Velvet will always retain a sense of nobility to it. Despite the days of royals parading in velvet-lined, horse-drawn carriages being gone, we still associate certain regal qualities with the velvet material. Wearing velvet is still a fashion statement, and evening wear is popularly made from velvet, such as the little black velvet dress that every woman adores.
Yet in our own homes, we often forget that velvet is not only for dresses but also a decor fabric to add something plush and luxurious to your home style. Learn all about velvet here.
Velvet is a cloth with a characteristic short pile and “furry” feel. Traditionally, velvet was woven from silk, giving it a lustrous shine. Of course, this also meant that velvet was exorbitantly expensive and only the royals could afford it.
Velvet originated in Baghdad in 750 A.D. It was imported from there to Europe – and from Europe, it spread to the rest of the world. The use of loom technology during the Renaissance helped lower the cost slightly, and with the invention of machines like the Spinning Jenny in the Industrial Revolution, the cost was further lowered.
Today, velvet is woven from an assortment of materials like polyester, cotton, rayon, viscose, etc. This has made velvet affordable for all, and it also gave velvet better strength and washability, making it a much more practical fabric for home application.
Velvet is woven as a double fabric, which is then cut into two sections, creating the unique short-piled side. Since velvet is made from materials other than the original silk, it has now gained different characteristics that make certain types of velvet better suited to some applications, while other types of velvet would not be appropriate for the same application.
Here’s a list of the different types of velvet, their characteristics, and where best to use them:
The original authentic silk velvet still remains quite a costly fabric to purchase, but it has incredible properties such as being soft and smooth, having a shimmer to it while still remaining lightweight, and being a glorious drapery fabric.
Silk velvet is mostly used in the clothing industry for capes, dresses, and suits. However, it can be successfully used as a throw on a stylish sofa or to create a designer cushion.
Made with organic cotton, velvet gained a bit more structure since the fibers are thicker, so it has become a sturdy fabric that is useful for some upholstery purposes now.
Moving away from natural fibers, synthetic velvet is made from different kinds of polyester fibers, though it can also include some natural fibers to give it better draping qualities. This velvet is mostly used for dresses, suits, and shawls.
To up the shine of velvet, this blend adds a deep glitter to the soft drapery of velvet, making it ideal for high-end evening dresses and scarves. While not really suitable for curtains or upholstery, it can be used for novelty items.
3D velvet offers unique light profiles, which alter the coloring of the velvet, depending on the angle at which you see it. This chameleon effect has become the topic of scientific studies.
Using different wool fibers, the overall density of the velvet was improved to become rub-resistant and suitable for upholstery purposes. The thickness also allowed for new innovations in velvet such as creating embossed, textured, and shaded velvets that are ideal for upholstery and drapery.
For a more rugged and less “plush” look, linen velvet is the best. This type of velvet is strong, durable, and has a vintage look that is quite desirable in modern homes. It is ideal for simple curtains, upholstery purposes, and making cushions. Linen velvet is often used in combination with other fabrics to create a specialized look for sofas and recliners.
Not only is the material used to create the velvet important to the overall look, but the type of weave chosen can also influence the final appearance.
Velvet is usually woven according to traditional methods, but there have also been changes to the technique due to the different fiber types used in its creation.
This unique fabric has a “broken” or crushed appearance that is achieved by twisting the still-wet material during the manufacturing process. The velvet material takes on a shiny appearance that is uniquely broken into sections.
This kind of velvet material is a great choice for upholstery, cushions, and drapery or curtains. The embossed section is made by stamping the design with heat, “melting” away the section in between the “furry” section of the velvet pile.
Upholstery often uses this kind of velvet material. To achieve the look, the velvet is shaved to get different lengths of velvet.
If you are looking for a thick, plush velvet, this is your go-to. Named after the city where it was first woven, Lyons velvet material is thick, with a lush pile. It is ideal for upholstery and drapery.
There are numerous uses for velvet material. Thicker velvets are used for upholstery, jackets, and drapery. The thinner and more flexible velvet material is usually used for more delicate clothing and decorative effects.
Velvet can be used for several applications. While the obvious one is to use velvet for the visual appearance, velvet has a unique sound-absorbing quality that it shares with fabrics like chenille and microfiber.
This means that using velvet for heavy drapes can help insulate your room from a noisy outdoor area. The velvet material is then ideal for curtaining bedrooms and studies where you can use this sound dampening to improve your home’s acoustic qualities.
The velvet material is also warm. In colder climate areas, using velvet as furniture upholstery, for drapes or curtains, and as throws on your furniture can help warm up a room.
There are other implications to also keep in mind when choosing velvet material for your home. For starters, velvet material creases and crushes easily, so if you want to store it for colder seasons, you would need to do so carefully. It is also not easy to iron velvet, so removing storage lines can be difficult. Two other considerations include:
Velvet isn’t fond of water, and some crushed velvets may not survive a wash. Rather, dry clean your velvet curtains and upholstery. Since velvet can’t really be spot treated, you need to think twice if you have pets or kids that may spill food or mess on your new velvet sofas.
Scotch guarding your velvet upholstery is also an important consideration. You may be able to steam clean some velvet surfaces, but not if you have selected a crushed velvet, where the steam cleaning will remove the crushed effect.
To clean velvet material, you would need to immediately clean any spills, then brush with an appropriate fine-toothed velvet brush to restore the pile.
Velvet material that is made with synthetic fibers may be heat sensitive.
If your new velvet upholstered sofa is standing in a sunny spot in your home, you may need to close the drapes when the sun is really warm as it could melt the velvet fabric. The melting may not resemble the damage done by a candle or flame, but it will shorten and “melt” the pile, creating an uneven appearance.
Additionally, UV rays from sunlight can also fade velvet much quicker than other fabrics. Therefore, you need to consider what the natural light profile of your room is before choosing velvet as an upholstery fabric.
The velvet material is a great fabric type that is versatile and unique and can really become a talking point in your home. We love velvet so much at Kovi Fabrics that we have over 900 different velvet fabrics to choose from. If velvet material is your passion, you’ve come to the right place. Our consultants can easily advise you on which velvet will work best for your unique needs.