Organdy

By | May 7, 2016
Nylon organdy.

Nylon organdy.

Organdy – sometimes called Swiss organdy – is a crisp, sheer fabric, very light weight, which has been treated with a chemical to confer some stiffness to it. The stiffness can range from very stiff indeed, to only slightly stiff – but it’s always there. It is always made from either cotton or nylon.

Organdy is a a very crisp fabric – stiffer than lawn or batiste, which it’s sometimes confused with – and it’s often used as an interlining to other light-weight fabrics. Cotton organdy can wrinkle as soon as you look it, but it takes an iron and steam very well. It looks fantastic when you gather it up for a foofy skirt.

It’s one of those fabrics that gets used a lot, but not seen very much. As you learn about techniques for flat-lining and adding structure to a garment, you’ll start seeing it everywhere.

Organdy can be washed in a machine with cold water, although I’d prefer to wash it by hand as I fret about the agitator making mincemeat of it. Hang on a line to drip dry and it can be ironed – but turn the iron down if your organdy is made from nylon and not cotton.

You might see something for sale called “silk organdy”. Technically, such a fabric is organza. The two are often confused. Just remember: organdy is usually cotton and sometimes nylon. If it’s sheer and made from any other fiber, it’s not organdy.

Nylon organdy, gradient dyed (that's a single piece of fabric in the photo). Source: alibaba.com

Nylon organdy, gradient dyed (that’s a single piece of fabric in the photo). Source: alibaba.com

Cotton organdy usually costs around $5 a yard, and once you get used to using it, it’s the kind of thing you’ll buy by the bolt.

It can slip around a bit when cutting, so use plenty of pins, pattern weights or do the basting spray trick. (You might want to check out the entry on handling slippery fabrics.)

You’ll also want to use quite a few pins to hold it together for sewing. Sew with a very fine needle and mercerized cotton or silk thread. If you have a single-stitch foot and plate for your sewing machine, bust it out because, like all sheers, there’s a risk of it getting pulled down into the guts of your machine and the smaller hole on a single-stitch plate helps reduce that risk.

Dress featuring a skirt of bias-cut organdy, by John Galliano, 1988. Source: V&A

Dress featuring a skirt of bias-cut organdy, by John Galliano, 1988. Source: V&A

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