Friday, October 18, 2013

V is for Velvet

Thank you for your lovely comments on my last post about my most recent 1940 McCall make!

Today, I'm focusing on one of my favourite fabrics, Velvet.  Velvet is so lush and comes in different weights and textures, and is such a perfect fabric for special winter occasions!  It is, however, a bit sensitive to treatment, especially ironing.  Here's what my vintage 1950s sewing book says about ironing velvet and velveteen:


I don't actually have a velvet press board and I use other napped fabric (often pieces of the same velvet I am pressing) instead.  This works well on cotton velvet but may not work on other types of velvet like silk velvet, which I imagine would be more sensitive.  I've never actually sewn with silk velvet, but I really want to give it a try--maybe a nice holiday dress?

Here's a photo from my 1940s singer sewing book about how to steam velvet seams.  I use this method a lot when working with velvet:


Another close-up of a velvet pressing board:




So far, I've made two velvet dresses.  Both of the dresses were made from velvet curtain fabric that I had found in charity shops.  The first one I made from a 1939 McCall pattern:


I love the dress but the velvet is quite thick and warm--perfect for winter.

The other dress I made from a 1950s Butterick pattern:


The cotton velvet has a nice weight for the full skirt and this velvet dress gets much more wear because of the holiday/festive colour!

I have two patterns that would be fabulous in velvet, especially silk velvet:


The first one is a 1940 McCall pattern and the second is from the early 1930s.

I'm curious, have you ever sewn with silk velvet?  Do you use a velvet pressing board?

18 comments:

  1. I do not own a needle board, either. I find that a bath towel with deep nap works well as a substitute -- not my own idea, but one suggested by scores of sewing authorities throughout the ages. So long as you do not press the seams, but merely use your steamer or steam iron to direct hot water vapor at the garment, you can achieve fairly sharp results. Of course, as with anything in life that is fuzzy, the edges will always be a little more fuzzy than sharp.

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  2. So pretty! I've never worked with silk velvet before but I bet it's just scrumptious to wear!

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  3. great post, thanks. i was recently gifted a 2m piece of black velvet & i have no idea what to do with it, let alone how to handle it. i will have to research this velvet stitching quite a bit before i attempt anything.

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  4. I've never sewn velvet, but coincidentally, I recently took out my grandmother's velvet wedding dress from - I believe - the mid to late '30s. It is a deep blue, incredibly soft silk or rayon velvet, and quite tiny. I think it must be silk because it still looks and feels fresh. My grandmother had her own sewing business at one time, and so I'm fairly certain that she made the dress herself.


    I was looking at a velvet needle board awhile ago, but they are so expensive here in the U.S. - about $100 for a small one. I guess I'll be using the steam and towel method on any possible velvet projects!

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  5. I've just today found your blog (I saw a pic and thought 'oooh the meadows' (I used to live in Edinburgh) and wow I love it!! I fully intend to trawl through all your posts for tips :)

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  6. I love your red/wine dress. It's so pretty. I've never sewn with silk velvet, but I had have piece in my favorite collection. Perhaps I'll sew it up this eyar. I have, however, used a velvet pressing board. They are crazy expensive that I never thought I would own one. Luckily, I spotted one in a vintage sewing lot on Ebay. I managed to get the entire lot for about $20. It had lots of vintage supplies - tape measures, marking wheels, zippers... and that vintage velvet pressing kit still in its box. I used it with corduroy and just love it. I also love that vintage smell that it gives off when the steam hits it. Lucky for me, the seller never mentioned the board in their listing, otherwise I still wouldn't have one and would stilll be using a towel.

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  7. We had a velvet pressing board at school, but it didn't really work with short pile cotton velvet. It looked like it just left holes in it.

    I've never sewn with silk velvet, but I've sewn with rayon velvet which I believe to be quite similar. It was terrible, I never want to sew with it again :D I love the look and feel of it though, but I guess it would be best to sew by hand or baste it before machine sewing. Otherwise the seams just slip and wrinkle.

    I love your velvet dresses though! The last pattern would be soo gorgeous in silk velvet. I do hope you have better experiences with it than I do :)

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  8. Good to know about rayon velvet :-) I bet silk velvet would require a lot of hand basting as well!!

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  9. Wow! Fabulous that you were able to snag a velvet pressing board for super cheap! I love it when that happens!! I think it would be nice to have a vintage one!!

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  10. Awww! Thank you!! Edinburgh is just fantastic--I try to take as many pictures outside as possible...though now it's a bit rainy :-)

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  11. Wow. I love the thought of a blue velvet wedding dress....I bet it is absolutely stunning! That is so great that you have your grandmother's dress..what a treasure!!

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  12. I love the feel of velvet! Cotton velvet is pretty easy to handle (except for the ironing/pressing)...but I think other types of velvet are a different matter!! Good luck!

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  13. I've heard of a similar trick but using pieces of the velvet to press the nap...I tend to do that unless i have a nice towel handy! Keeping my eye out for a vintage velvet pressing board though ;-)

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  14. Thanks Stephanie!! I bet silk velvet feels absolutely luxurious!!

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  15. I should have prewarned you that I might comment on some of your older posts, not sure if you'll get notified but I've gone right back to the beginning :) Just enjoying your first 'me.made.May' x

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  16. And you've been to my home town Elgin!!!!

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  17. I love velvet too. I found this newspaper article about making a velvet pressing surface. One day I'll get around to making myself one. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=861&dat=19791130&id=nZlHAAAAIBAJ&sjid=R38MAAAAIBAJ&pg=6193,7165139

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  18. I've got some gorgeous green cotton velvet to make a dress. Have you any advice on pre-washing it? I'm guessing that putting it in the washing machine will leave marks on the pile. Is that right?

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I read each and every comment--thank you so much!

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