Monday, March 26, 2012


Isn't she lovely.  There is nothing like Velvet!  Especially if that Velvet is Mohair or Silk.  I am a very tactile person.  Take me into a fabric store and I want to touch everything.  I think that is why it is hard for me to buy fabric over the Internet.  If I haven't touched or seen the fabric in person I probably wouldn't buy it- that's just me.  I have to feel the fabric.  Does it feel how I think it should for that particular application?  Anyways...  Velvet for me is like... oh I don't know..... how do I put it into words?  It's like butta!  It's soft, it's sensual, it's.... well..... it's freakin' Velvet.  I can't say anymore than that.
This posting is a long one, so sit back and enjoy!

I always say, "don't buy me diamonds, buy me a mohair/silk velvet William Birch Sofa".  People must think I am crazy!!  A sofa over a diamond ring- Really??  To me, I would rather have nice stuff for my house than a fancy ring on my finger! 

The William Birch or Rolled Arm/English Arm Sofa has always been my favourite!  It is a classic sofa that never goes out of style.  And since the arms are lower it is a great sofa to nap on!  No, really it is!  It makes placing a pillow up against the arm easy, making nap time enjoyable!  And if I can have the William Birch in velvet- well more the better.  I would probably want one in a lovely light sand colour, mushroom or navy!

Not a true William Birch but I wouldn't kick it out off my property if someone dropped this baby off on my driveway!!  Doesn't it look comfy??

And this one!!  OY!!  Look at that tufting.  That is the one thing about Velvet - She looks gorgeous tufted.  It is the way that the light catches the fabric.  Just look at that sofa above- now that to me is the true definition of an English "Chesterfield".

Velvet is one of those fabrics that I think gets a bum wrap.  I think people believe that it is too delicate, that it won't hold up.  Well I am here to set the record straight.  I am going to tell you why you should buy that sofa you want but instead of Ultrasuede, you should buy velvet!!  Well I am going to at least arm you with a little knowledge so if you want to buy that velvet sofa, you can know it will indeed hold up to whatever life throws at it!

Lets begin by talking about Velvet.  As I have said, I love this fabric.  Here are some pics of Velvet Fabric;

There is something so magical about Silk Velvet.  The sheen is so gorgeous, so luxurious.

Velvet can be made from a lot of different fibres.  They can be polyester, cotton, rayon, wool, mohair, silk.  There are other fibres but these are the main ones.  Velvet is woven on a special loom.  Basically 2 fabrics are woven at the same time and then it is cut apart.  The simplest analogy is: Take 2 pieces of bread that are stuck together with lots of peanut butter.  Take a knife and horizontally cut the bread apart so now you have 2 separated pieces of bread with peanut butter on them. Think of the peanut butter as the velvety part of the "fabric".  Velvet is known as a "cut pile" fabric.  Loops of "threads" are woven between the two fabrics and then those loops are cut apart creating  2 separate fabrics with a cut pile.  Now,  pile has a direction- this is called the NAP.  When you run your hands over a fabric with a NAP it will feel different when you rub it one way then the other- think of it like rubbing a cat one way and then rubbing it the other way.  NAP is very important to consider with Velvet.  Anytime you use Velvet, it's nap should match- meaning that on a couch, all of the pieces of that couch should have it's NAP running in the same direction . If the nap isn't the same then light will reflect differently on different parts of the sofa.  Depending on which way the nap is running the Velvet will look lighter(shinier) or darker(less shiny).  Depending on how the light catches the fibres the direction of the nap will look different.  In addition to this, the NAP will give you a different feel depending on which way it is laying.  Take a couch for instance, If the nap is lying with the nap laying down, when you run your hand down the front it feels smoother- the fabric will be slippier to sit on.  If you have it so the nap is laying up as you run your hand up the front of the couch, the fabric will be "stickier".  It will grab you as you sit.  Now you may ask why  is this important?? Well, it all comes down to personal taste and effect you wish to achieve.  When the NAP is lying up it will give the couch a darker appearance and it will grab and hold you in place.  If it is laying down, the fabric will appear lighter and somewhat shinier and you will tend to slide slightly.  This is very evident on a couch my in-laws have had for like 40 years.  This couch is at the cottage now.  Not only has it survived 5 children and numerous grand kids but it still looks awesome- no wearing at all!! The fabric looks like it just came from the factory!  It is a little outdated due to the wood trim on it and the "bird" pattern on the velvet, but hey.....  it is 40 years old!  Anyways......  if you have the cushions laying one way- you tend to slip off- especially when taking a nap!!  If you nap with those cushions in the right direction you tend to stay in place.  So really it is up to you- just arming you with real life info!!  If I can conjure up a photo of said sofa I will post it.

Here are some pics of Velvet Sofas....  SIGH!!!!

This is such a great example of the versatility of Velvet.  It looks great whether the style is traditional or modern as in the photo above.

Barclay Butera.  I love Barclay's work- I truly do.  He embodies everything I love about design.  His designs are so full in texture and colour, yet, they are so liveable- that is if you can afford him!!  But one can take many of his designs and use them for inspiration.

This amazing room is by Tilton Fenwick

One of my favourite pics of all time.  I love that Velvet Sofa.  Don't you just want to curl up and watch tv- and you would look great doing it!!

Palmer Weiss.  I love how Palmer mixes things up.  Just look at that sofa.  I love bolsters- don't know why- I just do!!


Just look at that chaise- swoon!!  Great complimentary colour combo too.  And that Farrow and Ball wallpaper!!  This all adds up to some awesomeness!


Notice the Rolled Arm.

Elizabeth Carney

Paul Moon


Wing Headboard- love it.  And in Velvet!!  I would love to have this headboard!

Velvet can come many ways:

1. PLAIN VELVET:  This is the Velvet that most people think of when they think of velvet.  Or you can call it plain old velvet.  Not that there is anything plain about velvet:

2. EMBOSSED:  After they make the Velvet fabric it is then sent through a roller with a design on it.  The  roller with the design on it is then applied to the fabric with loads of  pressure and heat. This  crushes the design into the fabric. The fabric will retain this "flattened" design.  The fabric below is a great example of Embossed Velvet.

What is it with Designers Guild Fabrics??  Is there anything I don't love about them??  They are so classic, so English.  Love them!!

3. PANNE:  It is pronounced- Pan- ay.  After being woven, the Velvet fabric is then fed under a roller but this time the roller is smooth.  This type of velvet is created with the use of  loads of pressure.  The rollers  flatten the velvet in one direction.  This causes the appearance of Panne Velvet to have a high sheen with a smoother finish.  It is a very shiny Velvet.  Some people also call it Crushed Velvet

Panne Velvet tends to drape way more than regular Velvet.  Therefore it is better suited to applications that play up it's drape- dresses, slipcovers for dining chair, drapes.  Personally I wouldn't use it on a sofa or anything that would take abuse.  It is better suited for clothing and drapes.

4.  CUT VELVET:  This type of Velvet has had some of it's pile actually cut away down to the base fabric.  The base fabric will then show.  Some amazing patterns can emerge with this process.  Patterns like Paisley, diamonds, damask- the possibilities are endless.

This particular Velvet (above) is actually created on a special loom,  not the loom that regular velvet is created on.  This special loom is called a "Wire Loom".  The pile is created by looping yarns over the wire and then as the wire is removed a knife cuts the loop, thus creating the pile.

Another type of Velvet that is related to the above Velvet is Uncut Velvet.  Instead of the pile being cut- the loops of yarn are left alone.  This produces a soft dense fabric.  Other areas of the same fabric can be cut thus creating a velvet of both cut and uncut: see pic below:

5. DEVORE VELVET/BURNOUT VELVET:  Once again after the velvet has been created it goes through a special process to create a pattern.  In this case a caustic solution is applied in a certain pattern thus "burning" the pattern.  The solution causes parts of the pile to come away.

The above two fabrics are just stunning!!  If fabric could have a patina I think Devore would be it- especially the 2nd pic (above)-AMAZING!!

The above scarf takes me to my happy place- just look at those colours. STUNNING!!

Generally speaking Burn out Velvet is used mostly for clothing and accessories.  The only thing I would considered using it for in the home is pillows(lined), drapes or a runner/tablecloth.  This type of velvet is too delicate for heavier applications.

As I have already stated, Velvet wears really well.  I know for a time in the 90's and the early/mid 2000's, Ultrasuede was the go to fabric.  It too can wear like iron (i'm talking the good stuff here, not cheaply made stuff!).  Even now Ultrasuede is still popular.  It is especially good for commercial uses.  And I know there are a lot of people that would choose it for their home.  Me, I would choose Velvet.  To me Ultrasuede is like laminate flooring.  It holds up really well, looks good and is easy.  But Velvet is like hardwood flooring.  The real deal, slightly less forgiving  but oh so nice.  Again, it comes down to personal choice.

When looking at either Velvet or Ultrasuede, knowing how to pick the right one for the application can make all the difference.  When you buy fabric at stores where they specialize in fabrics or furniture places, the fabric always comes with a tag with info on it- at least the better stores do.  On that tag there will be info like:

If you see on the tag where it says- FABRIC PERFORMANCE, you will see 100 000 dbl rubs.  What does this mean for you??  Well it means you have a fabric that will hold up really well.  100 000 rubs is an awesome number.  When buying fabrics you want your fabrics "number" to be above 30 000 rubs if you can. This 30 000 rubs indicates that it is "heavy duty" fabric. Anything under 30 000 and  it will not hold up to abuse.  What do these "rubs" mean anyways??  Well.......  it means that after the fabric is created it goes under many tests to see how it will hold up in the real world.  I am only going to talk about one test right now- that one is.... ABRASION RESISTANCE. It means exactly what you think it does.  They place a sample of fabric into a special machine that has either a piece of plain cotton fabric or plain wool fabric on the end of a rod and it then rubs back and forth in the same spot.  They then record how many rubs it takes to abrade away.   There are two tests they use to test the  fabric.  1. The Wyzenbeek test: the fabric is rubbed in the (warp) direction ( lengthwise grain, parallel to the selvedge-the edge of the fabric), and then rubbed in the weft (left to right direction also known as crosswise grain).  2. Martindale Test: the fabric is rubbed in a figure 8 direction.  That way all directions are being rubbed (this includes the bias direction-diagonal direction).  When you see the word "double rubs" it is referring to the Wyzenbeek Test.  I know this is technical but a little knowledge goes a long way.  Generally speaking Velvet scores very high as far as dbl rubs go.  That is why it is a great fabric for the home.

Unlike a lot of other fabrics, Velvet is dyed after it is woven.  Most other fabrics already have their yarns dyed and are then woven to create fabric.  Othertimes the fabric is woven then printed.  And then there are times when a fabric is woven and then the whole piece is dyed-like in th case of Velvet.  This is called Piece Dyeing.  The large pieces of Velvet usually anywhere from 300-500yds of Velvet are put through a process of dyeing until the proper colour or effect is achieved.  The velvet is then dried or brushed or is put through other processes to the desired effect.  It is then shipped in such a way so that the pile is not crushed or the fabric will not be damaged in anyway.

If you are going to store velvet fabric the best way to do so is to hang it- if you can.  If you cannot, when you fold it, it is best to do so with the pile facing each other.  That way the pile will have less of a chance of crushing.

I just had to put the above pillow in- isn't is great?  I know the whole "Britannia" thing is very in right now- but it really is a great example of that style.

You also have to remember that Velvet has been used for hundreds and hundreds of years.  Have you ever seen an antique settee with the original Velvet still on it.  Yes it may be worn in some places, but a lot of times it still is intact.

In closing out this posting I would be remiss in not mentioning one last "Velvet" that is very dear to my heart and my stomach!!!

Just look at it!  Red Velvet Cake is so awesome!!  Have you ever made it??  I have heard that the best way to make it is with Dutch Cocoa.  It goes red the best.  Something to do with the chemistry of it.

Anyways, I hope you all have enjoyed this long posting today on a truly amazing fabric.
Have a great day everyone.

1 comment:

  1. Here in this blog, words themselves are making that situation where there is a great deal of pandemonium and good fortune alongside a quiet separation. Seldom found to see such ability and excitement.
    limpieza de alfombra