Velvet. It’s soft. It’s luxurious. Some velvets even have a magical sheen. But is it right for you? Learn more about the wonders of velvet and how you can use it in your home.
Common Types of Velvet Fabric
Silk: A delicate and expensive type of velvet. It has a smooth and soft texture that screams luxury, and has a beautiful shine that is hard to replicate.
Cotton: A cotton velvet is a sturdy and pretty fabric but it doesn’t have as much of a sheen, resulting in a somewhat less lustrous look.
Mohair: Made from the wool of the Angora goat, this luxe velvet is resilient and has a feel that’s a bit more woolly to the touch.
Synthetic Fibers (Polyester, Viscose, Rayon): The most economical and family-friendly choice. Many velvets contain a mix of synthetic fibers with one of the above fibers to make them more durable.
The process of weaving velvet is quite complicated and requires many steps, but that’s what creates the unique texture. Velvet is not flat woven. It has a “pile” which means that it has lots of fuzzy, hairlike fibers that are densely packed on the surface of the fabric, creating its soft texture. This pile creates an interesting dynamic because you can create “tracks” in the fabric by moving your hand across it and changing the direction of the pile. This is often called the “nap” and means which direction the fabric lies. Because of this, it matters which direction the fabric is used, as it will give it a different look. You’ll often hear upholsterers or workrooms referring this to “pile up” and “pile down” when it comes to using velvet. Upholstery is usually applied “pile up,” so you see more of the rich color and less of the sheen. Velvet drapery panels are often created in the “pile down” direction because they trap less dust that way.
Caring for Velvet
There are many differing opinions about velvet and whether it is worth the trouble. Much of this has to do with the type of thread used for your velvet. For example, silk velvet is certainly much more delicate than a polyester velvet. But if you keep up with the proper maintenance, velvet is a workhorse that can be a smart and sturdy choice.
Quick Care Tips
Dust velvet regularly with a soft brush, or use an upholstery attachment on your vacuum to gently remove dust. If your velvet pile looks a bit dented or flat, use a steamer to lightly loosen the fibers and get out wrinkles.
Velvets in rich hues can fade if put in direct sunlight. Consider placing velvet pieces out of direct sunlight, or consider UV filter window treatments.
Liquid is usually not a friend to velvet because the moisture can kink or crush the pile and leave marks.
Like most fabrics, catching stains early, blotting them quickly and using the proper cleaning materials are all key.
Color and Luster
A Rainbow of Velvet
Richly colored velvets adorn thrones and royal palaces all over the world, and they can work in your home, too. Check out the incredible velvet hues that can work on pieces spanning from traditional to contemporary.
Velvet doesn’t always have to be a solid color.
A variety of techniques are used to create incredible patterned velvets. Cut velvets allow for a pattern to be created within the fabric by using different heights of pile. Contrasting color threads can be woven together to create velvet patterns along with printed velvet techniques.
Velvets are available in glorious colors, multiple textures and have a rich history. Shop for more velvet pieces and embrace the beauty of this luxurious fabric.