Excellent Velvet Fabric: History, Traits, Uses and More

by | Apr 29, 2024

Have you ever had velvet ice cream? Or read poetry like, “Her velvet eyes sheer my spine.” I’m sure you did. I always thought what’s so special about velvet?

But once I touched real velvet fabric, I instantly knew why! Why velvet is used so predominantly as a metaphor for softness, smoothness, and comfort.

We are Team Muslin Dhaka. It’s a group of fashion designers, fabric experts, and marketers. With our cumulative experience of 37 years, we create epic content about fashion and fabric.

And people here are so passionate, hardworking (and funny). We had great joy experimenting, researching, and discussing velvet fabric.

Most likely, we did not leave any stone unturned about velvet. So, without further ado, let’s jump on the velvet.

What is Velvet?

Velvet is a soft, smooth, and shiny fabric with a dense pile. The piles contribute to velvets’ unique features. It makes velvet velvety.

The feel of velvet is weirdly unique, that it is hard to explain without the word velvet. It’s also hard to understand until you experience it. (we will do our best to explain)

Evening wear, upholstery, home decor, robes, bedding, and dresses are made with velvet fabric. Women’s clothes are more common than men’s.

Why? Good question. Maybe women resemble more with softness and comfort. Well, don’t call me cliche. It is what it is.

Let’s move the discussion. Here is a quick highlight.

Industrial NameVelvet
OriginAncient China and Egypt.
Other NamesVelveto, velveteen.
ConstructionTwo pieces of fabric woven together and cut from the middle contribute to the soft pile.
Weight150-250 GSM.
ColorRed is most popular, while blue, green, black and other colors are quite common.
AirflowBreathable.
Moisture AbsorbanceLow. Some can resist water.
WeavingTabby, twill, or satin fabric weave.
StretchNot usually.
Heat InsulationComfortable.
Shrinkage RatioUsually does not shrink with proper care.
UsageFor clothes, upholstery, accessories, and decoration.

History of velvet Fabric

History of Velvet Fabric

Once, velvet fabric was so special and luxurious that only elites could afford it. But it is a different story today.

After the Industrial Revolution, mass production was the new norm. The availability of cheaper materials & automatic machines, the production of velvet became easier. That reduced the cost of common velvet today.

However, luxury and exotic velvet are still out there. Those are among the most precious fabrics that exist in the world. Let’s split the history of velvet into different parts.

Origin

In Eastern Culture, Pile weave was really popular in ancient times. Experts believe that’s where the origin of fabulous velvet fabric. Historical evidence suggests that velvet fabric was produced about 6000 years ago in ancient Egypt.

The first trace of Velvet fabric was found in ancient China, around 400 BC. From that time to the Middle age, (14th-15th century) China was the prime producer and supplier of velvet fabric.

Middle Age

In the Middle Ages, weaving and fabric production reached its peak. That was because of the trade revolution.

The fabric spread around the world through the Silk Road. For obvious reasons, Europeans loved velvet.

At that time, Italy was the first country who figured out the way of making velvet fabric. They produced and supplied the fabric throughout Europe.

The source of velvet was increasing. Still, the fabric production was barely easy. So, it remained a fabric of the rich and royals.

The fabric was used for robes, palace decoration, luxury accessories, and attractive women’s dresses.

Modern Age

The Industrial Revolution led to the availability of different materials and smart machines. So, the production became quite easy. But velvet held its reputation of luxury, which is still kind of the same.

In the 1900s, the use of the fabric became more common. Different economic classes of people were able to afford it. At that time, velvet fabric was common in fashion, upholstery, and decoration.

Velvet fabric probably reached its peak of popularity in the 1970s. Pop stars and celebrities played a great role in that.

In the 1990s and after, velvet fabric became more staple fabric in the fashion world.

No matter how cheap and available the fabric becomes, it is always regarded as a noble heritage. And there is no sign that it will lose its popularity anytime soon or far.

How velvet fabric is made?

How Velvet is Made?

Velvet-making seems so complicated at first glance. But remember people many thousand years ago could make it.

There are many different weaves, and many different techniques to make it. The materials can vary, and so can the method.

But the principle is more or less the same. And luckily, it’s easy to understand. Let’s break it down to understand easily.

Materials

Silk is the signature material for velvet. Why not, like velvet, silk is another epitome of soft and smoothness. Velvet is the way of making the softest fabric. Silk is one of the softest materials. And combining them, can you imagine how otherworldly soft the fabric will be? ( For a matt color & extreme softness, cotton velvet is one of the best options too.)

Velvet works with any type of textile. But those are not as royal as silk velvet. That’s actually not a bad thing. Using polyester, linen, and other synthetic materials makes the fabric cost affordable.

Weaving

The weaving of velvet fabric is kind of like a double weave. Two fabrics are produced at once one over another leaving small gaps. The basic weaving can be Tabby, twill, or satin.

While weaving, warp, and weft interlace each other like normal fabric. But the pile makes all the difference. Some of the weft yarn alternate between the two fabrics. It creates a very frequent connection with each other.

When the weaving is completed, those two fabrics are separated by cutting from the middle.This is how velvet fabric is made with evenly distributed piles.

Finishing

The next step is to make sure all the piles are even and polished. Once the fabric seems perfect, dyeing, cutting, and quality checking take place.

types of velvet fabric

Types of Velvet Fabric

Types of velvet are so diverse that I can write a book about it. Velvet is so royal, even different solid colors of the same velvet have a very distinct feel.

Velvet can be divided upon materials, weaving, and even color. And they even have their individual features. How interesting, right?

Before jumping into actual types, let’s characterize it on materials.

Velvet Types Depending on Materials

Historically, silk is used most commonly to make velvet. Later, people tried different materials that worked perfectly. Here are different materials for velvet fabric –

  • Silk velvet

  • Cotton velvet

  • Linen velvet

  • Wool velvet

  • Polyester velvet

  • Mixed velvet or cotton blend

  • Other synthetic velvet.

Popular Velvet Types

Over the years people experimented a lot with the production of velvet. That gave birth to several unique types of velvet.

All those velvets have some unique characteristics and features. They all have different uses too. Let’s explore them in the points below.

Crushed Velvet Fabric

Velvet fabric reflects light so beautifully that no other fabric does. When the this fabric is even, it reflects smoothly.

But people took this effect to its limit. They made the fabric uneven by crushing it. The uneven parts reflected light more randomly, which creates a unique artistic effect. I hope you got the idea.

Crushed velvet is produced like regular velvet. Then crushed in a different process. Clothes, fashion fabric, and furniture textile are made with crushed velvet.

Ciselé Velvet Fabric

Cisele velvet is easy to understand. Rather than having piles all over the fabric, it contains some raised parts. The raised piles work as designs like embroidery.

Cisele velvet is really pretty. Silk is commonly used to make Ciselé velvet, but other ones are not rare.

Embossed Velvet Fabric

Embossed velvet has some raised designs made by the metal press. It adds extra texture and unique designs to the fabric. The designs are typically floral and or other geometric patterns.

Its production also starts like a regular velvet. Then, the fabric is inserted in a metal press with a designed mold. The pressing process leaves a permanent texture on the fabric.

The raised and pressed part of the embossed velvet creates a unique contrast. It’s very appealing to see, touch n feel!

Devore Velvet Fabric

Devore velvet’s pile color is partially faded. This reveals the color of the beneath. The fading process is commonly done with acid.

Cotton, silk, or linen are the common materials of devore velvet. It has many uses in apparel fabric and different accessories.

Lyons Velvet Fabric

Lyons velvet is dense and heavy. The name comes from the city where it was first produced, Leons, France. Leon velvet is mostly used for coats, jackets, and collars.

Panne Velvet Fabric

The name panne came from French origin. It means soft cloth. It has a different method of production.

Instead of weaving with piles, the fabric is created first. Then the piles are inserted with a method called panning.

Stretch Velvet Fabric

Stretch velvet is produced with different artificial stretch materials. The production process is the same as regular velvet. The stretch feature makes it suitable for trousers and similar clothes.

Velour 

Velour is a type of synthetic velvet. Instead of silk and other natural materials, polyester or nylon is used to produce it.

Today velour is one of the most used types of velvet. It’s cheap, durable, and comes with most of the velvety features.

Popular Color Variants of Velvet

People often ask, what is the original color of velvet? The answer is white. Most ancient velvet was white and brown.

Now you can find velvet in almost any color. As we mentioned earlier, the color of velvet plays a leading role in its appearance.

According to our research, a lot of people search for different colors of velvet.

But the internet does not have the complete answer people are looking for. So, we decided to contribute a bit here. Let’s explore different colors of velvet

Red Velvet Fabric

Red is the most aggressive color. But combined with velvets’ unique texture and softness, it creates a beautiful experience.

No surprise, red velvet is the most popular velvet color. Red attracts most & creates an unforgettable impression.

Black Velvet Fabric

There is a popular saying in fashion, black can’t go wrong. People took it too seriously. Black velvet comes with an elegant appearance. But it reduces the velvety look as the color black is less likely to reflect.

However, this feature is preferable to many.

Green Velvet Fabric

Green velvet fabric is eye soothing. It comes with a rich appearance that can suit better in women’s dresses, furniture, and accessories.

Blue Velvet Fabric

The reflection of velvet combines amazingly with blue. No matter what you make with it, it’s always going to attract. Blue velvet is also very intense and eye-catching, similar to red. But red is more aggressive.

Purple Velvet Fabric

Purple velvet comes with a complex feel. It suits more with fashionable clothes and accessories like bedding and furniture.

Pink Velvet Fabric

Pink velvet is very joyful. It will certainly help you to have a cheerful impression. Clothing and accessories are more common with pink velvet.

Gold Velvet Fabric

Golden velvet is not that common but works amazingly as a symbol of luxury and beauty.

Brown Velvet Fabric

Brown velvet fabric is neutral but aesthetically pleasing. With its neutral character, it suits best with furniture and neutral clothing.

Yellow Velvet Fabric

Yellow velvet is cheerful and can really work well with proper context.

The color of velvet, more depends on your taste and feel. I don’t recommend overthinking it. Every velvet is beautiful.

Water absorption : Characteristics of Velvet Fabric

Characteristics of Velvet Fabric

It’s time to explore more about the features and characteristics of velvet fabrics. Well, as different velvets features can often be slightly different. So, we will talk about the core features.

We also have a velvet sample in our hand. It is a pretty standard rib-weaved cotton velvet fabric. The experiment will surely help you get a better idea about the velvet fabric.

Appearance

Velvet fabric has a rich and royal look from afar. It has reflection points that change with movement.

This creates an eye-catching effect and aesthetic appeal. Some parts of the fabric glow, and other parts look a bit dark. It gives a unique contrast in the same color. How wonderful, right?

The more quality velvet you have, the more visual effect the fabric will have. What should we call all of that? Maybe the velvet effect will be fine.

Our velvet sample was a green one. It has ribs or even lines throughout the fabric. Which creates a moderate velvet effect.

Softness

Velvet softness is not like “soft” softness. It’s more soft with movement. It creates an unmatched sensation while touching. I’m kind of getting out of words to describe it.

Our velvet sample is soft and comes with common velvet qualities. However, as it is cotton velvet, the matt color gives a different level of luxury feel.

velvet threads

Yarn quality

The yarn quality can vary for velvet fabrics. We linked closely with a magnifying glass and observed good-quality cotton yarn and piles. The yarn quality is an important factor, as some concerns are linked with it.

Low-quality artificial velvet can cause allergies and similar problems. So make sure to get your velvet from reputed stores.

Breathability

Velvet is moderately breathable unless it’s very thick or made of twill weave. Most regular velvet will pass just enough air to keep you cool.

Our velvet sample did something similar in the breathability test. After holding the fabric in front of the full-speed table fan, I still felt some air from the other side.

Heat absorption

Velvet absorbs heat and retains heat for a long time. Maybe that’s the reason it works best for evening wear. However, the amount of heat depends on fabric construction & thickness.

To test this, we lit a lighter and held it close to the fabric for a few seconds. The fabric seems hotter than other regular cotton fabric.

Stretch

Natural velvet does not stretch. But there are stretch versions of velvet that contain elastane. Artificial velvet made of rayon and polyester fabric tends to stretch a bit.

We tried to pull our velvet. There was a bit of movement, but you can’t call it stretching.

Water Absorption

Velvet absorbs water very quickly. It can hold a lot more water than you might think. Velvet’s fluffiness contributes to the characteristics. Cotton velvet absorbs faster than silk fabric and other types of velvet. However, there are also waterproof versions of velvet used to decorate bathrooms.

To taste this trait, we sprinkle a few drops of water on the velvet. The fabric immediately absorbed each bit of water.

tranparency of velvet

Transparency

Naturally, velvet is non-transparent. It lets very little to no light pass. How much light will pass depends on the thickness and color of the velvet fabric.

Shrinkage

This fabric does not shrink if you take good care of it. We will share the care guide later in the article.

Durability

When it comes to the durability of a fabric, velvet stands out of all. It is durable, long-lasting.

If you take good care of your velvet clothes, it can last even one decade.

Color retention

Velvet fabric retains color better than most other fabrics. It stays bright and colorful, providing vibrant hues for long, long years.

Velvet and Sustainability

If we rank all the environment-friendly fabrics, natural velvet will stay all the way to the top. It is not just a durable luxury fabric, ideally made in an organic process.

There are many different versions of velvet. Most of them interact differently with nature. However, anything that lasts long, generally considered environment friendly.

It’s best to use organic fabric. if you care for mother nature. (we don’t really have another option)

Uses of velvet

Uses of Velvet

Let’s break down the uses of this awesome fabric.

For Upholstery

Velvet works well with the furniture as upholstery fabric. Sofa, pillows, and chairs are some of the common things made with this. Velvet upholstery fabric can stand out anywhere. But with little planning and context, it can create an astonishing effect.

Curtains

Do you need heavy curtains? Velvet curtains can be one of the top-tier drapery fabrics suitable for curtains. It looks elegant and lasts a really long time.

Soft Furnishing

Enjoy the sensation of this fabric. You can make soft furnishings like pillows, bedding, and other stuff you touch frequently.

Evening Wears and Dresses

It’s the most attractive attire you can make with velvet fabric. Traditionally, velvet dresses are a sign of elegance & luxury.

Bathrobes

Bathrobes are another classic item you can make from this fabric. It’s comfortable & cozy. This fabric can greatly enhance your beauty after a bath.

Accessories

Hats, handbags, shoes, and different ornaments are commonly made from velvet fabric. They can easily amplify your personality.

The advantages and disadvantages of Velvet Fabric

Let’s sort out the advantages and disadvantages of velvet fabric.

Advantages

  • Symbol of luxury and elegance

  • Looks astonishing

  • Feels great

  • Cozy and comfortable

  • Available in many vibrant colors

  • Durable

  • Versatile

Disadvantages

  • High maintenance fabric

  • The piles are prone to crashing, flatting.

  • Attract dust, very few have allergies

  • Not suitable for every season and weather.

Velvet vs Other Fabrics

Here are a few common comparison questions people ask on the internet.

Velour vs Velvet Fabric

Velour is a knit fabric. It has a natural stretch due to its knitting, while velvet is woven and non stretchy. Velour is not as thick as velvet fabric.

Crushed Velvet vs Velvet

Crushed velvet is literally crushed to get an uneven texture. The uneven texture causes unique shining effects.

And the funny thing is, if your velvet has already crashed, you will not have to worry about crashing! This is what I call a real smart solution.

Cotton Velvet vs Polyester Velvet

Cotton velvet is simply more lustrous than polyester. However, natural cotton ones are more susceptible to spill & staging.On the other hand, polyester stains can removed easily.

How to care Velvet fabric?

This is probably the most important part of the article. If you are thinking of buying a luxury velvet cloth, you must read this.

As we discussed, there are different types of velvet fabric. Each may have different care instructions. Such as, you may have heard, you can’t machine wash velvet. But for some synthetic velvet, even that is possible.

However, We will discuss the care guide about silk, cotton, or similar natural velvet fabrics.

Let’s hop into the discussion.

Avoid regular wash

Washing with water can lead to a long list of problems for natural velvet fabric. No matter whether you wash by hand or machine. Washing can crash, flatten, or fade the piles. For some artificial velvet, you can machine or hand-wash. But make sure to follow their instructions.

Dry clean

Professional dry-cleaning is the best for your velvet fabric. To clean it in your home, use a soft brush.

Don’t Iron

Ironing your velvet cloth is the last thing you should do. Although the fabric is thick, the piles are delicate. And each pile plays an important role in the appearance. Ironing can damage the pile.

Instead, you can steam your velvet with a steamer to fix the wrinkles. Your iron steam setting should also work just fine for the task. But you can not touch the fabric with iron.

Storing

Keep your velvet in a cool, moisture-free place. Moisture absorbing silicon packets can work great in a humid condition. Do not fold your velvet. If really necessary, do as few as you can.

This is a pro tip for velvet fabric. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. If you can not find it with the product, ask the seller. This will lead you to super-specific instructions.)

Velvet Fabric by the Yard

Looking for velvet fabric by the yard? They are widely available in the market. The price range of velvet fabric by the yard can be 10$ to 100$, or even more.Hope I don’t need to explain why!

Where can you buy Velvet?

Online retailers, exotic fabric stores, marketplaces, and offline fabric stores are the common places to find quality velvet fabric.

With a bit of scrolling, you can find great velvet fabrics in Amazon, Joann, and Mood Fabric. Need suggestions? There are some good brands. Check HOTGODEN and New Home Fabrics velvet products. You can order from Amazon & Etsy.

Best Brands for Velvet Fabric

Considering buying readymade velvet clothes and accessories? Here are the top velvet brands.

  • Spoonflower

  • Designers Guild

  • Dylon

  • Christy Dawn

  • blue of a kind

FAQ

Why can’t velvet get wet?

Water spills can leave water marks on velvet fabric. Use a soft paper towel,press and hold without rubbing. This will minimize the damage.

What is the most popular velvet color? 

It depends on the trend actually. Purple velvet is the most popular velvet color these days. In general, red velvets are the most exotic color.

What is vintage velvet?

Vintage velvet is simply the old-style velvet. They come with a distinct color and appearance.

Conclusion

Velvet is not just a fabric, it is finely integrated with our art, history, literature, and culture. Get your velvet fabric, and feel free to feel excited. Peace!

Shariful Alam

Shariful Alam

Shariful Alam Pavel, A fashion lover, passionate marketer. Love to share wisdom based on real life experience to enrich knowledge.
Founder of Muslin Dhaka, a brand, speaks the truth about royal muslin and fashion. Explore the digital fashion universe with organic cotton muslin and much more!

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