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Sewing Silk Velvet

Silk Velvet is a beautiful fabric which comes in a variety of strong rich colours. The shine and texture of silk velvet makes it a luxurious fabric choice, but it can be very daunting to sew. There are some quirks to sewing silk velvet, but once you have got them under control then silk velvet doesn’t seem a nightmare choice.

Velvet is woven on a special loom which weaves two thicknesses together at the same time. These are then cut down the middle to create two fabric lengths with the raised pile surface.

Velvet can be made of various types or yarns. Such as linen, cotton, silk or polyester. Here at Beckford Silk we stock a silk/viscose velvet. This medium pile Velvet has a pure silk net with a viscose pile, it has beautiful drape and is ideal for dressmaking.

Choosing a Sewing Pattern for Velvet

When choosing a sewing pattern for silk velvet you need to consider garments with simple lines. As you are having to deal with bulkier seams because of the density of the velvet. Try to avoid patterns which deal with seams for tight finishing, such as darts and princess seams. Find patterns with loose, boxier cuts or simple shapes. That use gathers or pleats which can help with shaping the garment.

The Nap of Velvet

The Velvet pile does have a nap – or direction to the pile. To find out which way this goes your need to run your hand down the pile. One way will look shiny or lighter. The other will be darker, softer or seem richer in colour. It’s totally up to you which way the nap goes when you cut out your pattern pieces. But its important to remember the make sure the nap runs all the same way.

If you do cut your pattern pieces with the pile running in different directions, once your garment is sewn together if will be immediately noticeable. I know I’ve done it! – lots of unpicking later….

It’s not compulsory to have the nap running all the same way – maybe you would like to make it a feature of your garment? Having the nap running in different directions could add something interesting to your garment, especially if its panelled.

When you are buying your silk velvet do remember to add slightly extra to accommodate the laying pattern. So that there is enough fabric to lay the pattern so the nap is running the same way. Also you must cut velvet as a single layer. So again do look at your pattern choice carefully to make sure that you will have enough velvet before you start cutting out.

Cutting Silk Velvet

To cut out your pattern from the silk velvet you need to lay it on the wrong silk of the fabric. with the pile facing down. Use fine pins to keep the pattern in place. For any markings you need to transfer from the pattern, then do use tailor tacks. As these are easy to remove once you have no need for them.

Hand Baste Your Pieces

To keep your pieces from sliding around when sewing on the machine. Do hand baste your pieces together. Yes I know it will make the process longer!, but it will stop the fabric from creeping whilst you sew – it also means less unpicking of seams as it keeps everything in place.

Now to Machining!

Do use a walking foot, this is the best way to have maximum control over the slippery silk velvet. The walking foot will feed the fabric at the same rate. If you do still have problems with movement then using tissue paper between the layers of fabric and the feed dogs can help when sewing silk velvet.

Always use a fine needle on your machine and it’s totally fine to use man made sewing thread. Here we use Gutermann polyester for sewing silk velvet.

Silk Velvet Doesn’t like Irons!

You must never press down with an iron onto velvet, this will crush the pile which is irreversible. Turn your fabric facing down and cover with a towel or cloth. Use the steam from your iron by hovering the iron over the wrong side of the velvet. The best way for pressing out seams is to gently press with your fingers to help the seams open then use the steam to keep these open.

Hemming a Velvet Garment

Ideally you need to hang your silk velvet make for about a day before you start to sew the hem. It’s recommended that you overlock or zigzag stitch the hem before turning and then hand stitching in place. If you use tiny stitches they will vanishing the pile of the silk velvet. Giving a lovely finish to the your garment.

Silk Velvet is a perfect choice for your autumn/winter wardrobe. It’s also a lovely soft fabric for making cushions for the home. Here at Beckford Silk we have a variety of wonderful colours to choose from. Click Here to find out more about our silk velvet colours. www.beckfordsilk.co.uk

If you would like to learn about how our Coloured Silk Velvet is Dyed in-house – then do check out this BLOG PAGE.

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