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Fabric Lab: Charmeuse

Take control of this slippery fabric
Threads #205, Oct./Nov. 2019

Charmeuse is a light- to medium-weight woven fabric with a satin weave, which yields one bright and shiny face, while the reverse is matte. Most garments fabricated in charmeuse feature the shiny side as the right side, but the matte side can also be used. This fabric is tightly woven but the satin face makes it slippery, and it can be difficult to control while sewing. Silk charmeuse, a luxurious, supple textile, is a favorite for blouses and slinky dresses. Polyester charmeuse is also available. However, it is difficult to press out puckers in polyester charmeuse seams. 

This fabric does not lend itself well to structured garments because of its soft drape. It is suitable for blouses, full pants, lingerie, and piping. It is also a popular lining fabric for jackets, coats, and bags. Silk charmeuse bias binding makes an attractive finish around the neck, sleeves, and hem edge on solid-color wool jersey, wool crepe, and velour. Use a bias tape maker to press bias strips easily. Shape bias tape with an iron and use spray starch to maintain the shape.

Sandra Betzina is the author of All New Fabric Savvy (The Taunton Press, 2017), from which this article is adapted.

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