A Guide to Velvet Fabric

Item # X-HT-300208

What Is Velvet?

The term "velvet" actually refers to the weave, not the material. In fact, velvet fabrics can be made from just about any fiber! Traditionally made from silk, velvet is now more commonly made from synthetic fibers such as polyester for added durability. Velvet is woven as a double cloth on a special loom and the pile yarns are made from an extra set of warp yarns. The cut ends of the pile form tufts on the surface, which give a plush texture when evenly sheared.

History of Velvet

Velvet has had a long and illustrious history, with the first pile weave resembling velvet originating in Egypt as far back as 2000 BCE. Between 400 BCE and 23 CE, uncut pile weaves were developed in China, which more closely resembled the velvet we know today. Eventually, the Middle East and Eastern Europe began to develop velvet more regularly with skilled weavers working in Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. Finally, velvet production was improved and expanded upon in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance periods in Europe. Carefully crafted, velvet was most commonly worn by nobility and religious figures. Now, innovations in velvet production and materials have led to velvet being widely distributed and more affordable than in the past.

Why Velvet Is Great

  • Soft, textured feel
  • Luxurious sheen
  • Wide range of colors and patterns
  • Contemporary and stylish
  • Silk velvets will drape nicely
  • Cotton and synthetic velvets are the most durable

Common Uses for Velvet

  • Decorative pillows and accents
  • Headboards
  • Formal and informal living area furniture
  • Bench and ottoman cushions
  • Curtains
  • Oversized floor pillows
  • Bed skirts

Drawbacks to Velvet

Velvet can be resilient enough for everyday home décor, but it's important to keep in mind that not all are created equal. While some newer synthetic velvets feature stain-resistant finishes, silk velvets can be delicate. Check the double rubs of your velvet to determine if it should be kept clear of pets and children, as they may stain or crush. Velvet can be cleaned, but it is not always accomplished in the same way as other upholstery fabrics. Certain velvets are dry clean only, while others have specific cleaning and care instructions. Be sure to look out for these instructions when selecting a velvet fabric for your home.

Types of Velvet

Don't be fooled by its delicate appearance! Sailrite carries 100% polyester velvets as well as blends of cotton, polyester and viscose that boast high double rubs and stain resistance for supreme durability. Velvet made from cotton is known as “velveteen” and is among the most durable varieties along with synthetic velvets. Brands such as P/Kaufmann and Richloom are some to keep in mind when searching for an interior velvet on our site. Check out the blog "What Are Double Rubs and the Wyzenbeek Test?" (#300100XHT) for more information on fabric durability.

What’s the difference between velvet and velour? Well, velour is similar to velvet in that it is often made from cotton or polyester, but has some differences. When velour is made, the yarns are knitted into loops to make a pile weave, but the small loops are cut off so the fabric loses its sheen. The knitted manner of velour also allows it to stretch more than velvet. If you're curious about the difference between velvet and chenille, be sure to read our blog on the topic (#300420XHT)

Here at Sailrite, our huge variety of indoor fabrics mean we're sure to have something you’ll love. Check out our velvet fabrics on the right side of this blog for a peek into our wide selection. What projects have you done with velvet? What colors and patterns are your favorites? Share your creativity with us in the comments!