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Chiffon, from the French word for a cloth or rag, is a lightweight, balanced plain-woven sheer fabric woven of alternate S- and Z-twist crepe (high-twist) yarns. The twist in the crepe yarns puckers the fabric slightly in both directions after weaving, giving it some stretch and a slightly rough feel.
Chiffon is made from cotton, silk, or synthetic fibres. Under a magnifying glass it resembles a fine net or mesh which gives chiffon some see-through properties. Chiffon can be dyed to almost any shade, but chiffon made from polyester can be difficult to dye.
When sewing chiffon, many crafters layer tissue paper in between the two pieces being sewn together. The tissue paper helps keep the fabric together, with the rough surface of the tissue holding the chiffon in place while it is handled. After sewing, the tissue paper can be carefully ripped out. Chiffon is also pinnable, as it will spring back, concealing pin marks. As a general rule, sewers are advised to work slowly and steadily with this fabric, taking care not to run it through a sewing machine too quickly lest it bunch and gather.
Chiffon is most commonly used in evening wear, especially as an overlay, for giving an elegant and floating appearance to the gown. It is also a popular fabric used in blouses, ribbons, scarves and lingerie. Like other crêpe fabrics, chiffon can be difficult to work with because of its light and slippery texture. Due to this delicate nature, chiffon must be hand washed very gently.
Since chiffon is a light-weight fabric that frays very easily, bound or French seams must be used to stop the fabric from fraying. Chiffon is smoother and more lustrous than the similar fabric georgette.
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