This is the hand out that I used for the program:
I use liquid starch ratio of 3 parts water to one part of the bottled liquid starch. Saturate the charmeuse in the mixture, squeeze gently to remove the excess liquid and roll gently in a towel to absorb enough so it does not drip. Hang to dry. Press the fabric prior to cutting.
For the Charmeuse this usually provides enough body so that it can be cut and sewn without squirming all over. Be sure to use really sharp shears or a new rotary cutter blade. When the garment is completed wash it in silk wash or nutregena shampoo, rinse thoroughly, gently squeeze out the excess water and gently roll in a towel. Hang to dry and press when nearly dry.
The chiffon needs more help for cutting. I used the Niagra liquid starch undiluted. I use tissue paper, regular tissue paper from the wrapping paper section under the fabric and on top. I pin the tissue paper to the fabric in seam allowance areas and pin the pattern on top of the top tissue paper, pinning in the seam allowances. The starch gives it enough body to make the sewing much easier.
Test the starch procedure on a small sample to test the dye. If the dye runs then you will need to launder the piece and use white vinegar in the wash to set the dye.
If you have a heavily embroidered piece with intense colors you can rub a white 100% cotton or linen cloth on the back of the fabric to see if the dye will run. Generally the embroidered pieces have sufficient body however you may need to use the tissue paper under and on top of the fabric to cut.
Use a new size 60 or 65 sharp needle and silk thread if you can find it. Use a straight stitch needle plate or place a piece of tape or paper over the needle hole and let the needle make a hole in it. This is to prevent the fabric stuffing down the needle hole. You can try to move the needle to the farthest left position to see if this works.
I recommend a french seam for both fabrics. Sew a 1/4” seam allowance with the wrong sides together, with a 2.0 or 2.5 length stitch. Press the seam flat from both sides. Trim the seam right next to the stitching, press to one side, turn the piece so right sides are together and push the inside seam to the edge with your fingers, press firmly with small amounts of steam. Stitch right sides together with 1/4” seam allowance.
Silk charmeuse is somewhat fragile so you may want to add a small amount of additional ease to keep from stressing the fabric at the armscye and under arm seams.
Polyester behaves differently so you will have to test the fabric to see if you need to use these procedures on poly charmeuse and poly chiffon.
The other sheer that we see often in ready to wear is stretch tulle. Some of it has little stretch and is used to line the sheer jersey burnouts. It does not ravel, is nearly always shown unhemed with the edges raw. It is used as trim on t-shirts and knit skirts.
Cotton voile may also benefit from some starch. I wash and iron my fabric before I start to sew. If you need to starch soak it in a dilution of liquid starch. Spray starch will be applied unevenly and you may end up with an unstarched area just where you want to cut accurately.
Bias strips of all of these can be used for interesting trims around necklines, yokes or sleeves or up and down the front of a blouse or skirt. Bias strips can be ruffled and they make interesting trim as well. A 5 or 6 inch strip of bias or straight of grain can be doubled and ruffled to have a finished ruffle to add to sleeves or hems on pants or skirts.
Ready to wear has lots of chiffon flowers that are cut on the bias and edges left raw. Look at the trims and embellishments on line or in the stores to get ideas of where to use these as trim. Silk chiffon or charmeuse makes great scarves for yourself or for gifts.
Silk organza is fairly stable. I recommend to either pin a lot when laying out the pattern or use lots of weights when cutting. If you find that it is shifting it can also benefit from some starch. Because there is such a variance in quality of silks work with yours to see if it needs to be more stable.
I have used strips of tissue paper to sew chiffon and find that pulling the paper away disrupts the stitching. My opinion is that starch is a better option.
I use sharp needles sizes 60/7, or 65/7 for chiffon and 70/10 or 75/11 for charmeuse. Use new needles and if you hear a noise when the needle goes into the fabric replace it. A needle with a burr or damaged can cause a run in silk. Because silk is graded by weight it has a high amount of tin. This is really hard on needles so be prepared with a supply of needles in the correct sizes as they get damaged pretty soon.
Happy sewing and do not be afraid of the sheers.
Prepared by Deanne Smith 6/13/2011