Velvet Fabric

With a long history going back as far as the Middle Ages, one of the most distinctive and luxurious fabrics is velvet. It is unclear as to exactly where velvet originated from, but it is generally believed to be from the Far East and formed part of the many trade items which were carried along the famous Silk route to Europe. Production of velvet began in Italy in the cities of Sicily, Florence and Lucca and for many years between the twelfth and eighteenth centuries, these highly successful factories produced velvet for the the whole of Europe.

Velvet was used for everything where a luxurious effect was required, for drapes, wall coverings, furniture, clothes and horse carriages and it was especially popular with the royal families. Today velvet is still extensively used for clothing, crafts, curtains upholstery etc. and is available in many types and designs. Originally very expensive to make, velvet became much more affordable when industrial power looms were developed.

Weaving velvet is a complicated process, the fabric has a close, dense pile, it is woven as a double cloth on a special loom, the two layers of the fabric are then sliced through which creates the pile and the separated sections are wound on to rolls. To finish the fabric, more processes follow including dyeing, steaming and brushing which gives the finished material its soft texture and rich colors.

Velvet was originally made from cotton, linen, or silk, but today it can also be manufactured from man made fibers such as rayon acetate and synthetic silk. These types of velvet are much cheaper to produce and are more affordable. There are also many varieties and designs, such as corduroy, velveteen, crushed, devore, panne’ , embossed, velour and velveteen. Velour can be used for different purposes as it is stretchy.

Clothing and Fashion

There are almost endless ways of using velvet for fashion purposes. The ubiquitous “little back dress” becomes more eye catching and luxurious to wear when it is made from velvet. Shoes and handbags look particularly attractive and coats and jackets of all types and styles are suited to the fabric. The key is not to wear to many items made from velvet at the same time. If wearing a dress or jacket made form the fabric, shoes and handbag should be of a different material.

Using Velvet in The Home

In the home, when used for upholstery, there are unlimited possibilities if you buy velvet fabric by the yard. You could begin with something simple, such as recovering a stool or making curtains and cushion covers and then progress to covering a headboard, or even a sofa. If crafts are a favorite hobby there are many possible uses for velvet including carpeting a dolls house.

Cleaning Tips

Although it is not recommend that velvet is washed, it is possible to treat stains carefully with a damp cloth. Care must be taken not to rub the surface of the fabric too hard, as it may cause damage. To clean the whole item, dry cleaning is the safest method and will usually produce a good result.

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