The Sewing Place

Cutting chiffon for circle skirt

Heikedog

Cutting chiffon for circle skirt
« on: September 04, 2017, 22:32:09 PM »
H.E.L.P!!!!

I've wasted six yards of chiffon and three attempts trying to cut out a perfect circle with a diameter of 52" for a circle skirt (the middle layer of a peasant skirt ... using chiffon so it isn't so poofy).  I've got a quarter circle pattern, and I've verified the measurements of it.  I've used pins, weights, folding the chiffon into quarters, drawing out the whole circle flat.

Each time, my circle ends up uneven.  And not just by a little bit ... by several inches.  I did hang the chiffon for a week before using it so that's not the problem.

Any suggestions to get a perfect circle?  My perfectionist tendencies are getting the better of me.   :angry:

Thanks.

Thecostumelady

Re: Cutting chiffon for circle skirt
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2017, 09:42:32 AM »
Can I suggest that you start by drawing a thread across the fabric to make sure you are starting with a straight edge.  Line up the selvages with the edge of your cutting table.  I usually cut chiffon or georgette single, its hard enough getting one shape near enough accurate without trying to do it double!  Don't worry too much about the difference in length on the bias - provided you use the selvages and straight grain as the seams, and they are the correct length the excess (which will be on the bias, can be levelled off later when on the dummy.  It is a nightmare getting chiffon to lie flat on the cutting table, every time you look at it, it moves. Try holding the edges firmly, bending down and gently blowing along the surface!  It works!  Ann x

Marniesews

Re: Cutting chiffon for circle skirt
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2017, 11:18:01 AM »
I'm okay with the cutting, using spray starch helped and cutting on a sheet so it didn't slip. It's the leveling off on the dressform and the hemming that sends me loopy. More spray perhaps…
Aka Jacky F in a former life...

Heikedog

Re: Cutting chiffon for circle skirt
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2017, 13:14:18 PM »
Thanks for the suggestions.  I shall order some more and try again ...

Thecostumelady

Re: Cutting chiffon for circle skirt
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2017, 16:12:15 PM »
I don't seem to have much problem with the levelling.  (Have we had this conversation before? or was that on TSF -<) Anyway, I stand the dressform on a table, find the bottom of the straight seam and dive in with the scissors and eyeball it! It's much easier of course if its only a single circle.  As regards hemming fine fabrics, I bless the day I found the narrow hem setting on my overlocker!  I love it!  If you stretch the edge as you are sewing it gives a lovely slightly lettuce edge. Ann x   

Heikedog

Re: Cutting chiffon for circle skirt
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2017, 17:22:50 PM »
I wanted to draw a perfect circle on the fabric so I could cut it out with a wood-burning tool to eleminate fraying. Since it's a middle layer of a peasant skirt, I wasn't concerned with a nice, neat hem. I just wanted a straight edge all the way around.

Heikedog

Re: Cutting chiffon for circle skirt
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2017, 22:59:36 PM »
If I soak the fabric (chiffon, organza, etc) in liquid starch and let it dry to stiffen it, can I cut it out with the wood-burning tool, or will the starch ignite?

Anyone have experience with this before I conduct a test?

Marniesews

Re: Cutting chiffon for circle skirt
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2017, 11:57:36 AM »
I don't seem to have much problem with the levelling.  (Have we had this conversation before? or was that on TSF -<)
Yes we have indeed but it still plagues me.

Most of the skirts I'm doing are 2 circles of fullness and all the folds do tend to push each other forwards, backwards & sideways making the seeing & the marking both a handling issue. I think I've possibly not got the feel of the hemming technique down, partly because I avoid it (vicious circle). Must make time for more practice as I'd like to make more floats.
Aka Jacky F in a former life...

Roger

Re: Cutting chiffon for circle skirt
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2017, 19:49:01 PM »
Good to read! I'm due to start on a full length circle belly dance skirt, in recycled sari silk.

When handling slippery fabrics, I normally sandwich them in brown paper (with the pattern drawn on it and cut the pattern and the fabric at the same time...

Seems to work and makes storing the parts easier too...

I haven't got much experience in these fabrics tho tbh.
A bit of a vintage sewing machine nut! Singers: 500a, 401g, 48k Elnas: lotus SP & grasshopper, Bernina 530-2 F+R 504, Pfaff 30, Cresta T-132

Thecostumelady

Re: Cutting chiffon for circle skirt
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2017, 23:19:20 PM »
I think with all loosely woven fabrics, it doesn't matter how accurately you cut the fabric, once it is hung, the bias direction will drop. I've just learned to live with it and chop the excess off.
Regarding the straightening Jackie, I think it does get easier with practice and confidence. My skirts are nearly always georgette and, as you can see through it, I tend to use the level I have already cut as a guide.  Even though it moves around and folds back on itself you can usually see through the layers and follow the previously cut edge. You definitely need the hem at eye-level though.  Ann x

CarolC

Re: Cutting chiffon for circle skirt
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2017, 13:02:20 PM »
Each time, my circle ends up uneven.  And not just by a little bit ... by several inches.  I did hang the chiffon for a week before using it so that's not the problem.

You say you hung it, but - did you do this before or after you cut it? You really have to hang it after it's cut, and then trim any excess from the finished hem. This is totally normal, and soft chiffons in half circles can leave you with "crescent moons" of fabric up to 10-15cm (4-6") deep in the middle on the bias, tapering to nothing at the selvedges/straight grain.

We had an extended discussion on TSF about whether you can compensate for this, and a suggestion was to make up the garment in fashion fabric hanging and trimming as above, then take it  apart and use it to cut a new pattern with a revised hemline to compensate for the drop (it would curve inwards on the bias). If you cut new pieces using the revised pattern, there will be little or no additional drop. That's how the manufacturers do it, but it does require you to be making more than one garment in the same size and fabric, and to be willing to waste fabric on a prototype.

Otherwise, just put the dress on the dress form, get out the ruler, marking chalk and shears, and start trimming! I do what TheCostumeLady does and stand the form on a table so the hem is at my eyeline and I can sit down to work. :)

Heikedog

Re: Cutting chiffon for circle skirt
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2017, 16:10:46 PM »
Yes, I hung it before I cut it. However, the irregular hemline was immediately apparent so the problem was with cutting, not gravity.   I will keep this in mind for next time, though. Thanks!!

For this rehearsal romantic tutu, I ended up just whacking off the irregular edges and hemming it. It's still a little longer than I wanted but looks ok and will be serviceable for DD to use to practice.

CarolC

Re: Cutting chiffon for circle skirt
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2017, 09:23:10 AM »
Yes, I hung it before I cut it. However, the irregular hemline was immediately apparent so the problem was with cutting, not gravity.

No, I really don't think it's you, I think it's the totally normal thing all chiffon circle skirts do!  ;)

The "dropping" effect on the chiffon is absolutely instantaneous. All you have to do it pick up a ¼ or ½ circle by its short end and the curved part heads for the floor! You are supposed to leave it for a week because it does get a little worse as time goes on (actually this effect can carry on very gradually for years, especially if you wash the garment), but it doesn't really matter if you don't.

How much they drop depends on the actual fabric, and soft chiffons are worse than others, but they all do it without fail. Even stable wovens like a quilting fabric will do it to a small extent. Knits, too, if they don't have lycra to keep them in shape.

What I do to get nice straight hemlines is to cut my circles first and hang them somewhere by the short ends while I cut the rest. Then I make up the dress/skirt except for the hem. Then I put the garment on the dress form on a table, and measure up with a ruler to make a nice straight hemline. If you don't have a dress form, put it on a hanger and hang it in a doorway, or put it on a person and get them to stand on a chair or table (to save you crawling on the floor!) If you can allow a few days interval in the process even better, but most of the drop happens in the first 5 seconds!

When you measure, find the shortest/highest seam and work from there as that will be your minimum length. Does that make sense? You can remove length from the curves that have dropped, but not add it to the seams that haven't dropped. The only thing to be careful of is that because the minimum length is determined by the straight side edges of the circles, it's worth making the sides of the circles a tiny bit longer than you need in case the cutting goes slightly off or there's a little puckering in the sewing.

You could also retrim and rehem DD's rehearsal tutu to the length you like in that way.

Good luck! It's really not you.

Vegegrow

Re: Cutting chiffon for circle skirt
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2017, 09:35:25 AM »
What a useful thread this is I'm learning loads thanks everyone
"The only place where housework comes before needlework is in the dictionary." ~Mary Kurtz

b15erk

Re: Cutting chiffon for circle skirt
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2017, 10:31:23 AM »
Late to the party, but here's my two penn'orth.....

I've found spray starch works OK if the fabric doesn't slip too much, and there is a recipe online (somewhere), for starch made from cornflour, which seems to have excellent results.

I've also tried gelatine, which works fine, but a few things you need to remember 1) dissolve the gelatin thoroughly before soaking your fabric 2) wash after you've finished the garment or it will feel funny 3) don't hang it on the line, dry it flat.

I had good results with this on a very cheap fabric which just would not stay still.

Jessie
Jessie, who is very happy to be here!!  :),  but who has far too many sewing machines to be healthy, and a fabric stash which is becoming embarrassing.