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Sewing sheer fabrics

When you think of soft, pretty, feminine fashion for everyday as well as special occasions, sheer fabrics almost always come to mind. Sheer fabrics like chiffon, organza and voile have also become popular year-round choices for home decorating, from window valances and bed canopies to elegant table dressings and chair drapes. While sheers may require a bit more attention than most fabrics, you can successfully create the light, airy looks you love by following a few easy guidelines:


  • Use a single or double thickness layout with right sides together.
  • Use a “without nap” layout.
  • A cutting surface with a contrasting color will help you get the best view of your sheer.
  • Soft sheers will slip easily off grain, especially when cut on the bias. Use pushpins to anchor the fabric to a padded cutting surface. Insert pins along the selvage and across the cut edge of the crosswise grain.
  • Pin only within the seam allowances, especially on crisp sheers. Extra fine pins are suitable on crisp sheers, but may easily fall out of soft sheers. Insert pins at more frequent intervals than usual.


  • Use scissors with serrated blades or a rotary cutter to reduce fabric slippage as you cut.


  • Use a standard universal point needle in a light to medium weight size, such as size 70/10 H to 80/12 H (Schmetz) or size 10 to 12 (Singer).
  • Stitch with fine cotton-covered polyester thread, or try lingerie thread.
  • Set your machine for a slightly smaller stitch length than usual – about 10 to 15 stitches per inch.
  • Increasing the pressure on the presser foot may be helpful with some lightweight sheers.
  • Use a small, single-hole throat plate when sewing straight seams. This prevents toe fabric from being “swallowed” into the machine. A narrow straight stitch foot and / or flat-bottom presser foot may also be helpful.
  • If you do not have these machine attachments, consider moving the needle to the far left to provide support on three sides of the fabric.
  • Use soft and light interfacing so it doesn’t interfere with the fabulous drape of the fabric but still holds the shape you need. For a more translucent effect, substitute organza (for soft sheers) or organdy (for crisp sheers) in place of a commercial interfacing.
  • Seam options for sheers include a double-stitched seam and French seam.

Stretch on the bias

If you’re not familiar with the bias of fabric, this is the diagonal grain line, running at a 45 degree angle to the selvedges. The bias is stretchy on any fabric, but more so with lightweight fabrics which are already very fluid, so if you’re making a dress or skirt with a curved hem let the fabric drop overnight and trim the skirt back into shape before hemming.

Organza is a sheer, lightweight fabric that is often used for eveningwear, bridalwear, and other formal occasions. It is made from silk, nylon, or polyester, and has a crisp, stiff texture.

When sewing with organza, it’s important to use a sharp needle and a fine thread, such as silk or polyester, to avoid snagging or tearing the fabric. A universal or microtex needle in a size 60/8 or 70/10 will work well. It’s also a good idea to use a new needle for every project to ensure that the needle is sharp and won’t damage the fabric.

Before sewing, it’s important to press the fabric to remove any wrinkles or creases. Use a low heat setting and a pressing cloth to protect the fabric from scorching or melting. Organza is a very delicate fabric, so it’s best to use a low-heat iron, or even steam iron, to press the fabric.

When cutting organza, it’s important to use sharp scissors or a rotary cutter to prevent fraying. It’s also a good idea to use a cutting mat and ruler to ensure that the fabric is cut straight.

Organza can be sewn using a variety of techniques, depending on the project. For a basic seam, use a straight stitch on your sewing machine. For a more decorative look, you can use a zigzag or overlock stitch. When joining two pieces of organza together, it’s important to use a French seam to hide the raw edges of the fabric.

When hemming organza, it’s important to use a very narrow hem, as a wide hem can add bulk and take away from the delicate nature of the fabric. A bias binding or a sheer ribbon can also be used to create a subtle hem.

When attaching embellishments to organza, such as beads or sequins, use a small amount of fabric glue or a fabric-specific adhesive to avoid damaging the fabric.

In general, it’s important to handle organza with care to avoid snagging or tearing the fabric. It’s also a good idea to practice on a scrap piece of fabric before beginning your project to get a feel for working with the delicate fabric.

Organza is a beautiful, delicate fabric that requires a gentle touch and special care when sewing. With proper handling, the finished project will be a beautiful, elegant garment.

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