An opaque silk or polyester satin-weave fabric with one shiny side and one matte side.
There is nothing quite as luxurious as the feel of silk charmeuse. Soft, cool and supple, it flows against the skin. Cut on the bias, it shapes to the figure but never feels constricting.
Charmeuse is a lightweight fabric; silk varieties breathe and drape beautifully, making them desirable fabrics for formal wear, lingerie, and summer garments. Because charmeuse has no bulk, it is a fine fabric for blouses or shells to be worn under a suit jacket.
Because of its satin weave, with hard-twisted yarns in the warp, and crepe threads in the weft, charmeuse has a shiny face and a dull or matte back. It is similar to satin but lighter in weight; where satin has a crisp hand, charmeuse has a soft hand and a liquid drape. It is clingier than satin, especially when cut on the bias.
Charmeuse is made from various fibers: silk is the most luxurious; polyester is also available. Stretch charmeuse contains up to 5% spandex to give it elasticity. Weights vary and are noted in mommies (MM); they range from around 12MM for lighter weight up to 19.5MM for heavier weight fabric.
Sand-washed charmeuse has a modified surface appearance; its satin side has been abraded to become lustrous but not shiny. Charmeuse can be found in both prints and solids.
Use charmeuse for blouses, evening gowns, lingerie, and nightgowns. It also makes a very luxurious lining.
Charmeuse is also known as crepe back satin.
Tips & Tricks
Handle with care! Charmeuse can snag easily.
Needle and pin holes are permanent. Pin in the seam allowances.
Washing charmeuse will change its surface appearance. You may prefer to have it dry-cleaned.
Use a straight stitch foot and needle plate to support the fabric and prevent it from being drawn into the opening of the needle plate; or use a piece of stabilizer or paper under the fabric to begin the seam.
Use a Microtex needle in size 60/8 to 70/10, as appropriate for the weight of the fabric.
A short stitch length, around 2.0, works well on the straight grain. A very narrow zig-zag is recommended for sewing on the bias.
Press carefully, using a dry iron or a sturdy press cloth to avoid creating water spots on the charmeuse.
Unless it is cut on the bias, charmeuse frays easily. Finish straight edges by serging or hand overcasting.
Working with charmeuse can be challenging because of the properties of the fabric. Be prepared to take your time and focus on each step of the construction process.