5 basic tips to work with velvet (and cousins!)

Velvet. The king of fabrics. Really, velvet is from centuries one of the materials connected to royalty and richness with its soft pile and incredible texture. But - for us dressmakers - how velvet can turn into a nightmare our sewing project? Many times, trust me. It happens to experienced seamstresses too so no worries! In this little guide I'll explain you some tips to work with velvet (and cousins - like crushed or stretch velvet) and 
If you're here, I'm sure you probably faced the problems related to velvet so let's get started.

Crushed/panné velvet

Silk velvet

1. Stay calm.
Sewing with velvet can be hard but it's not impossible. First of all, you must keep in mind you're working with an expensive fabric (as silk) so think twice before cutting. Do all the mock ups you need, take all your time but stay calm. Hurry can be your worst enemy. If you want to serge your velvet make a try on some scraps before proceeding: not every velvet type is serger-friendly. 

2. Forget your iron
Don't miss this step! Your iron can ruin your fabric irremediably. The heat can damage and burn the pile of velvet so use your iron always on the wrong side on the fabric, avoiding to touch it; some steam may be used but be careful to don't touch the pile.

3. Clean your workspace
Velvet doesn't fray easily but it leaves lot of small, fluffy balls. Breathing these balls can be a problem for your health so always keep your vacuum near and clean your working space often. Wearing a mask can be useful too. 

4. Pay attention to nap/pile
This is the  most important step, in my opinion. A garment sewn with two different naps scream homemade (remember: your creations must look handmade and not homemade, these are two different things) but  this mistake can be easily avoided paying a little of attention. The nap is the direction of the pile, which can run up or down; usually, the nap running down gives to the garment a darker, richer tone. There's not a general rule (up or down is the same) but the important is to cut the pieces in the same direction: this may require extra yardage so check out the instructions on your pattern envelope.

5. Hem by hand when possible
Velvet may stretch a little, especially on edges, and it can roll on the inside. This counts especially for crushed and stretch velvet. Hemming your garments by hand is a good solution to control stretching: bias tape could work good for this purpose, using a hemming stitch on the inside. Never leave your hems raw! 

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