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Silk Charmeuse Fabric Draping

Silk Charmeuse is a soft, luxurious, clingy fabric often used in eveningwear, bridal, lingerie, sleepwear, and sportswear (not activewear). Examples of garments commonly made with silk charmeuse are bias gowns, chemises, soft-cup bras, robes, blouses, and pajamas. It was used extensively in the 1920's to create those sleek, body-hugging gowns that became a trademark of the decade. 

The following images are quick inspirational drapes that show new techniques and ways of using this fabric. The less structured garments tend to look more elegant and flawless, while the structured silhouettes can look overworked, showing every flaw in the sewing and/or pinning. The plunging neckline gown is draped on the bias, showing how sleek the fabric can look while clinging to the body without the need for princess seams. I hope these photos encourage you to discover new ways use this fabric, while uncovering fresh adaptations for its natural characteristics and properties. 


More often than not, this fabric is used for soft silhouettes rather than structured garments. This fabric is ideal for creating cowls, as it effortlessly falls to the body, collapsing on itself. Silk charmeuse is frequently used on the bias, allowing the fabric to become close-fitting to the body without the need for princess seams. Typically, garments made from charmeuse tend to have less seaming, as it is difficult, expensive, and sometimes can take away from the natural beauty and luster of the fabric. Using Charmeuse on the bias will cause the fabric to grow. Let a garment hang for at least 72 hours before finishing the hem, giving the fabric time to finish growing. 


Because charmeuse is a satin weave, it is easily snagged, and caution must be taken to keep sharp objects away from the fabric. However, even with all of the difficulties of sewing charmeuse, it is still widely used in the fashion industry, as nothing can quite take its place. No other fabric possesses the same luster, drape, and softness of charmeuse. 

Sewing with silk charmeuse can be extremely difficult. Because of its soft hand, the fabric easily slides around, making it tricky to sew a straight line. Using tissue paper while sewing the seams will help to alleviate this problem. Silk charmeuse will also slide around while cutting out your pattern pieces. For this reason it is recommended that you cut out the pieces with the fabric sandwiched between two pieces of paper.


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