Wondering what is velvet and what makes it such a sought-after fabric in the industry of fashion and furniture design? Well, velvet is an interesting fabric that has caught the attention of many. But why is this so? As you read on further, you will find answers to your query, “what is velvet?” and much more. Furthermore, you will discover how it is different from other similar fabrics and how to care for your velvet pieces.
What is Velvet?
Characterized mainly for its luxurious shine, velvet is a considerably expensive fabric with a thick and high pile. Usually, it is made with a careful blend of polyester, viscose, rayon, and silk. While it does not have the quality for stretch-ability, it is great when it comes to drapability. Fabric drape means it hangs well and is flattering on the body as it does not add volume.
Velvet is used for a variety of clothing pieces, as well as in upholstery and furniture. Whichever way the fabric is used, it is guaranteed to capture the light in the room, and the attention of the people in it. That said; learn more about this high-class fabric.
Velvet is a fabric woven using a special loom. This contraption is able to weave two velvet pieces simultaneously using a blend of synthetic and natural fibers. Pure natural silk velvet is considered rare and ultra-expensive these days. When woven, the process involves the continuous looping of a single yarn into a braid. Created with a nap of long loops, the darkness and the lightness of the velvet fabric depend on which direction you push the pile. This produces a smooth texture and durable quality to the fabric. This also allows for the fabric to be easily cut and reshaped.
What is Velvet vs. Velour vs. Velveteen
Velvet, velour and velveteen are all known to be soft and draping. However, they mainly differ in their composition and weaving method. Velvet is also the most expensive and high quality of these three.
Velour, on the other hand, is made with cotton and polyester, so is more stretchable. At times, the blend may also have Spandex included. That said, while it resembles velvet, velour is used mainly for activewear, particularly for dance and sport. This is also the material used to make leotards and tracksuits. While velvet has a high pile, velour has more of a medium pile, with a semi-shiny finish and a malleable drape.
Lastly, velveteen is generally heavier and less shiny than the three. It is also softer and smoother to the touch. Compared to the other two, velveteen has a short weight pile and can be a bit stiffer. For this reason, it tends to have a lower drape as well. This fabric is great for upholstery use. While it is similar to velvet, it also bears similarities to corduroy. Velveteen is made with a blend of cotton and wool, so it generally doesn’t stretch.
What is Velvet vs. Suede
Another fabric that is commonly mistaken as velvet is suede. However, suede is more like leather – it just has a napped finish. It is also used for clothing like jackets and shirts, but it has more versatility in use since it is also a material for shoes, bags, furniture, and upholstery.
Suede originates from the French word “gants de suede”. This term means “gloves from Sweden.” The material is processed from the soft and pliable underside of animal skin. While it may not be like leather, it has an aesthetic and feel that is more akin to that of velvet.
What is Velvet Used for?
Velvet’s popularity in both fashion and interior design has its roots in comfort and class. With its mere aesthetic and visual physicality alone, it looks more sophisticated than other soft fabrics like corduroy and chenille. Not only is it cushiony and comfortable to use, but it is also quite durable, making it a timeless piece to have in your home or your wardrobe.
But what is velvet used for? When it comes to Velvet clothing, it is best made into drapery evening dresses that catch both the light and the eyes in a room. Given that it has silk blended into it, the overall appeal of it when used in dresses makes it more sophisticated. However, velvet blends that include cotton, linen, mohair, and other fibers can make the fabric more practical for everyday use.
What is Velvet Used For:
- Clothing including evening dresses
- Home Decor
Types of Velvet
With a bit of knowledge on what is velvet, let us now look at the different types of velvet.
Plain (Cotton Velvet)
Also referred to as cotton velvet, plain velvet has a bit of a stretch and can be heavier than other velvet types. It doesn’t have that the shimmer and shine like the blends that include silk.
Stretch velvet is the common blend of the fabric but has incorporated silk into the mix. It is generally flexible and stretchable, hence the name. Stretch velvet may also have some Spandex included increasing the stretch factor.
This is a type of velvet whose name is derived from its “crushed” visual appearance. The crushed velvet has an inconsistent pattern with a shine to the texture. This is produced by applying pressure to the pile in various directions or merely twisting it while wet.
Panne is similar to crushed velvet and is also produced with the same process. However, its patterns are visually akin to velour and other knit fabrics. However, panne velvets that are blended with a large percentage of polyester are no longer authentic.
This type of velvet is generally a fabric that is printed using a heat stamp. Heat and pressure are applied to the velvet to create a pattern – hence the name. While embossed velvet can still be used in some clothing pieces, it is generally used in interior design applications and home décor.
Intricately patterned and unique, this type of velvet is produced with a mix of uncut and looped threads to comprise a pattern. This is more a relative to a Renaissance or classical aesthetic and is mainly used for draperies.
Pile on Pile
As the name suggests, this fabric comprises of a pattern produced from velvet piles of different lengths. Usually, pile-on-pile velvet is utilized as an upholstery fabric and can be used on furniture or as interior décor.
What is Velvet - Sewing Instructions
I have a full article on sewing velvet for you to read.
In a nutshell:
- Use a walking foot or Teflon sewing foot to prevent wrinkles in the fabric as you sew.
- Use universal needles in an appropriate weight.
- Hand baste seams before sewing as pins are likely to slip out.
- Stitch in the direction of the pile.
- Grade seams to reduce bulk.
- Allow any garment to hang overnight before hemming to ensure the hem is even.
What is Velvet - Laundry Care
While caring for velvet isn’t exactly rocket science, it still entails careful decision-making. As a rule of thumb for velvet care, always go for mild and gentle cleansers, solutions, and detergents. If the fabric or materials come with specific laundry symbol instructions, it’s best that you follow them.
Generally, velvet isn’t a fabric that you need to wash after every use. However, when you do wash velvet, it is best to avoid the tumble dryer and stick to handwashing it gently in cold water. Since it is classified as a delicate material, it is ideal for you to sort velvet from other rough fabrics like denim. Use a mild detergent suitable for velvet.
Steam Don't Iron
Never iron velvet if possible as it can crush the pile and leave shiny marks. If you have quite a number of velvet pieces in your home and in your wardrobe, a garment steamer is an investment that can save you time, stress, and energy. This is also a great washing alternative if your velvets don’t necessarily have a stain on them. Steamers are versatile and can be used to remove creases on clothes of any fabric type as well.
What is Velvet Stain Removal
Since this is a quality fabric blend of natural and synthetic fibers, the best way to care for velvet is to use specialty solutions.
For stain removal, use mild detergents that are chemically formulated for delicate fabric and velvet in particular. While velvet is essentially durable, any harsh chemicals can damage the pile and even dull the silky shine. In order to be sure if the chemicals or solution to use is right, dilute it first in a basin of cold water and do a patch test on one area of the fabric that is less noticeable.
What is Velvet – In Conclusion
It is our hope that this fabric guide has answered your questions regarding what is velvet and the other factors that constitute its use, care and composition. In conclusion, velvet is a luxurious fabric that needs to be cared for in order to last. Given that it is made with a careful blend of quality fabrics, velvet tends to be more costly than most fabrics. It also has limited and specific uses – particularly in draperies and gowns. While it may not be an ideal fabric to use daily, one thing we can all agree on is that velvet really gives you a sense of luxury and elegance. It provides just the perfect weight for comfort and it can give any interior the boost of class and sophistication it needs. Ultimately, this is a fabric we all can hail as a worthwhile investment.
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