A creative blog featuring sewing tutorials, free patterns, and other helpful resources.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Fabric Fun Facts: Which Type of Sheer is It?
"What's the difference between nylon chiffon and poly chiffon?" "Can I use tulle instead of chiffon?" "Do I have to serge the edges of sheer fabrics?"
We hear questions like these regularly, and they are excellent ones of course, so for our fun facts today I am going to explain some of the differences between these sheer fabrics and how we can make the perfect choice when buying them.
Let's start with tulle. Tulle is a fine netting that can be made of various fibers like nylon, rayon, and silk. The fabric that most people refer to as "tulle" is actually "bobbinet", which is made by wrapping threads in such a way that they create a hexagonal design. The design creates a tension that keeps it from twisting or falling out of shape. This is why tulle is a surprisingly strong and durable fabric for being so lightweight. It comes in any color and is inexpensive and easy to find.
Tulle is commonly used for veils, gowns, and tutus. It adds body to skirts as an under-layer. Because of it's coarse texture we generally want to put a layer of fabric between the tulle and our skin if there is an over-layer pressing down on it.
We have a free tutorial on the blog that uses tulle here, as well as several of our patterns such as Paris's Party Dress that benefit from the use of tulle:
Organza is an open-weave fabric that has a sheer appearance to it. The weave is fairly loose but the yarns themselves are tightly twisted, making it extremely crisp. Organza has a shine to it that the other sheers don't have, and we can often find designs or sparkles woven into it.
Organza is often used as an overlay on skirts and dresses, adding depth and shine. Like other wovens, it will unravel, so the edges always need to be finished. Organza is fairly delicate (although stiff) and snags easily. As you can see below, organza makes a beautiful overlay on the bodice of Cheyenne's Perfect Party Dress.
Poly chiffon is a woven fabric made with polyester threads that are tightly twisted, giving it a dull, slightly rough texture. Poly chiffon is soft and limp, allowing it to drape beautifully. Because it is woven, poly chiffon will fray and must be finished on the edges.
Poly chiffon is often used for formal gowns and scarves. It tends to hang down with flow, unless it is gathered tightly to create body. Our gorgeous new pattern Bethany's Fancy Party Dress has the option of using poly chiffon. I think you'll agree that it creates the perfect effect:
Nylon chiffon is very similar in use and appearance to the the poly chiffon we just described. But the big difference between the two is that nylon chiffon is actually a knit fabric!
Because nylon chiffon is constructed as a knit, it can also be handled as a knit. The edges do not unravel and it has a stretch to it. (Note: Some stores and websites list nylon chiffon as "15D Nylon Tricot" instead since it is actually a sheer tricot.) Nylon chiffon is soft and perfect for use in pettiskirts and layered gowns. My favorite use of nylon chiffon has been in Coco's Fabric Pettiskirt:
And there we have it! These are the most commonly asked-about sheers that we use in our patterns. They can often be interchanged as long as we know how to adapt based on the information above. For example, we can use poly chiffon in place of nylon chiffon sometimes, but we will need to finish the edges first and make sure our particular pattern does not require stretch, because poly chiffon will not stretch like nylon chiffon does. I personally like to make substitutions to make a unique outfit but I always do my research first. If you're not into that, your best best is to pin this post and refer back to it when you need it!
Before I forget, let's keep it honest. Here are the sources I used to compile this info: Source. Source. Source. And Source. I used the Create Kids Couture website too, of course.
So we're all set! Let's go buy those gorgeous fabrics and whip up something amazing.