Velvet Fabrics. The Complete Guide to the Timeless Luxury

Velvet fabric is a type of fabric with a distinctive short pile. Historically woven from silk, it can also be made from a variety of fibers, such as cotton, viscose, rayon or synthetic fibers. Velvet is commonly woven as double cloth and then cut apart to produce two pile fabrics. The most expensive type is silk velvet, originally reserved for royalty.

Velvet is the epitome of luxury. We often see it on the catwalks and it’s our first association when we think about eveningwear. Today, velvet material is available to anyone, and it is used not only for special occasion gowns, but also for everyday pieces and loungewear.

velvet fabric drape

What is Velvet Made Of

Though velvet is always soft (remember the word ‘velvety’?), the way it drapes and behaves depends much on the composition. Here’s a summary table of plain velvet and its common characteristics:

Table 1. The common characteristics of velvet
Fiber Texture Use

Silk velvet

Shimmering, soft and smooth, lightweight, with a great drape

Evening dresses, formal wear, wedding gowns

Cotton velvet

Sturdy and soft. Has less drape compared to other types of velvet

Occasion wear dresses, jackets, trousers

Viscose/Rayon velvet

Similar to silk velvet in terms of quality and drape. Usually blended with silk or synthetic fibers, very soft and shiny

Evening wear, wedding dresses

Synthetic velvet

100% synthetic or mixed with natural fibers. No stretch, soft, wonderful drape, resistant to mildew

Evening gowns, dresses

Wool velvet

Heavy, soft, rich, textured. Often very thick

Upholstery, draperies, accessories

Linen velvet

Soft, matt, dense linen pile on the linen or cotton ground. Might have a rugged look

Upholstery, curtains with a vintage look

Stretch velvet

Any type of velvet with a touch of elastane, lycra or spandex

Ideal for women’s apparel to accentuate the curves and hug the body


100% silk velvet fabric is quite a luxury and costs much more than other types of velvet. To make it more affordable, velvet producers often combine silk and rayon, or viscose. What you get in the end is a very flowy, soft and reflective fabric ideal for red carpet looks.

Cotton velvet fabric is less expensive, but it also looks less luxurious. However, this kind of velvet has more body and makes handsome suits and jackets. Most men would choose cotton velvet fabric for their special occasion jackets because it is not slippery and has less sheen.

Plus, there are also some types of velvet that most of us have never heard of. E.g., the Kuba velvet, also known as Kasai velvet, is woven by hand in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is characterized by a very complex geometric design. The Kasai velvet is made from the leaves of the raffia tree, a palm tree native to tropical Africa.

Types of Velvet Fabric

While some of us choose fabric by the way it feels to the touch, others pay attention to the design. Below are some types of velvet material you can find in fabric shops and boutiques.

  1. Crushed velvet. It has a peculiar crinkle look and is extremely lustrous. Produced either by twisting the fabric while it’s wet or by pressing the nap in different directions.
  2. Devore velvet. Also known as ‘burn-out’, this type of velvet cloth has some pile-free areas where the pile has been removed to create the pattern. The ground and the pile are woven of different fibers.
  3. Lyons velvet. A heavy, crisp velvet fabric with a thick pile, woven in Lyons, France.
  4. Nacre velvet. Similar to shot silk, this type of velvet is iridescent, because the ground and the pile are woven in different colors.
  5. Panne velvet. The nap is pressed in one direction.
  6. Pile- on-pile velvet. A type of velvet woven with piles of different heights.

These are just some examples of velvet materials you can use for your fashion projects. In fact, there are as many of them as there are stars in the sky! What makes velvet even trickier is its resemblance to such ‘velvet-look’ materials as velour and velveteen. How do you tell them apart?

Velvet, Velour & Velveteen

Are you one of those people who keep confusing these types of fabrics? Let’s learn how to differentiate them once and for all.

  1. Velvet has the longest pile compared to velour and velveteen. Soft and shiny, it is used throughout the wardrobe, from evening wear to casual pieces. No matter which fiber velvet is made from, it turns any piece of clothing into a high-end luxury item.
  1. Velour, or velours is the knitted version of velvet invented in 1844 in France. Usually made of cotton or cotton blend, it is stretchier than velvet but has a similar drape. Ideal for dancewear and sports clothes, it has also found its way into the world of fashion and interiors. Velour fabric is often used for drapes, curtains and blankets.
  1. Velveteen is made of cotton, or cotton/silk blend. As the name suggests, it resembles velvet but is not as soft and dense. Its pile is shorter, never more than 3 mm deep, and it has some give. If you compare velveteen to velvet, you’ll notice that it has less shine and drape. Thick and durable, velveteen sews well into warm trousers, dresses, skirts, coats, waistcoats, etc. It is ideal for casual wear.

To sum it up, velvet, velour and velveteen may look pretty much the same, but they do differ in terms of drape, feel and even texture. If you’re hesitating which one to choose for your future dress or jacket, here’s a little tip for you: opt for natural fibers rather than synthetics, because they feel nice and adapt to your body. Generally, natural fabrics cost more but think of it as an investment in your style, comfort and even health.

Plush may look similar to velvet, but these are completely different species. Typically made of 100% polyester, plush has a very long pile and is extremely soft to the touch. Compared to velvet, the pile is less dense. Plush fabric is used to make cozy pajamas, robes and stuffed toys.

Velvet Fashion Trends 2017/2018

The first velvet fabric ever created was woven in China in the 3 rd century BC. Later it spread all over Europe and gained utmost popularity during the Renaissance. Italy became the leading velvet-maker, producing intricately patterned designs for nobility.

No wonder, it’s been with us throughout the 20 th century. Remember those head-to-toe velvet jumpsuits and formfitting dresses that were all the rage in the 70s? Velvet has been a constant fabric of choice for many designers, both in ready-to-wear and haute couture segments. It added a royal touch to Fall/Winter 2016 collections, and it’s making its grand return in 2017. So, what’s hot on the catwalks?

velvet maxi dress

Bold colors

Choose bright hues to draw attention to your beautiful self! Though black velvet fabric is a timeless classic, this season’s catwalks are flooded with eye-catching blue, pink, yellow, red and golden colorways. Jewel tones are cool!

Styles to build an entire wardrobe

Jumpsuits, bodycon gowns, drapey dresses, plush tops, wrap skirts, trouser suits, outerwear and bomber jackets – velvet has definitely taken a firm hold.

Accessories

We’ve already seen velvet shoes and boots, and this year some of the fashion designers found a new way to impress us: velvet handbags and clutches.

Top 5 Clothes to Make with Velvet

Since velvet has made a comeback, it would be a good idea to add a new item to your wardrobe. Originally reserved for the richest, velvet has long been used to create grandiose dresses and other attire. Velvet clothes have been decorated with gemstones, crystals and embroidery to accentuate their royal look.

Modern fashion redefines the very concept of ‘royal’ and incorporates luxurious fabrics into everyday wear. And why not? Velvet has a gorgeous texture and a beautiful sheen, and it’s much more affordable now, so everybody can use it for their projects.

How do you wear velvet fabric and what can you make with it? Here’s our top 5 for those who feel stuck in the style department.

1. Maxi-dress

One of the obvious favourites on the runways, it can be made in any type of velvet depending on the effect you want to achieve. Choose silk or silk/viscose velvet if you want your dress to be more on the drapey side. If you’re looking for a stiffer texture and more body, try cotton velvet fabric (it also has less sheen!). Play with sleeves and silhouettes to show your stylish self!

2. Jumpsuit

Velvet jumpsuits and playsuits are ideal for that ‘queen of the night’ look. Wide-legged and slim silhouettes, an open back or a seductive decollete – it will catch everybody’s attention no matter how you design it. Stretch velvet fabric will also come in handy because it provides ease of movement. You may also consider crushed velvet for an interesting twist on texture.

3. Jacket

Velvet jacket is definitely a must-have for a fall/winter wardrobe. Wool velvet material will keep you warm on a cold day, but you’re free to try and create lighter versions. Think classic cuts, bomber jackets, elongated open-front coats or longline blazers. Embroidered velvet is a surefire way to get a million-dollar look.

4. Pants

Velvet pants are versatile. They are great for an office, street, even special occasions! They also team well with a whole range of top garments, from blouses and tunics to shirts, turtlenecks and jackets. Again, you can play with shapes to highlight the curves and hide any flaws. Stretch cotton velvet would be, probably, the most practical choice.

5. Skirt

Let your imagination rule the show. A nice velvet skirt is a key to a fall wardrobe, because it is soft, comfortable and so plush! Whether you opt for a pencil skirt or an offbeat cloche design, pleats or a pull-on style, velvet will be just perfect.

red velvet fabric

How to Care for Velvet

Velvet is a luxury cloth, so you should treat it respectively. The care-and-wear tips depend a lot on the composition. To begin with, natural velvets are softer and shinier than synthetic ones, which means they may crush much sooner. Whatever type of velvet material you end up choosing, remember that it is quite hard to clean, and it does not like rain and snow.

Most velvet fabrics need to be dry cleaned, though some of them are ok with hand-washing. The best way to find out how your velvet reacts to this is pre-washing a sample.

Do not iron velvet fabric, or you’ll end up crushing it beyond recovery. Instead, go for steaming, and start with the wrong side to make sure you’re not damaging it.

As far as storing is concerned, remember that velvet fabrics can crease when left folded for a long time. Store velvet garments flat if possible.

Velvet Manufacturers

Looking for high quality velvet and don’t know who to trust? Go with these reputable manufacturers from Europe to be on the safe side:

  1. Bouton Renaud (France)
  2. Redaelli (Italy)
  3. Jakob Schlaepfer (Switzerland)
  4. Carnet (Italy)
  5. HOH (Austria)

Bouton Renaud and Redaelli specialize in velvet making, so you can turn to them for luxury silk/viscose velvet, soft cotton velvet and velvet devore for evening dresses, eye-catching skirt suits, formfitting jackets and more.

Jakob Schlaepfer, Carnet and HOH produce a broad range of fabrics, including stunning printed velvets and embroideries for fancy apparel.

So, why do you need velvet fabric this year, next year and every year after? It transforms any piece into a showstopper and is a winner in terms of atmosphere and appearance. Is there anything more seductive than a red velvet fabric dress? Plus, it makes everything better! Velvet lapels, cuffs or waistbands elevate the whole look and make it pulsate with a royal vibe. Long story short, this soft fabric is no longer reserved for the holiday season and those award ceremonies – it is versatile and is going to stay this way.

Velvet Fabrics at Tissura

The collection of velvet fabrics at Tissura meets the most exclusive fashion ideas. A luxury evening maxi-dress, elegant skirt or warm jacket — whatever velvet piece of clothing you are about to create, it will exceed your expectations about the way real velvet looks and feels.

Stretch, devore and floral appliqued, velvet at Tissura comes from the leading European manufacturers, whose highest expertise in this fabric production made them highly favoured by the world-renowned fashion houses. In the table below, you can see the fabrics that perfectly represent our velvet assortment.

black velvet fabric Paisley velvet devore fabric Velvet devore fabric Floral velvet fabric
Stretch Velvet, 59 US$ (56 €) Velvet Devore, 96 US$ (91 €) Velvet Devore, 185 US$
(175 €)
Velvet, 395 US$ (373 €)

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