This is an ancient technique that was used to create silk and linen cloth in Egypt, China and the Mediterranean region since the early middle ages. By the 12th C, Italian towns ( Venice, Florence, Genoa in particular ) were gaining what was to become an unsurpassed reputation for beautiful, elaborate, innovative and high quality silk velvet production, which became a hallmark of Renaissance Europe luxury textiles.
* A fabric with a looped pile cut no more than 3mm ( 1/8″ ) long, velvet was originally made of 100% silk cloth, though it is now also woven from cotton, linen, viscose and other man-made fibres.
* Cut pile textiles are made back to back – the weaving involves inserting rods, wires or needles between an extra set of warp yarns: this means two cloths are woven back to back with loops standing out from the ground. Once the rods are removed, the cloths are cut apart: this creates velvet’s characteristic pile. The depth of the pile is determined by the distance between the two sets of warps.
* The nap is the direction of the pile and it always lies in one direction – downwards. , The direction of the pile, or the nap, is a serious consideration in both the appearance and the working of the cloth. Whilst velvet can be used with the pile in any direction, there are technical and visual considerations to bear in mind. When the pile runs upwards the colour may appear to be richer than when the pile runs down. However, this way around it attracts dust and is difficult to manage. But drape the cloth and see how you prefer it to look for your situation. Good velvet is dense , with an even face and feels very heavy in comparison to the size of the piece you’re holding
* Stitching velvet requires special technique and experience, the fabrics will always want to work against each other – to walk . Pressing must be done on a special pin board and dry cleaning is almost always essential.
* Velvet can be woven in yarns of one colour, with more than one coloured warp or with added metal threads, plainly or with motifs; designs can also be outlined by sculpting – cutting the pile at different heights.
* A versatile fabric – both elegant and hardwearing, velvet remains an interior furnishing classic that is available in a every quality, weight and colour. With its unique texture, motifs appear deep and catch the light like no other fabric.
Cotton velvet: a plain weave, the best quality is very dense and the pile almost impossible to flatten
Silk velvet: fine and lustrous, soft, lightweight and expensive.
Embossed velvet: it has had a pattern imprinted in the pile through the gauffrage technique.
Crushed velvet : where the pile has either been crushed by weight or twisted when wet to create a textured surface finish
Panne velvet: the pile has been crushed in one direction only, meaning the nap lies across the width
Hammered velvet: a dappled, lightly crushed finish created by hammering the pile.
Devore velvet: a patterned velvet achieved by applying a caustic soda solution to the nap, which burns away certain areas to reveal the motif. The burnt areasbecome transparent, but the ground remains intact, being made of a different fibre, unaffected by the caustic.
Genoa velvet: is gauffraged
Velvets work surprisingly well together and mostly suit lovely sumptuous winter rooms in soft olives and mulberries, aqua blues, soft golds and greens, teddy bear and chocolate brown, forest greens- a soft tones of natural earth colours.