What is Velvet Fabric? Best Guide to 11 Types of Velvet Fabric

Do you know what is velvet and what is velvet made of? Velvet, a kind of soft, smooth and shiny knitted fabric made up of either synthetic or natural fiber meterials, is epitomizing luxury and used for clothing, upholstery and other textile applications.

Different colors velvet

What is velvet?

Velvet is a luxury, expensive fabric that is characterized by its incomparable soft, shiny appearance and smooth nap. The weave process of velvet is complicated that velvet is woven by a special loom, two thicknesses of the material are woven meanwhile and then they are cut apart to create the pile effect, giving it a super soft and luxurious feel.

With the development of cheap raw materials and industrialized production, velvet is no longer as expensive as ever. There are several different types of velvet such as silk velvet fabric and cotton velvet fabric. However, velvet’s delicate touch, smooth nap and shiny but elegant appearance are still unmatched by other fabrics, which makes it the ideal choice for fashion designers of luxurious fabrics.

There are some advantages and disadvantages of velvet fabric:

The velvet is soft to the touch, comfortable to wear, and beautiful.
Rich in elasticity, no lint, not easy to fade.
Good water absorption, three times that of cotton products, and no irritation to the skin.
It takes time to take care of the velvet, and it is easy to damage the natural direction of the nap, which is difficult to repair.
Easy to generate static electricity.
Due to the characteristics of velvet, the surface of velvet is composed of dense small piles. Generally, they will be washed out during the first few washings.

History of velvet

At present, velvet is believed to have two independent origins. One is the ancient Egyptian “mukhmul”, where produced velvet by silk and hemp in 2000 BC but quite different from the definition of modern velvet. The other is China, people there called it the “Han mirror clothing” from 400 BC to 23 AD, which was similar to the modern velvet.

Velvet in Europe
Velvet has a long history of development. This textile technology came into being in Egypt in 2000 BC. In the 10th century, the production of velvet reached a certain scale in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Some skilled weavers gradually moved to the west, which made Italy and Spain become the production centers of velvet. In 1278, the tailor of the King of England bought a bed of velvet fabric in Paris at a high price, which marked the popularity of the velvet fabric. Because velvet fabrics were extremely expensive that only the royal and noble classes can afford the luxury textile applications such as velvet bedding, velvet curtains and velvet clothing. This situation was not broken until the Industrial Revolution.

Velvet in Asia
Velvet, also known as “zhangrong”, is one of the traditional fabrics of China. The origin of velvet was “Mirror Clothing” (“镜衣”) which first appeared in the Han Dynasty. It was mass-produced in the Ming Dynasty and exported to Japan, Portugal, Netherlands, Singapore and other countries.

Where is velvet fabric produced?

As the founder of the famous Silk Road, China is the largest producer and exporter of textiles. After years of development, China’s textile industry has the world’s most complete industrial chain and the highest level of processing facilities. The velvets produced in China are of high quality and affordable, which are sold well in the world. India, Vietnam, Italy and Bengal  also produce velvet, but the output of them is lower than China.

China textile industry city - Puning
China textile industry city - Puning

What is velvet made of and how is velvet made?

Velvet is woven on a unique loom, which spins two layers of fabric simultaneously. Then people separate these two layers and wind them up into rolls.

The earliest velvet fabric was made from silk, which made it incredibly expensive and only available by the royal and aristocrat classes. Today, velvet is usually made from synthetic and natural fibers.

1. Silk velvet fabric is the earliest velvet which is the most expensive but most soft and luxurious. However, pure silk velvet is rare today.
2. Cotton velvet fabric is soft and durable but plainer than silk velvet and other velvets with its poor colors.
3. Viscose velvet fabric meets the physiological requirements of human skin, which is silky, breathable and colorful. To some extent, viscose velvet is more similar to silk velvet.
4. Nylon velvet fabric is cheap and durable with a smooth appearance, which is easier to take care of than silk velvet.
5. Polyester velvet fabric is elastic and durable.
6. Microfiber velvet fabric is lighter than other varieties of velvet with good anti-wrinkle ability. It is highly elastic that can highlight the contours of the human body.

11 types of velvet fabric

Velvet can be divided into two types: velvet with pattern and velvet without a pattern.

1. Plain velvet is usually made of cotton or synthetic fibers, which makes it is heavy without elasticity and shine.

2. Chiffon velvet, also called transparent velvet, is a lightweight and transparent fabric with a soft feel, which pursued by fashionable women as the fabric of formal garments and eveningwear.

3. Crumpled velvet, just as the name suggests, is a pure velvet fabric that has been twisted and crimped or pressed in different directions by machines when wet. Its dappled appearance is patterned and shiny, and crumpled velvet is a common fabric in fashion design.

4. Panne velvet is smooth and shiny and is produced by high-pressure flattening from ordinary velvet. Panne velvet has a higher density of fluff than other normal velvets.

5. Embossed velvet is a fabric with different patterns, which is made via a heat stamp.

6. Hammered velvet is a fabric with a lustrous appearance.

7. Pile-on-pile velvet, a lustrous velvet with a pattern created by varying lengths of piles, is used for upholstery commonly.

8. Lyons velvet is a dense fabric because of its high-level weaving density, which makes it stiff and heavy but durable.

9. Utrecht velvet is an out-of-style fabric that rarely seen on the market today.

10. Ciselé velvet is a patterned velvet that the pile uses cut and uncut loops to create a pattern.

11. Ring velvet, known as wedding ring velvet, is an especially velvet such as chiffon velvet, which is incredibly fine and can be drawn through a wedding ring.

How to judge the quality of velvet?

However, why some people feel cheap when wearing velvet clothing? The material makes velvet fashionable and luxurious! The easiest way to judge the quality of velvet material is to judge by the weaving density of the fabric.

High-quality velvet fabrics are made in a high-level weaving density to ensure the weight and texture of the fabric. The fluff of velvet fabric is soft to the touch and glossy in appearance.

Low-quality velvet fabrics on the market are made in a low-level weaving density but a high proportion of chemical fibers, resulting in rough touch and stiff fluff.

How to take care of velvet?

If the velvet fabric is dirty, you must look at the label on the textile first, there are part of the velvets can be washed. For non-washable velvet fabrics, you can moisten a clean towel with warm water and scrub it up and down gently until the stain is no longer visible, and then use a tissue to absorb the water from the scrubbing area. For stubborn and large stains, it is recommended to ask the dry-cleaning store for help.

1. Try to reduce friction and pull as much as possible when wearing velvet clothing. If it is dirty, wash it frequently to keep the fabric clean.

2. When storing, it should be washed, dried, ironed, and finally stacked neatly.

3. Velvet is a good water-absorbing material that, in the collection, you must try to prevent it from high temperatures, high humidity or dirty environment.

4. Clothing made of velvet fabric is suitable for washing, but not suitable for dry cleaning.

5. Do not iron the velvet clothing directly with an iron (unless there is a special ironing machine for velvet). The surface of the velvet will be difficult to stand after being ironed by heat, which damages the texture of the entire clothing. It is recommended to use a steam iron to spray steam at a few centimeters on the velvet clothing and gently flatten the clothing at the same time by hand. Pay attention to the skills during ironing. Less push and pull will make the velvet clothing stretch and align naturally. The temperature can be controlled in the range of 120 to 140 degrees when ironing.

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