Velvet is currently a popular fabric choice for home décor. Velvet comes in a range of weights and is woven from various fibers. Therefore, velvet can be used for draperies, bedding, pillows and upholstered furnishings. Despite its reputation as a luxury fabric, in today’s textile world there is no reason to shy away from using velvet in your home.
What makes velvet “velvety “ is the special loom upon which velvet is woven. A velvet loom weaves two thicknesses of the material at the same time. The two pieces are then cut apart creating the pile effect on each side and creating two bolts of fabric. If a fabric is not made this way, it is not velvet. Moreover, if a fabric is made this way, it is velvet—even if it does not look like the velvet you might be accustomed to seeing.
Before mechanized looms velvet was particularly expensive to make and thus often associated with nobility. Even today, a mill must be invested in producing velvet to acquire and maintain velvet looms. Furthermore, stored bolts of velvet must be suspended to maintain the pile over long periods of time awaiting sale and shipment. These added expenses to the velvet manufacturing process mean that even the least expensive velvets typically cost more than other woven fabrics.
Velvet may be woven from silk, linen, cotton, synthetic fibers, and from blends of natural and synthetic yarns, and woven in a wide range of fabric weights. Fabric weight—the weight of one yard of fabric—is determined by the density of the threads in one square inch of fabric. The fiber content and the fabric weight affect the “hand” (how a fabric feels and drapes) but also affect price and durability. Heavy weight velvet constructed of silk or linen yarns will be the most costly, but moderately priced velvet, constructed to withstand residential use, is readily available in the marketplace. Many residential upholstery and drapery weight velvets will start in the low to mid $30s per yard, if made of cotton, a synthetic, or a blend.
These residential velvets for upholstery often have a high abrasion resistance with 20-30 thousand double rubs or more. (Double rubs is a measure of abrasion resistance, which you can read about in a prior blog on this site.) Also, velvet fabrics can be treated to be stain resistant with products like Crypton™. (Crypton is a patented technology that involves coating the fabric to make it water and stain resistant.) With a Crypton-like treatment velvet can be as durable as any other high-performance woven fabric type.
With the help of modern textile science, velvet—soft, cozy, and luxurious—may be just the fabric you have been looking for to dress your home in style.