Silk Sheers
by Shannon Gifford
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  • Silk Sheers

    Silk sheers are among the most elegant of fabrics. No other fabric conjures up images of luxury as readily as silk! A garment made of sheer silk is cool to wear in hot weather. It can layer with other garments for a soft addition to your winter wear. Sheer silk, once used primarily for formal garments, is now a staple fabric for a modern wardrobe!


    Because of the delicate nature of this fabric, hand-washing in cool water is recommended. Use a drop of baby shampoo as the cleaning agent, and rinse the fabric several times to remove all traces of shampoo. Lay the finished garment flat to dry.

    Needles and Thread:

    A universal needle, size 70/10 is a good needle for sheer silks. You might also consider a 60/8, which is a very small needle, if your thread will fit through the eye. Silk thread is beautiful with sheer silks; it can be difficult to locate. If you cannot find silk thread, use a all-cotton thread marked as "embroidery cotton". It is a thin thread, suitable for a fine fabric.

    Seams, Seam Finishes, and Hems:

    Think small: small stitches, small seams, small hems. Use a 1.5 or 2.0 length on your standard straight seams. Try a tiny French seam for your seam finish; stitch the seam wrong sides together, using a 3/8" seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance to 1/8" and press to one side. Fold the fabric right sides together and stitch your final seam at ¼" to encase the raw edges. If you're feeling adventurous, make the French seam even smaller. Stitch the first pass of the seam at ½", trim and press. Turn right sides together, and stitch at 1/8". For curved seam areas, such as armholes, use a hong-kong finish or binding. Hems in sheers are pretties if they are small. For one type of hem, stitch a row of machine basting ¼ inch from the raw edge. Using this basting as a guide, fold the hem to the wrong side and press. Stitch very close to the folded edge, using a 1.5 stitch length. Stitch a second row about a hair's distance from the first row of stitching. Remove basting threads. Trim the raw edge close to the stitching. For a second type of hem, stitch the same guideline of basting and press the hem to the wrong side. Stitch close to the edge; remove basting. Trim the raw edge. Then roll the hem to the wrong side, covering the raw edge. Stitch again, close to the edge.


    Sew-in interfacing is the best choice for sheers. Use a layer of the fabric itself as an interfacing, or choose silk organza in a compatable color.

    Pattern Suggestions:

    Shirts, drapey skirts, dresses, tops, full or drapey pants, ruffled garments, full sleeves, scarf-type details.

    Creative Possibilities:

    Combine your sheers with beading, ribbon embroidery, or trims for elegant embellishment. Use sheers as individual parts of a heavier garment. For instance, a wool jacket with a sheer, draped collar would be a beautiful combination.

    Additional Tips:

    Use a delicate touch when sewing with sheers. If you find the fabric to be slippery, use a layer of lightweight tear-away or wash-away stabilizer between the fabric and the feed dogs. Gently remove the stabilizer after stitching. Save the selvedge scraps of your sheer silks to use as stabilizers for other garments.

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