Creative articles about sewing

Tipps & instructions for sewing velvet

Dear community,
in this blog post you can find detailed instructions & tipps for sewing velvet.

5 tips for sewing velvet

The holidays are coming, and I bet there are quite a few people among you that are planning to sew a festive dress for Christmas.

Velvet is a popular material for festive clothes. Associations of royal robes and theater curtains come to mind.

Today, I bring you five tips for sewing velvet. You can transfer these tips to other fabrics with pile, like corduroy.

5 Tipps for Sewing Velvet

Tip 1: Prewashing

I would always recommend to prewash fabrics. Wouldn’t it be so sad to discover your finished garment had shrunk in the wash? All that work, maybe for nothing. So please, be patient and wash your fabric before cutting.

The most used and sold version of velvet is the one made from cotton. Cotton tends to shrink in the wash – so one more argument for prewashing.
If you buy fabric online, there should be some form of note on how to wash it correctly.

If serge the open edges where the fabric has been cut with my bernette funlock 44 overlock machine before washing to prevent fraying.

When you dry the fabric on a clothesline, maybe you don’t want to use clothespegs: as you can see below, they leave pressure marks. If you don’t have a lot of fabric and want to use every inch, put a piece of felt between fabric and peg. This will prevent the marks you can see in the picture below.

5 tips for sewing velvet

Tip 2: Cutting

Before laying out your pattern pieces, think about how you want the pile to run.
If you run your fingers over velvet fabric, you will notice that your fingers will run more smoothly in one direction than in the other. In one direction, there should be a slight resistance because your fingers run against the nap.

5 tips for sewing velvet

You can cut pattern pieces with the nap or against the nap. This will have different effects: Cut against the nap, the fabric will appear more vibrant in colour; cut with the nap, the colours will be more toned down. On the other hand, the clothing piece can appear more smoothly, because the pile won’t stand up when you run your hands over the fabric.

It is recommended to cut all pieces in the same direction. Be careful not to cut some pieces against and some pieces with the nap. But of course, there is an exception: you can use the different look as a design feature and cut pieces with and against the nap for an interesting and subtle contrast.

Tip 3: Finishing edges

Now that you’re finished with the cutting, how does your workspace look? Let me guess: Probably full of lint.

When you’re cutting velvet, the little threads of the lint get cut through and land everywhere. My solution: finish all edges directly after finishing the cutting process. Use an serger or the zigzag stitch of your sewing machine.

This will prevent lint from getting all over your workspace and, even worse, your sewing machine. You want to keep your sewing machine clean from lint as much as possible.

5 tips for sewing velvet

Tip 4: Sewing

Don’t use wonderclips and similar devices for sewing velvet – they can leave pressure marks. Use a lot of pins instead. Because of the pile, the pieces can slide in different directions, which can make sewing and matching of the pieces a bit difficult.

So take more time with pinning and use a walking foot for even better results.

Tip 5: Pressing

I already mentioned it: Velvet is pressure sensitive! Keep that in mind when pressing, because your iron can leave pressure marks in the fabric that can be tricky to get out.

There is a special needleboard that’s made for pressing velvet. The one we used in the tailor shop was like a big piece of velcro: The pile could slip between the little “needles” and wouldn’t be crushed when pressing.

I don’t have one of these needleboards at home, so I use terrycloth insted. It doesn’t have the same effect, but the pile doesn’t get crushed that bad. I use steam first, then, if I have to, carefully press the seams apart.


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