Organza. Otherwise known as that sheer that isn’t organdy.
Although they’re often confused with each other, organza is very different from organdy. Yes, they’re both sheer lightweight fabrics made from tightly-twisted yarns. They can both be pretty crisp and can look hecka fun when gathered up. But that’s where the similarity ends.
Organza is most often made from polyester, but can be made from nylon, silk and other fibers. Generally, you can only find cotton organdy in a few colors – heck, I’ve never seen it in anything other than black or white – but organza comes in… EVERYTHING.
Organza is often a base for further embroidery or embellishment. Anyone who’s visited the “special occasion” section at a generic fabric store has seen embroidered organza, glitter organza and even metallic organza. Organza with sequins and embroidery. Organza with snowflakes and stars…. you get the idea.
This stuff is de-rigeur for anyone wanting to costume anything with “princess” in the description. It’s used in bridal wear, dance costumes, fantasy costuming, you name it. Just remember that it does have some body to it, so if you’re gathering it up into a tight space, expect some serious FOOF.
If you want a sheer that’s loose and drapey, without the foof, consider chiffon.
Organza can be cheap. Plain polyester organza starts around $4 a yard – less if you’re buying it by the bolt – and even the sequin-and-shiny embroidered organza probably won’t run you more than $12 a yard. Silk organza can be pricier. The plain use-it-for-interfacing stuff is around $6 a yard, but you can find fancy colored and embellished silk organzas for $20 to $35 a yard. You can’t beat it when you’re striving for a yeah-I’m-royalty-and-have-money-to-burn, but if you don’t have money to burn, consider polyester, first.
It can be slippery underhand, very slippery, so break out the pattern weights and rotary cutter to cut it out and use lots of pins when you’re sewing it. It can fray a bit, but it’s relatively easy to stay on top of. Use a fine needle for lightweight fabrics and silk or mercerized cotton thread. Use a slightly shorter stitch length than normal and if you’ve got a straight stitch foot and needle plate for your machine, use it. Don’t backstitch at the start and end of your seams, but tie off the threads instead. Hold organza taut while sewing it, but don’t “pull” it through your machine.
Because it’s polyester, you can machine wash it on cold and tumble dry low, although I’d skip putting it through the dryer in favor of laying it out to dry. There’s not much to it AND it’s polyster – generally – so it’ll dry fast.