How to Buy Silk Chiffon Fabric

Written by daisy mccarty
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How to Buy Silk Chiffon Fabric
Bolts of silk fabric (Image courtesy of cc license by flickr user storyvillegirl

Silk chiffon is a filmy, semi-transparent fabric with a slightly rough surface texture. It is a popular element in formal and party gown designs. This fabric can also be used for scarves, veils and saris. It is woven of fine, tightly spun fibres and the finished product is fairly sturdy when it is made of real silk. The term "chiffon" describes the method used to make the fabric--it doesn't tell you what raw materials were used. This means you could buy polyester or cotton chiffon instead of silk by mistake if you don't know the difference.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Garment pattern

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  1. 1

    Call at least three fabric stores to find out if they have silk chiffon in stock. Visit the stores that offer a wide selection so you can see and feel the material in person. Write down the manufacturer or designer name of the fabrics that have a weight and texture you like. If a store doesn't have the colour you want in stock, you can usually ask them to order it. You can also dye silk yourself.

  2. 2

    Buy a swatch sample from an online retailer such as You should be able to find a 60-color sample swatch for under £13. This will allow you to compare many textures and samples side by side. Some silk chiffon is stiffened to be used as trim. Other types are intended to drape softly. The surface texture may be shiny or bumpy.

  3. 3

    Visit a clothing store that specialises in ethnic apparel from India and China. There, you will be able to see examples of silk chiffon with painted or woven designs. If you like a particular design, you may be able to get the name and contact information of the fabric distributor from the shop proprietor.

  4. 4

    Make a final decision about the exact fabric weight, texture, colour, finish and design you like best. You may not be able to find multiple vendors to compare prices, so be prepared to invest a significant amount of money to get exactly what you want. Don't buy silk if you haven't seen a sample. Quality can vary widely.

  5. 5

    Look at your garment pattern instructions to determine how much silk to buy. Chiffon is a difficult fabric to work with. It is a good idea to purchase more than your pattern calls for in case you make a mistake in cutting or sewing it. The vendor you choose may also have a minimum order requirement.

Tips and warnings

  • If the silk has a design on it, buy an extra quarter-yard. This way, you can place your pattern so the prettiest part of the design will be located exactly where you want it.
  • Silk should be dry-cleaned or gently hand-washed in cold water using Woolite.
  • Store silk chiffon fabric away from heat, sunlight and moisture.
  • Buy all of the silk chiffon you need for your project from the same dye lot. Otherwise, the colour won't match exactly.
  • Don't buy silk from an overseas vendor unless you have experience with handling this type of foreign transaction. You probably won't be able to return the product if it is defective.

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