What Is Velvet Fabric?

Velvet fabric is a type of woven tufted fabric with a soft, short dense pile.  It is suitable for both curtains and upholstery.  Velvet fabric dates back to over 4000 years ago.  Due to its lengthy manufacturing process, being traditionally made with silk and that it requires more thread in manufacturing, it used to be considered a luxury fabric that only wealthy families could afford and was often associated with royalty.   Since the industrial revolution and advances in textile manufacturing and readily available materials, velvet has become accessible to those that aren’t so wealthy. Nowadays it is also not always made from silk thread, but cotton and synthetics have been used which has reduced the cost of it.

Velvet fabric has what is known as a nap; when you run your hand down a length of fabric it will feel rough in one direction and smooth in the other.  The nap affects the colour of velvet fabric, with it appearing darker in the direction in which the nap runs up.  When cutting velvet fabric for upholstery pieces or for curtains, it is important to consider the nap.

striped red white velvet upholstery fabric roll of duck egg velvet stripe curtain upholstery fabric

The Manufacture of Velvet Fabric

Warp yarns are lengthwise threads attached to a loom before weaving begins.  Velvet fabric is woven on a special loom as a double cloth.  The warp threads go through two pieces of cloth, opposed to just one and then they are cut apart with a blade along the warp to create a pile effect as the threads stick up.  The two lengths of fabric are taken up on a separate roll as it is cut.  Velvet fabric is a warp-pile fabric as it is created by warp or vertical yarns; its imitated version, velveteen, often associated as cheaper velvet, is created by weft or fills yarns.

Velvet fabric used to be made from solely silk threads, which is why it was so expensive.  Today velvet fabric is still made from silk threads; however it is also woven in cheaper cotton and a variety of blends that can include rayon, acetate, nylon and wool. Lycra is added to create stretchy velvet to improve velvet fabric uses.

Types of Velvet Fabric

  • Cisele: Cisele velvet fabric is a satin weave fabric with a velvet pattern on a sheer background.
  • Crushed: Crushed velvet fabric can be produced by pressing the fabric down in different directions. It can also be produced by mechanically twisting the fabric while wet. Crushed velvet fabric has a patterned radiant appearance.
  • Devore: Devore velvet fabric is produced by chemically dissolving pile areas of the velvet with caustic solution leaving sheer areas of fabric. Usually a definite pattern is produced.
  • Embossed: Embossed velvet fabric is produced using a metal roller that is used to heat-stamp the fabric, producing a pattern.
  • Hammered: Hammered velvet fabric is very radiant, looks mottled, and somewhat compressed.
  • Panné: Panne velvet fabric is a type of crushed velvet fabric that is produced by applying heavy pressure which forces the pile in a single direction.
  • Plain: Plain velvet fabric is commonly made of cotton or silk, has a rich colour and can be used for many purposes.
  • Silk: Silk velvet fabric is more expensive than plain velvet, and is usually shinier and softer than cotton velvet fabric.
  • Viscose: Viscose velvet fabric is more similar to silk velvet fabric than cotton velvet fabric.
  • Velveteen:  Velveteen fabric is a type of imitation velvet fabric. It is normally made of cotton or a combination of cotton and silk. Velveteen fabric has greater body, does not drape as well and has less radiance than true velvet fabric.

Velvet Fabric Care

Velvet fabric is difficult to clean because of its pile.  We always recommend that you dry clean velvet fabric to avoid damaging it.


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