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Charmeuse (French: [ʃaʁmøːz]) is a lightweight fabric woven with a satin weave, in which the warp threads cross over three or more of the backing (weft) threads. The front of the fabric has a satin finish—lustrous and reflective—whereas the back has a dull finish. It can be made of silk or a synthetic lookalike such as polyester. Silk charmeuse is more expensive and delicate but is softer and a better insulator. Polyester charmeuse is cheaper and can often withstand machine washing, but it does not breathe as well as silk. Charmeuse differs from plain satin in that charmeuse is softer and lighter in weight.
The luster and delicate hand make charmeuse suited to lingerie, flowing evening gowns, and drapey blouses. Bridal gowns sometime use charmeuse; however, the fabric does not hold a shape well, so it is not used for full, flared skirts; the charmeuse tends to cling and hang against the body. It is best suited to a more fluid, slinky bias cut, and is too fragile and flimsy for more tailored clothing.
It is one of the more challenging fabrics to sew and not recommended for beginners. The fabric is extremely slippery and difficult to control through the presser foot of a sewing machine. Seams have a tendency to pucker and pull; a smaller stitch length and finer thread can minimize this, though the experience of the sewer will affect the finished result as well. Charmeuse also tends to leave holes and marks where the fabric was pinned, making the manipulation of pattern pieces more challenging. For greater ease of sewing, a sizing product can be sprayed on before cutting and washed out after the garment is completed.
Charmeuse tears easily, especially when wet, so dry-cleaning is recommended. The look of satin is highly prized for dressy garments,since it flows well on the body and catches light in stunning patterns.
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