Charmeuse is a lightweight fabric woven with a satin weave, where the warp threads cross over three or more of the backing (weft) threads. The front side 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. It 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 not used in menswear, with the exception of underwear such as charmeuse boxer shorts.
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 impact the finished result as well. It also tends to leave holes and marks where the fabric was pinned, making the manipulation of pattern pieces more challenging.
Charmeuse tears easily, especially when wet, so dry-cleaning is recommended.