Burnout Chiffon

Saturday’s Stash: Burnout Chiffon

Burnout chiffon is a lightweight fabric where a pattern is chemically burned away, leaving a raised opaque area and a burned away sheer area. Often the pattern is floral, with the space in between the floral pattern burned away. Because it’s a floaty, sheer fabric, it’s suitable for a variety of skirts, dresses, lightweight blouses, and home decorating.

Tricks For Working With Burnout Chiffon
Due to the inherent decoration built into the fabric, you won’t want a lot of embellishment. Gathering and shirring will be quite lovely with burnout chiffon, as will ruching. The fabric is too fluid to hold pleats, and any minute decoration, such as pintucks, will likely go unnoticed. Choose loose, unstructured, flowing designs to take best advantage of this fabric’s nature.

Chiffon is notoriously difficult to work with, being incredibly thin and prone to slipping and sliding away. Burnout chiffon has more weight to it, so it’s slightly less of a problem. Here are some tips:

  • Take the precaution of cutting one layer at a time to ensure an accurate pattern.
  • Baste your layers together before sewing, using long hand-stitches.
  • Be cautious with pins, lest they snag or leave permanent holes.
  • Use a lightweight ballpoint needle, specially designed to avoid damaging delicate fabrics.
  • If you have trouble with the fabric getting pulled down into your machine, use a lightweight stabilizer to strengthen the fabric.

Example of the Day
Here we have two examples of burnout chiffon—the same fabric, different colorways. The fabric is ombré dyed, with colors that fade in and out of each other. One has warm shades of copper, gold, and mauve, while the other has cool shades of periwinkle, aqua, and pink. The floral pattern is of a satin weave, giving it a bit of shine, and the negative space has been burned away, leaving a sheer background.

Burnout Chiffon

Burnout Chiffon, Warm Colorway

Burnout Chiffon

Burnout Chiffon, Cool Colorway

I bought six yards of each from Fabric.com, several years ago. My plan was to make from each a dress and a blouse. The warmer color scheme will suit my mother best, so I intend to make her a dress from it, and a blouse for myself from what remains. I’ll do the opposite with the cooler fabric, making a dress for myself and a blouse for my mother.


Have you ever worked with burnout chiffon? How similar or dissimilar is it to working with plain chiffon? What suggestions do you have?

About Lisha Vidler

I am a sewing instructor living near Memphis, Tennessee.
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