Friday, May 31, 2013

Silk Organza Magic: An Underlining Tutorial

Years ago when I first heard about how fabulous organza was, I was very curious.  On my next trip to my local JoAnn Fabrics (I bet you know where this is going . . .) I decided to check it out.  Over with the “bridal” satin and lace was a plethora of organza, of the polyester persuasion.  It felt awful, but it sure did spring back into shape, so maybe all of the hype was for a good reason?

Well, my dislike of polyester was proved right.  The stuff was hideous and terrible to work with.  The iron would just as soon melt the yardage as crease it properly.

How much of a difference could fabric content make?  Turns out, a massive difference!  It is similar to my experience with polyester seam binding (horrid) versus my beloved rayon seam binding (the stuff dreams are made of!).

Silk organza really is a miracle fabric, in my opinion.  It is crisp, lightweight, and can perform so many different functions.  First off, it makes truly beautiful finished garments.  At the other end of the spectrum, it also makes an excellent press cloth.  Tear it into strips, and it can help to stabilize an opening.  I even substitute organza for fusible interfacings on facings. 

One of my favorite tricks is using organza to stabilize the back of a skirt (or anything else for that matter).

Fitted skirts or pants can easily stretch and bag out at the back after a day of wear.  Generally, a cleaning will get those fabric fibers back to normal, but I would rather avoid the issue in the first place!  A layer of silk organza added to the back pieces as an underlining layer can help to minimize this problem.

First, make sure to pre-treat your silk organza just as you pre-treat your fashion fabric.  There is no sense going through all that extra work to have everything shift and shrink after the first wash.  A dunking in water may change the hand of the organza slightly, but it will retain its crispness and stability, which is what we want!

Using your pattern piece, cut out the pieces needing stabilization in organza.  Before removing the pattern, flip the pinned pieces so that the organza faces up.   Mark darts, and all necessary symbols in chalk or your preferred method.  

Feel free to mark up the organza with grainlines, and anything else you think will come in handy later.  Unless your fashion fabric is white or very sheer, those chalk marks are not going to show through.  

This is especially helpful with fabrics that are a challenge to mark, like chenille!  If you think your markings are not showing very well on the organza, place it over your fabric, and they will often pop with a bit of background contrast.

The marked organza is now placed on the WRONG side of your fabric, and pinned carefully into place.  Before you cut anything out, it is time to baste the two layers together.  I like to use silk thread for this purpose because it makes hand sewing more enjoyable, and should you need to remove your stitches later on, the thread will pull out smoothly without marring your fabric!

And make sure that duplicate pieces are placed correctly.  You do not want to baste an entire piece only to find that you have two left side back skirt pieces!

This particular dress has a center back pleat, and to ensure that the organza did not shift during construction, I stitched along that line as well, making sure that particular line of stitching was invisible from the right side of the fabric.  This also helps to stabilize those fold lines in the drapey chenille.

Any darts should be basted just inside the stitching line.  To help keep the two layers from shifting, it is a good idea to baste through the center of the dart as well.

Now you are ready to begin the construction of your garment.  And there you have it – a fitted skirt made from a fabric with quite a bit of drape that will retain its shape.

For this particular project, I also used the organza to stabilize the back stay, made from rayon satin . . . 

and to give a bit more oomph to the pleated back bodice pieces.

Have fun playing with silk organza – it really is the perfect addition to the sewing room, right along with your essentials like good sewing sheers, pins, and an iron.  

Just make sure to avoid the polyester stuff - it will only lead to tears!

[The fabric for this dress was received in exchange for my contributions as a Britex Guest Blogger.]


  1. What a great tutorial! You've reminded me that I need to baste my pieces more when I underline them!

  2. What a great idea. Thank you!!

  3. This is wonderful! I will have to try silk organza as an underlining. It's difficult for me to find though. My local fabric shops don't carry any silk besides the occasional bolt of dupioni. Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. Thank you. This is great information and clearly presented:)

  5. I thought only people in books did this kind of basting... but you've proved my hypothesis false. OK I'll improe my technique and not just 'wing-it'. It probably pays off later in the wearing.

  6. I consistently learn so much for your blog, thank you very much, dear gal.

    Have a joyous first weekend of June!
    ♥ Jessica

  7. This is such great information! Thanks for sharing :)

  8. Wonderful as always, Thank you so much! Silk organza is really hard to find in Anchorage AK and the few times I can find it, the price is outrageous. :( So buying online is about my only option... It has been awhile but I have ordered silk organza from Dharma Trading before, really great prices and quality stuff. Shipping wasn't too bad either. Here is the link, if anyone is interested.

    Also was wondering if you have the name of the Chanel Couture 2004-05 Fall/Winter Collection on YouTube? The link doesn't show up in your post anymore. Thanks.

    1. Thank you for the link, Ms. Kelly. I was wondering where to find this and you've helped.



  9. Hello, what a gorgeous dress you made!! Wow!! I was wondering if you could help with 2 questions, for all the info on the seems some info is hard to find. Lol! Would silk satin-faced organza work well as a wedding dress bodice liner, and would it also work well as the skirt face fabric? I can only find suggestions to use it as under structure. Is that because it wrinkles easily? Thank you for any insight and your time!