Silk Series: Charmeuse

silk charmeuse

Emerald silk charmeuse from silkfabrics on Etsy

Silk charmeuse is a light-to-medium weight woven fabric with a satin weave. Its front is lustrous, the back is dull. Silk charmeuse, which (I’m fairly sure) is interchangable with “silk satin,” is the ultimate in drapey fabrics, delicate and luxurious, and suitable for flowy gowns, lingerie, scarves, and separates.

Like many other types of silk, its slipperiness makes it a bit of a challenge to sew. (A general “sewing with silk” post is in the works!) Here’s Emma One Sock‘s tips for sewing with charmeuse.

This type of silk is widely available online, though mostly limited to solid colors. The fabrics are often described by number of “mm”s — but beware, this doesn’t stand for “millimeters,” it actually means “momme.” Here’s fabrics.net‘s explanation of momme:

Silk is measured by weight either by grams or by momme (mm). 28 grams = 1 ounce. 8 momme = 1 oz. In determining the right silk for your purposes, silk under 20 momme is considered lightweight, 20 to 28 is considered mediumweight and anything above that is considered heavyweight. You can calculate that if a 20mm silk charmeuse sells for $18.00 it would stand to reason that a 30mm would be more expensive and so on. The more body (weight) that a silk has, implies a longer shelf-life for it.

Expect to pay between $12-45 per yard online for silk charmeuse. If you see it for significantly less, make sure it’s 100% silk, as “charmeuse” refers more to the weight and weave of the fabric rather than the fiber content.

Here are some sources for silk charmeuse:

- Mood has just about every color imaginable in non-stretch and stretch versions (5% lycra content). A couple prints available online too.
- Silk Road (Austin, mail order available) has 20+ solid colors and a couple prints.
- Denver Fabrics: hundreds of solids and prints, plain, sueded, “hammered,” and stretch options.
- Fine Fabrics has a nice selection of prints.
- Gorgeous Fabrics – several solids and prints.
- Tessuti (Australia) has some lovely prints (they use the term “silk satin”).
- Silk Fabrics on Etsy has charmeuse prints, including polka dots!
- Fashion Fabrics Club – a few nice prints nestled in amongst dozens of solids.
- NY Fashion Center – every solid color imaginable, but no prints online.
- Thai Silks – just a few solid colors.
- Trendy Fabrics – solids only.
- Fabrics.net: tons of solid colors.

Previously in the silk series: about silkworms and harvesting silk, silk jersey.

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