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Just a couple of years ago, to say “velvet” in decoration was synonymus of outdated decor.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.

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