Glossary: Silk Charmeuse

Charmeuse is a fabric made from silk, a natural fiber produced by silkworms. For more information, see the entry Glossary: Silk Fiber. Charmeuse is also available with a small spandex component to make stretch charmeuse, and there are synthetic versions of charmeuse, usually polyester, available as well. Charmeuse is a type of lightweight satin fabric, thin and with a very soft, drapey hand. It is not what is meant by “silk satin,” in modern or historical use. It is very useful for twentieth century vintage styles, especially lingerie and bias cut 1930s styles. Note that it is quite slithery and difficult to work with, though in my opinion less so than its synthetic equivalents.

Note that some fabrics of this type available today are made of synthetic or man-made fibers, or sometimes silk blended with artificial fibers; blends, and especially fully synthetic/man-made fabrics, do not look, feel, or behave the same way as 100% silk fabrics, though rayon, which is a man-made cellulosic fiber (not a synthetic) is a closer substitute than synthetic fibers. For more information on the differences between natural and man-made fibers, see the entries on synthetic fiber and rayon fiber (which includes information on other cellulosic man-made fibers).

Online Resources:

For more information about an individual fiber, fabric, or other material, select it on the right side menu for “Fibers, Fabrics, and Materials.” This will bring up all entries which have that tag, including (in most cases) a Glossary post like this one, which will offer a definition of that fiber, fabric, or material, and sometimes also offer useful links to outside sources on working with it. For more general information, visit the core entry for the Glossary: Fibers, Fabrics, and Materials. For a directory of all textile glossary posts, go to the Glossary Table of Contents.

Updated January 10, 2012

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