Charmeuse

By | May 7, 2016
Silk charmeuse. Source: moodfabrics.com

Silk charmeuse. Source: moodfabrics.com

Charmeuse is a satin-weave fabric in which the weft threads float over three or more warp threads at a time. It’s different from satin in that it uses a different ratio of warp to weft threads (over and under) than satin does.

Wonderful. What does that mean? That means charmeuse is a lightweight, shiny, slippery fabric, with a fluid hand a soft drape. It’s a great fabric for luxurious blouses, evening, gowns, lingerie and such. Very lightweight charmeuse may be used as a lining for garments. Don’t be an idiot like I was one time and use stretch charmeuse, though. Oof. That made a lot more work for me than I needed.

If you want to give yourself a tactile treat, get your hands on some silk charmeuse. It’s dreamy. Unfortunately, it’s not cheap. I’ve found it for as low as $15/yd on sale, but $30/yd seems to be a more typical price. Fortunately, there are many cheaper alternatives out there. Polyester charmeuse can be had for as little as $4/yd, although $6 to $7/yd is more typical. It can be found in a whole rainbow-full of colors and printed patterns of all kinds.

Bias-cut evening dress by Madeline Vionnet, 1933. Source: Dulwichonview.com

Bias-cut evening dress by Madeline Vionnet, 1933. Source: Dulwichonview.com

That slipperiness makes it a challenge to sew, though – polyester more so than silk. Check out the entry on how to sew slippery fabrics to learn about coping with ditto. It doesn’t forgive pinholes, either – so keep those pins within the seam allowance.

Use a Microtex/sharp needle when sewing, as lightweight as you think the fabric will allow. Use mercerized cotton or cotton-covered polyester thread.

Polyester charmeuse. Source: Etsy.

Polyester charmeuse. Source: Etsy.

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