In my mind Velvet is synonymous to luxury. One of the most characteristic quality of velvet is its soft fuzzy pile ( those perpendicular fibers on the surface of velvet). The pile makes velvet look smooth and with rich texture, fit for the royals.
At one point of time, velvet was affordable only for the rich and aristocracy, when it was only made in silk. But nowadays since it is made using other manmade and synthetic fibers, velvet is used commonly in clothing.There are no limit to what you can make with velvet. Jackets , pants, vests, blouses, bags, gloves, shoes, dresses and what not.
The pile on velvet is a result of cut pile yarns. Velvet is basically a woven cloth and it is woven as a double cloth – two pieces of fabric are woven together face to face with long threads; it is then cut in between these clothes with a sharp blade which makes for the luxurious pile.The pile is maintained at a height of less than half a centimeter throughout the surface making the surface very smooth and shiny.
Velvet fabric is available in many grades. You get velvet in silk as well as synthetic bases.The ones with synthetic base like rayon is inexpensive. Velvet is available in many shades of vibrant and vivid colours. Velvet is increasingly being used in home decor as well for making upholstery coverings and curtains.
The different types of velvet are as follows
Cotton velvet – This is a medium to light weight velvet fabric, without stretch; this fabric is great for making day wear, like jackets or jeans.It can also be used for upholstery. It is heavier and thicker than other types of velvet and has a matt look
Silk velvet – This is a very soft velvet with a great drape. It is very lightweight when compared to the cotton velvet but very expensive.
Rayon/Nylon Velvet – This fabric has a nylon and rayon blend backing; it is extremely lightweight and drapey. This fabric is also inexpensive when compared to silk velvets.
Velvet microfiber – this fabric is a new type of velvet and is made 100% pure micro denier polyester fiber ; It is actually a microfiber with velvet qualities. It is used to make casual wear and semi-formal dresses and for upholstering. It is stain and water resistent and very easy to wash.
Stretch velvet -The stretch velvet is a is a blend of polyester and spandex (about 4%). A stretch velour/knit fabric with velvet pile has a stretch of almost 50%. For fitting garments this is good. As it is a blend it is easy to care for – machine washable
According to the fabric texture and other properties, velvet fabric can be found under the following names
Cut velvet – This fabric has a pattern cut out from around uncut loops of pile. Burntout velvet ( Devore) is this type. It is a simply beautiful sheer fabric with velvet designs in floral and other patterns – It is actually regular velvet that has had patterns etched into the fabric. In this fabric the velvet pile is cut away from some areas forming the patterns leaving the sheer fabric in those areas.
Crinkle velvet / crushed velvet – this fabric as the name suggests has a crushed look – it is embossed with an irregular, crumpled texture. It has a great lustre/ shimmer and visual texture which make it a very attractive fabric to sew with. You can make scarves or elegant evening wraps or blouses with this fabric. It is made by fabric being mechanically twisted while wet
Panne Velvet – This is a type of crush velvet with stretch. In this fabric heavy pressure is applied on the pile in one direction.Some times you find the same pattern and feel in knit fabric, but that is not true velvet.
Velveteen – This is a cotton fabric with a pile similar to velvet. The pile is about 3mm high which makes it very luxurious and more heavy than other varieties of velvet. They are great for making dress gowns
Embossed Velvet – This velvet fabric has stamped designs ( usually floral ) all over it
Plush velvet – This is a velvet with a longer pile and has a 100% polyester backing. It is heavier than other velvet fabric . Actually some would say that plush is not velvet. The pile of plush is more than the regular length of velvet pile which is about .5 cms. The blankets made of this is machine washable and very soft.
Sticky back velvet fabric pieces – These are fabric pieces available for you to do craft. You can make jewelery and purses
Upholstery velvet – This is a rather heavy fabric with a polyester backing which is only suitable for upholstering
Checkout the related post – 8 FAQ answered on sewing with Velvet.
How to care for velvet fabric
When you buy velvet you should always check the washing instructions. Some velvet has to be drycleaned only, some can be machine washed, some hand washed.
If you have a nylon soft fabric brush nothing like it to maintain velvet. Make sure the brush has very soft bristles.If you have piling or lint on the velvet cloth you can brush the garment with this brush.Brush in the direction of the nap you like all over in the same direction
Pressing and ironing is a problem with velvet. The pile of the fabric will be crushed if you iron as you do other fabrics. Use a thick terry towel on top of the velvet to press. The pile of the terry towel will fill the pile of the velvet and this will ensure that the pile is not crushed. Always turn the fabric inside out if you have to iron directly. Some special velvet boards which are great with pile ( they have perpendicular wires to not crush pile) are available in the market- but those with no access to this – just keep calm and use steam
A steam iron can ease out wrinkles fast from velvet fabric. Use steam lightly though .
Another thing you should take care when ironing velvet is to go in the direction of the pile.
When washing velvet ensure that you are washing it alone. The shedding of velvet will make your other clothes ugly.If you have accidentally mixed velvet and other clothes. Help is at hand; checkout the post on keeping lint out of clothes. You will ‘need’ to read this.
It is also better to avoid drying the velvet clothes in the washing machine dryer. Hang to dry preferably flat especially if it is heavy
Store velvets wrapped in Acid free paper ; they are better stored flat rather than hanged.