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Silk Charmeuse Stretch Fabric Draping

Stretch Silk Charmeuse is unique in that it blends the classic properties of a silk charmeuse with a small amount of spandex. The fabric retains the characteristics of silk charmeuse such as luster, slinkiness, the ability to be used on the bias, and softness. However, the spandex allows this fabric to be tight fitting to the body, rather than just the typical shift style bias gowns that silk charmeuse is often used for. With basic silk charmeuse, the fabric must be used on the bias in order to create a body-hugging silhouette. The spandex allows the charmeuse to be used on other grainlines, while preserving the close-fitting aesthetic. Stretch Silk Charmeuse is commonly used for eveningwear, blouses, skirts, lingerie, robes, babydolls, theater costumes, prom dresses, and wedding gowns. 

The following quick-drapes show the luster, softness, and hand of stretch silk charmeuse. I hope they provide inspiration in the form of new silhouettes and techniques not so common to the use of stretch silk charmeuse. The luster and body-hugging nature of the fabric is sure to turn heads wherever you go!

The fabric goes through a steaming process called “sponging” before being rolled and delivered to wholesalers. During this process the fabric is steamed, and then immediately passed over vents to be cooled. The steam relaxes the fabric, allowing the fabric to drape effortlessly without imperfections, while adding a loftier hand. This process also removes any strains in the fabric that occur during the weaving process. 

Because this fabric is a satin weave, it is prone to snagging, and extra care should be taken. The back side of the fabric appears dull, as the floats on the right side of the fabric create the luster charmeuse is known for. 

The spandex fiber in stretch charmeuse allows the garment to fit a variety of sizes. For this reason, it would be a wise choice for garments such as costumes that may be used by a number of different people, or even for a garment where you don't have the ability to have a fitting with the wearer. The stretch properties also come in handy for blouses and skirts that may need slightly more room for movement.

The fabric drapes softly, with little to no body. Silk Charmeuse is beautiful when draped in layers, as the fabric collapses onto itself, creating extreme highlights and shadows. Stretch Silk Charmeuse is lightweight, but still an opaque fabric when used in dark colors. It is recommended to use a lining or slip when working with light colors, as they may appear slightly sheer. 

With such an extensive amount of colors available, it is a perfect fabric to pair with monochromatic colors in chiffon and organza. By combining these fabrics, you can create interesting textures and unique silhouettes while keeping a cohesive and similar color palette.

Since stretch silk charmeuse retains the characteristics as regular silk charmeuse, the same sewing considerations should be taken. Cut the fabric by layering it between two sheets of paper to create a smooth and accurate shape. Also, tissue paper may be used when sewing to control fabric sliding and prevent the fabric from getting caught in the feed dogs of the machine. Stretch silk charmeuse will still pucker easily, which is why you will typically see as few seams as possible in a silk charmeuse garment.

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