What is Velvet and How it is Made? (part one)

Several people have asked how velvet is made and what is velvet so I thought I’d make a few posts to explain things in lay terms.  [click on photos to enlarge]

What is Velvet 2We talk of velvet being a pile fabric, meaning there are threads projecting from a ground or foundation fabric. There are three “effects” in the patterned velvet in the first photo. This is similar to what we saw being made. There are areas of what we normally think that velvet is: sort of furry tiny hairs. There are areas where there are tiny loops projecting from the foundation and there are areas where only the foundation cloth shows without any pile. Velvet that we normally see is all the furry kind of pile. This type in the photos is called “voided velvet” which means that there are areas where there is no pile. In the voided areas, the pile threads are woven into the foundation, usually so they are not visible on the surface.
What is Velvet 1Here you can see loops and furry velvet and the foundation. When velvet is woven, wires are woven into the cloth forming loops. The loops are cut with a razor blade sliding on top of the tiny wires. Sometimes the loops are not cut and remain as loops.

This photo shows What is Velvet 3cut and uncut pile. It is surprising how different the color looks in the cut and uncut areas. This is used a lot in the kind of weaving we saw. I’ll tell more about the wires and cutting in a later post. In this photo you can see that the pile comes up out of the foundation cloth.

This last photo shows part of a piece I bought. What interested me is that there was so much voided area and none of the dark magenta threads showed—they were visible on the wrong side but nearly completely hidden on the front of the fabric. This piece would be labeled voided velvet with all cut pile. I bought one repeat of the fabric it measures 24” wide and 26” high.
What is Velvet 5

In future posts I will tell how the velvet is made: the loops, the cut and uncut velvet and the voided areas. The looms we saw and weavers were amazing. It was wonderful to see the complicated looms and patterns that were being woven.

2 thoughts on “What is Velvet and How it is Made? (part one)”

  1. Thank u, I’ve been wondering how velvet was made historically & before industrialisation began. It is so sumptuous & looks so gorgeous I wondered what tools were used. And in an era when there were no seeing machines too. I love the internet for this reason, it doesn’t matter what random question I have I can find it on the web whereas before I had to order books from the library & wait months for it to arrive!
    Many thanks,
    Roseanne @~~>~~>~~> it’s a rose 🙂


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