Handling Velvet

Discussion in 'Costuming and Props' started by Maleficant, Aug 1, 2003.

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  1. Maleficant Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 5
    I am about to start making my Royal Guard robes and I will be using a non-strech velvet. I have 2 questions about sewing with velvet, do I need to sew the raw edges once I have cut the pieces out and how can I iron out the seams and not crush the velvet.


    Any help would be greatly appreciated. :D
  2. Azeem TFN Staff, Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 12, 1999
    star 4
    Stubbzilla is going to be your best resource on this (velvet and royal guard). I'll make sure she responds this afternoon.
  3. Darth_Eagle Fanforce CR Singapore

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    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 2001
    star 4
    Better post what kind of velvet u are using too. ;)
  4. Maleficant Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 5
    Opps, the velvet is 65% acetate- 35% nylon. I know it's not top shelf, but it's the best I can afford so I am happy with it.
  5. Stubbzilla TFN Costumes Staff

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    Jan 30, 2001
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    You can only iron velvet with a special velvet ironing board, and even then it's not recommended. I do not press the seams. It's not really needed. You will NEED to serge (overlock) the seams. Velvet ravels badly. The cloaks will fall apart very soon if they are not finished. I don't even think a bound hem will keep the velvet from fraying, to tell you the truth. The stuff just comes apart like crazy.

    Acetate/nylon velvet will work well. You're right, it's not the most expensive velvet, but it's not cheap, either. It has some advantages over the most expensive velvet, too. It's not as hot. It doesn't wrinkle as badly as other types of velvet, and the wrinkles will usually fall out when you steam them. It also comes in pretty close to the correct color.

    ETA - You will need to use about 8 yards of velvet to get a good-looking cape. Any less and they do not get the proper fullness.
  6. Maleficant Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 5
    I have a Bernina sewing machine which has a overlock type stitch, would that stitch be good enough to prevent the velvet from fraying?
  7. FERDALUMP Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 12, 2002
    star 3
    ** I posted this on the Nightgown thread--but thought you might find some of it helpful here, too.

    In regards to the velvet board--which can be used to press velvet (but I agree is not always the best route) You can make a velvet board by covering something (board or something) with the same velvet you are pressing. The naps together will reduce the potential for crushing. Make sense?

    Velvet is a pesky little fabric. To say which one to use is kinda hard. There are cotton velvets which tend not to have that shiny look to the fibers, there are rayon and silk velvets which are a going to have a richer texture and sheen to them. Silk velvet has a nice drape to it, where some rayon ones are a little more full bodied. There are also velvets for home dec which has a stiffer feel to it and many times a shorter nap.

    Two great "name brands" for velvet is Fidelio which is a rayon acetate blend (which is great for stamp embossing). This is a beautiful grade of velvet and is availble in tons of colors including cross dyes. That fabric is around $20 a yard. Lucia is a small step below in grade and quality--but just a *tiny* step. This fabric cannot be embossed. It is very lovely and nice and comes in a lot of colors, too. It is around $17 yd.

    Then there is Panne velvet which is usually used for leotards and dance costumes. It is crushed. There are also stretch velvets that are flat. These are around $15 a yard.

    It is SO important that you cut all of your pieces with the velvet nap running in the same direction. If you are unsure you can feel down the fabric to see which direction the nap runs. If the nap runs in different directions on different pieces the fabric will look like 2 different colors- due to how the light hits the nap.

    Also--if you press your velvet it will crush --so to "press" open your seams Lay your fabric on a seam roll with the wrong side up. Finger press the seam open and holding your iron a few inches away from your fabric let the steam "press" your seam open.

    Many times velvet says "Dry Clean Only"--which is often true. However you can "pre-treat" your velvet in the manner you will treat it after it is a garment. Meaning--you can wash it first (or dye it or whatever) Once you have washed it the first time you can always wash it the same way. I just machine washed and dyed silk velvet and it came out just beautifully.

    ***Important tip** Once you have bought your velvet at the store --make sure you hang it in the sammer manner it is stocked at the store in your closet. Rig up a hanger with safety pins or clothes pins to keep the fabric hanging neatly. If you leave it folded in a bag or on a table the folds with CRUSH into the fabric and you will not be able to get them out. You don't want yards of velvet ruined so take the few minutes to hand it up correctly. This is true with your un sewn pieces as well. Do not fold up or bunch.

    Sorry for the length. Hope this helps.
    ~Ferd :)
  8. Stubbzilla TFN Costumes Staff

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    Jan 30, 2001
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    True on the care of velvet. We do know which types of velvet to use for the guard, though. I'm not revealing my sources, either. :)

    My sewing machine does a "mock-overlock" type of stitch, too. It's better than nothing, but in my experience, it doesn't hold up. Sometimes, depending on the fabric, it can make the fraying worse. If you do decide to only use a mock-overlock, double stitch the regular seam line so it's sort of like an extra safe safety-lock. Kind of. It will at least give some extra time if the fabric does start to fray, so you can apply some fray-stop to help it out. Or, you could take the cloaks to a tailor and have them serge most of the hems, either before you sew the pieces together or afterwards. I don't know how much it would be.
  9. Maleficant Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 5
    Hmmm, I have read what everyone has said and here is my plan of attack:

    What is I use the mock overlock on my machine and double stitch that, on the edges and then apply something like fray stop before I join the pieces together.

    Then I would double stitch the seams when joining the pieces.


    Does that sound like it could work?
  10. Stubbzilla TFN Costumes Staff

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    Jan 30, 2001
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    You will probably be ok just doing the mock overlock and then sewing the seams twice with a straight stitch.

    My sewing machine does a mock-overlock, and I used it a few times for some canvas slipcovers (before I got a serger)....I am pretty disappointed with how they still raveled pretty badly.
  11. Maleficant Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 5
    I understand, I am planning to get a serger after christmas, but that doesn't get my costume done for Dragon Con! [face_laugh]

    Everyone, thanks for your help.


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