Velvet has been big
fashion news since autumn winter 2005/6 and you can expect to see more it
for autumn winter 2006/7. This picture is typical of a
high street fashion evening gown from Dorothy Perkins autumn 2005 collection
and using velvet.
You can read more about the weave structure of velvet and pile fabrics and
how to care for velvet below.
Velvet Evening Gown
fabulous velvet gown from Dorothy Perkins was part of their
autumn 2005 range and the thumbnail image is courtesy of Arcadia.
recognise that velvet is often confused with velveteen, panne velvet and
corduroy. To these names you can also add finishing processes known as
devore and burnout velvet or flock and embossed velvet which can confuse
velvet, velveteen, velveteen, panne velvet, and corduroy are all pile
fabrics that stand up from the back of the cloth. The surface of the
fabric is a series of loops which can be cut or left uncut dependant on
method of manufacture or end product. An uncut pile fabric will have a
pile surface whereas a cut pile fabric will have a nap surface.
can be made by weaving, knitting or tufting. Similar techniques are
used in carpet construction and towelling can be made from cut or uncut
(loop) warp pile.
Velvet has a
very close and dense pile. There are several methods of weaving it,
but for centuries it has often been woven as a double cloth. In this
method the warp yarns are specially woven as shown in the picture below. The
warp loops are formed over wire rods. Next the loops are cut during the
weaving process. The double cloth is then separated and processes begin
which help the bloom of the velvet to develop. After dyeing it is
sheared or cropped even further to make it level. Then it is brushed so the
cut threads splay out and stand up from the surface backing. Steaming
gives the velvet the bloom that makes the fabric so appealing. The finished
dense piled cut fabric is called velvet. People either love or
hate the texture of velvet. Men often find the texture of velvet on a
woman very alluring.
Face to face (back) method of weaving
cloth, where the knife cuts through the middle during weaving to
produce 2 separate layers of velvet cloth.
Velvet can be
made from silk, rayon, nylon, polyester or cotton. I like silk, silk
with viscose and
cotton velvet the most. Silk or silk viscose mixes are usually
luxurious, soft and flowing and very suitable for evening wear as they drape
exceptionally well. They are though slippery to handle and more
difficult to sew than cotton velvet or velveteen, so read my tips for sewing
and pressing velvet.
is hard wearing and tailors well for daywear. Velvet is best dry cleaned. Pile velvet,
corduroy and velveteen should never be pressed in the normal way of ironing.
They are all are best carefully teased and steamed with a velvet
board, kettle and special pressing instructions as stated below.
A cut pile
fabric is said to have a nap surface. This nap surface is one
factor which makes construction of velvet items more difficult in both
industry and at home. An item needs all the pieces to be cut in one
direction. If you cut with the nap the item will feel smooth in
wear as you run your hands down a garment. Cut against the nap and the
colour will be deeper, richer and more luxuriant in appearance. The most
important point is that every piece of a particular garment runs in the same
for velvet items watch out that every section of the garment runs in the
same direction. Heavily reduced items early in the season and in
seconds shops often have one sleeve or skirt panel put in in the wrong nap
direction causing a shading difference.
mostly made from cotton and the weft pile loops are cut short. It is
not so expensive as good velvets, but quality velveteen can be quite
luxurious and even hardwearing. After weaving and brushing and
cropping dye is applied by brushes which all help add the lustre and
bloom peculiar to this cloth. Velveteen looks like velvet, but lies
much flatter, but all of the pieces of one complete outfit must still be cut
in one direction.
similar effect to velvet in appearance and can make the wearer look slimmer
than when wearing velvet. However velvet usually looks much more
expensive. For sewing, velveteen also has a little more body so is much
easier to sew. Velveteen is also easy to launder and can be washed at
home and given a short spin. It dries very well in front of a gas fire
or radiator which can bring up the pile.
Velveteen is mostly made from cotton with
weft pile loops are cropped very short to no more than 2mm.
made mostly from cotton. Long wefts span several warp and when the
weft is cut it creates the familiar high raised lines or cords with fine
backing fabric lines between. The cords lines run the length of the warp.
Like velvet, corduroy should be cut in one direction only when making a
garment or using heavier elephant cords in upholstery.
is used to produce casual wear such as trousers, jeans, caps and jackets.
It often has other names such as corded velveteen, elephant cord, pin cord,
Manchester cloth as it was produced as a Manchester cotton textile and worn
originally by poorer workers in the same way that fustian was used.
Manchester cloth was very good quality with dense pile but is virtually
impossible to obtain today. Cotton corduroy today is often mixed with
Lycra to make the fabric easier to wear and retain shape.
Corduroy wefts span several warp, but the
cut weft creates the familiar high raised wale cords.
Devoré velvet or
burnout style used to be called broderie chimique and
is best pressed with the pile sinking into that special pressing velvet
cloth described above. Needle boards can damage the sheer elements
of devoré fabric and snag and create pin holes. Always try out
pressing techniques on inexpensive items that you have no love for.
Velvet boards can be obtained at internet haberdashery supplies stores. Note - sometimes this is also called voided velvet.
and panne velour are a knit velour velvet fabric in which the surface pile is directionally
flattened. On occasion it comes into fashion, but is often
used to portray vamps in dramatic productions as it has cheaper look to
it. It is very comfortable to wear as it is knit fabric and has
incredible drape for cowl and bias cut dresses.
Velvet picks up fluff, lint, dandruff,
threads. So often it is black, navy, plum purple or darkest green
and all these bits show to the detriment of the fabric. Velvet is
beautiful when the appearance is pristine and plush.
Garments can be
gently and lightly vacuumed with the special upholstery brush
provided with your cleaner. You can also cover the nozzle end with some
pantyhose leg and use that if you have no special attachments.
Finally either use a special lint remover, a band of hooked Velcro or wrap scotch or
around your hand generously and carefully run the tape down the garment
to drag off stubborn fluff. If you use the hand method be generous
with the tape and throw away and renew it to get efficiency and a clean
lint free surface.
Velvet likes a steamy atmosphere best of all and
should never be pressed unless you have a purpose designed velvet needle
board or a piece of plush velvet kept solely for the purpose of pressing
other velvets. A needle board prevents the pile of velvet or
velveteen from being crushed. They can be bought from good
haberdashers and usually cost at least £25. I've always preferred
those on a soft back that can also be rolled up and used in awkward
parts of the garment. Or you can use
my tailor's ham pattern here to make a velvet tailor's ham. A wooden clapper can be effective too
to beat a seam open.
The cheaper alternative is to keep a piece of velvet
fabric, preferably overlocked or bias bound to prevent velvet fibres
coming out. Place it on your ironing board and press the garment velvet pile
into the piece of loose velvet, so that the two layers press pile into pile.
When you press the seams open place the velvet fabric onto your needle
board or spare velvet fabric piece and place pieces of A4 typing paper
under the seams. This is an extra aid to stop seam edge impressions too.
You can also make a velvet seam roll using a smooth wooden rolling pin
or cardboard tubing from a fabric roll that you have covered with
padding and cotton and finally covered with a layer of velvet.
jacket will be much harder to press than a dress with a loose
lining. If in doubt, take the garment to be professionally steamed
at a cleaners or first try hanging it in a steamy shower room.
Affix a hook to the back of your bathroom door, run a hot bath and leave
the garment in the steamy atmosphere.
you make a mess of pressing velvet and flatten the pile you have usually
caused shine and pile damage that is permanent. You may be able to
revive it which lots of steam and with brushing the pile gently to raise it
again. But once the damage is done it is most unlikely it will
ever regain its former glory and new sheen may always exist where the
over pressing occurred.
Under rather than
over press velvet whether constructing or valeting an item. Try also the freely steaming kettle minus lid
method which can be used with a garment on a firm hanger and just let
the steam penetrate it. This works very well too when trying to revive a
velvet item when staying in hotel rooms.
Or use a travel steamer iron and just hover with steam a few centimetres
from the fabric surface without touching the actual velvet. The
main thing is to avoid touching the fabric with the iron when applying
steam. You can also use your fingers to manipulate flatness when there
is steam in the velvet.
Flaws in velvet - never buy a velvet item with a flaw
thinking you'll be able to repair the flaw. Flawed velvet is flawed.
It is impossible to weave velvet without flaws and unlike tweeds, flaws
in velvet cannot be made good. If the flaw is in a spot where you
might add a brooch or a decorative element like Swarovski crystal
transfer then you may be in luck with a bargain. But most flaws in
velvet will simply look worse if you try to fix them.
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