Chiffon is a lightweight, plain woven fabric made out of many different materials. The term chiffon comes from the French word meaning rag or cloth. The fabric is still a popular choice for formalwear, especially in women's clothing. The characteristics of chiffon make the fabric unique.
Chiffon fabrics are typically made from different materials including silk, cotton, rayon or other synthetic fibres such as polyester. The yarn that creates the fabric is first twisted and then woven. This process gives the fabric its unique feeling when handled. Chiffon is soft but at the same time has a rough texture. The fabric is easily dyed to provide a wide variety of colours.
Chiffon is a very thin fabric. Most chiffon is sheer, meaning that you can see through a single piece when it is held up. The material typically uses multiple sheets of fabric to create dresses, draperies and is commonly used in scarfs, evening wear and linings of garments. The thinness of the material makes the fabric very cool to wear, not holding heat near the body.
Working with Chiffon
The thinness of the material also makes it difficult to work with. Another aspect is that chiffon tends to be slightly slippery, making it hard to hold onto. The material frays very easily over time. Garments made of chiffon can be stretched and lose their shape over time if not properly cared for. Chiffon should be washed with like colours to avoid bleeding and colour loss. The material also may lose its colour if exposed to the sun for long periods of time.
Caring for Chiffon
Chiffon fabric made out of silk is the most delicate. Silk pieces should be hand-washed or dry cleaned. Other chiffon fabrics can be run through the washing machine using a light detergent using cold water. To dry the fabric, put in the dryer on a short cycle. Over-drying chiffon may cause the material to wrinkle. To remove wrinkles, slightly wet the garment before applying the iron to the fabric.