Blue Chiffon Overlay

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Another title for this post was almost Chiffon-It’s Like Sewing with Air! Because it’s very true- the slightest bit of movement when you’re cutting out chiffon or trying to mark it can lead you to curse. The best advice I have for you is THREAD TRACING. That and laying out your fabric on large flat surface so none of the fabric lays over the edge of a table, therefore pulling it off grain.

I was recently sewing a beautiful blue chiffon as a wedding dress overlay. While upcycling a wedding dress (used in the BERNINA promotion), the owner of the dress had a vision of wearing her “new” dress with a sheer overlay over it. We decided that a commercial pattern (Vogue 8766) had really nice lines that would work well with her dress, and found perfect fabric for it at Mill End.

(The dress overlay has just finished drying after being washed in this photo, hence the wrinkles)

We had to keep in mind that Jen (the wedding dress owner) wanted to keep the buttons that ran down the back of her dress in place. It’s also important to note that originally, the dress closed with the buttons alone. Because that makes it impossible for Jen to get into the dress herself, I removed the original button loops and installed an invisible zipper.

After a little bit of sketching and talking, it was decided that the overlay would close in back. At the top back of her neck, there would be a thread loop and a button to close the neckline. At the waist of the overlay though, a thread loop would be sewn on either side of the center back, so that the overlay could close by using a back button. This allows for the buttons to be viewed on the back of the dress, and also makes it so Jen doesn’t have a line of noticeable spiny bumps down her back when she wears the chiffon.

(Again, just wrinkled from being washed/dried.)

Finishing the neck and center back edges on this overlay took patience. Have you ever made 1/4″ bias tape out of chiffon? I used Perfect Sew, a wash-away stabilizer, to hold the tiny fabric strips in place as I cut, ironed, and sewed them down. The rest of the dress seam allowances were enclosed with French seams to prevent any fraying.

Something that I really appreciated with this Vogue pattern was the sleeve cap. Instead of using ease to fit the shoulder into the sleeve, the pattern used darts. It was much nicer to sew than a regular sleeve head would have been, and the darts give it a wonderful fit.

Now I have one more overlay to sew for this dress in a beautiful black embroidered organza, which I’ll be sure to post!


  • I will not be jumping at the chance to sew with chiffon again–I think I need to recover! Your bias tape looks lovely. By the way, I was at your blog yesterday, researching sewing machines. I am selling some of my old papercrafting supplies and unofficially saving for a Bernina 440!

    • You made a great choice on the Bernina 440! You are going to LOVE working with it- what kind of machine do you currently sew on? And chiffon might be easier to sew on a Bernina too- just get a straight stitch plate and a #8 foot. Then, bring your machine out here to sew with me. 🙂

  • Jo

    I made a beautiful black silk chiffon blouse about 20 years ago, and, like you, had an awful time trying to make the chiffon behave. It was such an ordeal! But the blouse really was lovely when I finished. It no longer fits, but I keep it in my closet as proof that I won my first “Jo vs. the chiffon” battle, and I take it out once in awhile to admire my handiwork. One thing that helped considerably was pinning the silk to an old sheet and treating them as one piece while cutting; the sheet helps keep all the pieces on grain, and also gives your shears something substantial to cut through.

    • It wasn’t too bad to work with the chiffon- it just takes a lot of patience! I’ve heard the sheet trick before, but I unfortunately didn’t have any to cut up! Have you ever used Perfect Sew? It helps so much with lightweight fabrics, and washes right out. I’m sure you could whip up another chiffon blouse in no time! 😉

  • Karen McCarty

    What a lovely idea. And so brave to cut up the wedding dress so it can be useful to the owner. We recetntly recovered my mom’s beautiful wedding dress from her cedar chest. I suggested to my sisters that we cut it up for a ring bearer pillow and christening gown. None of us had the heart to take scissors to the dress my mom hand made, even though it will probably never be worn again. I’d love to see the sheer overlay on the recycled dress. The black sounds elegant.

    • I thought about trying to do something with my own dress, but when I took it out of it’s bag, I knew I could never cut it up! I love it too much the way it is! I don’t blame you and your sisters at all for not being able to cut into your mom’s dress. It’s certainly a hard decision to make.
      I will do what I can to get a picture of the overlay(s) over the wedding dress, as several people have asked to see it. If anything, I may have to just show it on a dress form over mine!

      • Jennifer Erickson

        Amy, I shall send you some photos of me wearing the whole shebang(s) when I get all gussied up for a night on the town. The hardest part is deciding which combination first…..

        • Oooh! I vote black! I want to see lots and lots of sparkle added to it! Did you find buttons for the cuffs yet?

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