Velvet is a luxurious woven fabric that has a soft, fuzzy feeling. It's tufted, meaning that tiny loops of thread are woven into the cloth then cut to produce the soft nap that gives the material its distinctive feel. Historically, velvet was owned and worn only by nobility. Today, it's available in fabric stores as well as couture and thrift shops. Below is a guide to some common types of velvet that are available.
Some fabrics look like velvet, but actually are not. One such fabric is velveteen, which is made from cotton and has a shorter pile than velvet. Another is velour -- a fabric often used for clothing and upholstery. It's also made from cotton, but it's heavier and has a deeper pile than velveteen.
Velvet is a warp-pile fabric. Warp yarns are the lengthwise threads attached to a loom before weaving begins. When creating a warp-pile fabric, extra sets of warp yarns form loops on the surface of the fabric. Usually the loops are cut for velvet; however, uncut velvet has the loops left intact. Velvet's high-thread count add to its luxurious feel and appearance.
Originally, velvet was made entirely from silk threads, which contributed to its high price tag. Today, velvet is still made from silk, but it is also woven in less-costly cotton and a variety of blends that can include rayon, acetate, nylon and wool. To improve ease of movement in velvet clothing, lycra is added to create a stretchy velvet.
Velvet is easily marred and needs special care to keep it looking beautiful. Spot-clean velvet upholstery with a mild, water-free solvent or dry cleaning product. A soft-bristled brush like a baby's hairbrush can be used to brush the cloth while cleaning. Velvet clothing responds best to dry cleaning, but follow the manufacturers recommendations on the label. Never iron velvet or allow it to get wet.
During the turn of the 19th century, velvet was only afforded by those with great wealth. It became a symbol of comfort and luxury, a symbol that has not faded since. Plain weave velvet is solid and thick with no patterns. Cut velvet is often seen in home decor that features patterns cut out around a muslin, linen or cotton base. Crushed velvet is also found in decor and clothing. This style of fabric is thinner than plain weave but solid unlike cut velvet.
If you find yourself with a lot of extra velvet fabric consider recovering an old chair, sofa or bench seat. Country Home reminds crafters that sewing velvet yourself is difficult because of its tendency to fray. Consult with an expert before attempting to cover a piece of furniture yourself. Another less common and more lavish item to upholster with velvet is walls. Instead of installing heavy wainscoting, cover the bottom halves of a Victorian style dining room or study with cut velvet for exotic texture and rich colour.
Velvet makes exceptional evening wear and formal clothing. Dresses, jackets, handbags, scarves, skirts and blouses are all items that you can make from velvet fabric. For a less experienced seamstress, purchase modern polyester velvet for an easier fabric to work with. Whether working with modern or traditional velvets, Fashion Era reminds crafters to take their time and avoid cutting corners. Use a familiar pattern and reserve some extra scraps to test seams and stitches on before sewing your garment.
Daytime sleepers will love having velvet curtains. The thickness of the fabric will block all light from entering the room and provide almost total darkness. Additionally, the look of velvet curtains adds a regal appearance to any space. Simple curtains can be made to hang on rods, or they can be attached to a track for easy adjustment. Cut velvet will allow light through the thin portions and highlight the fabric's paisleylike patterns.