this might prove awkward. An alternative might be to trim the sleeve head seam allowance back to scant 1/4 inch and wrap the seam allowance of the armhole around it, stitching it on the original stitching line with the raw edge turned in. Some swear by dipping chiffon in a gelatin solution to give it some body before cutting and working it. I haven’t done this, but it has fans. Sharp electric shears always seem easier than classic shears on fine fabrics – they lift the fabric less.

    • fabrickated

      Thank you very much for this Jay. I like the idea of electric shears and rotary cutters, but as long as I can get by I tend to avoid too much equipment. Something for the future. I did avoid the mock French seams, and gave real French seams (do the French call them French seams) a go. By making them tiny it worked just fine.

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