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Decorating with velvet fabric (I)

Velvet is a versatile option when decorating because it works equally well in any style: classic, contemporary, retro, romantic, boho… Just use it sparingly, because if you keep it under control velvet will give a luxurious touch to your home, but if you exceed it will produce a “boudoir effect”. Here are the keys to decorating with velvet fabric:

The exact dose of velvet is always a success. In this living room decorated by Melián Randolph velvet has been used in cushions and some upholstery. Sofas by Blasco & Blasco.

Tough guy. The complex velvet weaving process makes it more durable and resistant than many other fabrics. If you take good care of it, velvet can last for generations. Always keep in mind this fabric is produced from very different fibers, as we told in an earlier post, so you can find velvet in different qualities and prices.

Generally, the shorter and denser the pile is, the more resilient the fabric will be. Deeper pile velvet looks more luxurious but is more difficult to care for.

Classic, boho, contemporary … Velvet is an extremely versatile fabric. Via: Pampa Australia

Like all upholstery fabrics, velvet is tested to determine how much abrasion it supports before showing wear or color loss. In the case of velvet fabric is recommended a value from 40.000 Martindale cycles. Depending on the use, you can choose a thinner velvet (for example, for cushions or curtains) or more resistant (in the case of upholstery for sofas or armchairs).

When you buy furniture or complements in velvet, or you want to reupholster with this fabric, check the composition and the martindale indicated by the manufacturer. Find out what type is the most advisable for the use you want to give it, its pros and cons. Remember that there are many types of velvet fabric.

Velvet is a very resistant fabric but at the same time is supple, perfect for upholstering sinuous furniture.

Patina. Before deciding on velvet it is necessary to know it well. As it is easily marked, it is not recommended for those who suffer from short-term imperfections. If you expect the velvet to remain unchanged like the first day, you’d better choose another fabric. When you sit or lean something on velvet furniture, the pile will often ruffle. Depending on the type of velvet, some more than others. These bruises can mostly be steamed out. But at the end these bruises will create a patina that should be understood as part of the natural life of velvet.

 

The Essential Guide to Velvet

Just a couple of years ago, to say “velvet” in decoration was synonymus of outdated decor. But the sum of the cocooning trends and the love for retro style have made velvet a new object of desire.

Velvet has a bit of bad reputation (“it´s expensive”, “delicate”, “complicated”…), which is totally unfair. In this first post dedicated to velvet, we are going to know it better.

A blue velvet sofa, like this one by Blasco & Blasco with Keystone velvet, becomes the center of attention of any living room.

What is: It may be easier to define velvet by what it is not. Velvet is not a fiber, neither natural nor synthetic. The term refers to the result of a complex weaving process to obtain a soft fabric, with short and thick pile, with a uniform distribution of the loops. To create it is used a special loom that weaves two pieces at the time. Although the technique has been made cheaper with industrial looms, the process is still very complex.

Types. Velvet can be made with natural fibers, such as cotton, wool, linen, silk or mohair, with synthetic fibers, such as polyester, rayon or viscose, or mixing natural and synthetic fibers.

  • 100% silk velvet has a super luxurious touch. Today it is very rare and costs more than 400 euros per yard.
  • Cotton velvet looks less glossy, but is soft, affordable and sturdy. In addition, it dyes very well, so it is available in a variety of wonderful colors.
  • Linen velvet, with a characteristic striped texture, is the most masculine and has good resistance to the marks of use. Nowadays it is practically impossible to find linen velvet.
  • Synthetic and mixed velvets imitate perfectly the sheen of silk velvet and are competitively priced.

Color samples of Blasco & Blasco velvet Retiro II, mix of viscose and cotton.

Look. The velvet looks luxurious and shiny because the pile on its surface reflects the light at multiple angles. It is usually dyed in very vivid and dark colors that enhance its characteristic shine.

History. Without a clear origin, it seems that the ancient Egyptians made fabrics similar to velvet. From the East came to Italy around the thirteenth century. Florence and Venice were major producers. In the sixteenth century Flanders became the great exporter of European velvet. In Spain we find excellent velvet weavers from the seventeenth century, some of which continue working until today. Before the industrial revolution, velvet was an unattainable fabric, symbol of power, luxury and wealth. Today, in Europe is produced an exquisite velvet, designed mainly for Haute Couture.

Velvet is also used for bedding. This quilt from de Zara Home combines linen and velvet.

Decoration. In general, all types of velvet are good to upholster, make curtains, cushions or plaids, regardless of the fibres used for weaving the fabric. There is also velvet with anti-allergic, anti-bacteria, anti-fungus or anti-stain treatments, which do not affect its brightness or soft touch.

How to Prolong the Life of the Upholstery

In this post we have put together a series of tips to care an upholstered sofa and some tricks to keep it as the first day for a long time. To begin with, we have to do justice to the grandmothers who did not let eat in the living room, especially chocolate or cheese sandwiches. Some stains can be very difficult (or expensive) to remove from the upholstery.

Blasco & Blasco velvet sofa. Via: El Mueble

Vacuum: the sofa’s best friend

If you are one of those who lose the small brushes of the vacuum two days after buying it or those who recycle it with its accessories as new as the first day, you are damaging your sofa. Accumulated dust creates friction and gradually wears away the fibers. To prolong the life of your sofa and keeps it fresh for a long time, vacuum it weekly. The small brush of the vacuum cleaner serves to remove dust from the surface of the sofa, while the angle-tipped crevice tool reaches the most difficult areas where more dirt accumulates.

Remember to vacuum the sofa before applying it any specific cleaning treatment. If you do not remove dirt and dust before treatment, the upholstery may end up dirtier than it was.

Vacuum the sofa every week. With pets, use a special tool to remove hair. Via: Serendipity Fabrics

First-aid for spills

The best advice to prevent a stain is to act quickly, before it has time to stick to the fabric. When an accident occurs, do not panic, stay calm. The first thing to do is absorb the spilled substance. To do this, use a white cotton cloth, clean and dry. Do not rub! If you rub, the stain will become larger.

When the cloth has absorbed everything possible, you must act according to the upholstery. Keep in mind that each fabric needs different products or treatments. What works for one fabric can be disastrous for another. Always check the manufacturer’s care label. If you do not have it, be very prudent, there are fabrics that can only be dry cleaned by professionals, others admit water-based or solvent-based solutions.

Before applying a treatment in a visible area of ​​the upholstery, test it in a discrete part.  Fabrics can be damaged by improper cleaning. If your upholstery has received some anti-stain treatment, keep in mind that it will probably change the recommended method of cleaning.

Keep and respect the manufacturer’s care label. Via: Blasco & Blasco

Care of seat cushions and backrest

The best way to care for the seat and down back cushions is to rotate them from time to time, to evenly distribute wear. It is also important to take cushions outside once a month and beat them by hand to remove the dust from the fibers.

A common (and unsightly) problem is that color differences can appear between the cushion covers and the fixed parts of the upholstery. To prevent it and maintain a uniform tone throughout the sofa, if your fabric supports cleaning with specific upholstery products, every time you clean the covers also clean the fixed parts.

If the cushion covers can be removed and machine washed (remember: check the instructions label), turn them in reverse, wash in cold water and dry them in the shade to avoid fading. Always all them at once. If you have been shrunk a little by washing, iron the damp cloth in the direction you have shrunk by gently stretching.

In case the upholstery is dry clean only, take all covers at the same time, not only those that are soiled. This will ensure the color stays uniform in all of them.

Professional cleaning companies can treat the sofa and armchairs in full, so the tone will remain uniform on both cushions and fixed parts. A deep clean is highly recommended every twelve to eighteen months.

Once a year the upholstery requires a deep clean. Via: Chango & Co

When a great “catastrophe” occurs and a lot of liquid is spilled on the upholstery, professional cleaning is recommended. The stain in the filling may be three or four times bigger than you see on the surface.

Finally, even though it might sound odd coming from an Internet post, be very careful with home tricks that appear on Internet. Remember: always follow the manufacturer’s care label, act wisely and go to professionals when necessary.