Everything you need to know about velvet upholstery

Everything you need to know about velvet upholstery

Nothing matches the abundantly royal and luxurious look and feel of velvet fabric. Not only is it soft and sensuous to touch, but also easy on the eye. It’s also extremely versatile and can be used as upholstery fabric, curtain fabric or both.

Many people shy away from velvet upholstery fabric due the concerns about how fragile it might be.

Can pets go together with the delicate-looking nature of velvet?

Velvet is in fact a very durable fabric, especially when different fibres are blended together in its production. Velvet is available in different kinds such as silk velvet, cotton velvet, rayon/nylon velvet (among others).

What is upholstery anyway?

Upholstery is the materials which entail the fabric, padding, webbing and, springs. This make up the soft coverings of couches, chairs and other furniture.

Historical roots of velvet upholstery

The upholstery trend began in the middle ages and grew in popularity during the 13th, 18th and 19th centuries.

So where did velvet originate?

There are a couple of schools of thought as to where and when velvet originated, although it is widely agreed that it was somewhere in the Far East- most likely China, around the 13th century. After that, velvet made its way west along the Silk Road, becoming immensely popular during the Italian Renaissance.

As a matter of fact, the word ‘velvet’ comes from the Italian word velluto, meaning ‘shaggy’.

Prior to the advent of modern industrial looms, velvet was very expensive to produce, and as a result, it was only affordable to the rich and royal families.

Nobles especially were attracted by its ability to accept and blend well with richly hued dyes (and by the prestige that owning it gave them).

Martindale fabric test - photo by More Fabrics

Martindale fabric test - photo by More Fabrics

How is velvet made?

Velvet requires plenty of yarn and takes a couple of stages to produce.

To produce velvet, yarn is first woven together on a loom between two layers of backing. The resulting fabric is then split in the middle, thus, creating two similar pieces, each with the upraised pile that provides its soft, raised texture.

The most amazing thing about velvet is that it can be woven from any type of yarn, be it cotton, linen, wool and synthetic fibers. In the past, it was only woven from silk, but we’ve branched out since then.

How velvet is built to last

Due to its delicate appearance, most people presume that velvet is a high-maintenance fabric. Truth is, velvet is not all that delicate, and if properly taken care of, can last for decades.

When you sit on a piece made of velvet, the pile often ruffles up, or gets a bruised appearance. If you love your velvet silk and smooth: don’t worry! The pile returns back to its normal state after a while, and you can also smooth it out by steaming it gently.

However, some heavier marks will become permanent and you will have no choice but to embrace them.

Just like leather, velvet gets better with age.

How easy is it to clean velvet?

Cleaning velvet upholstery fabric is not rocket science. The easiest way to maintain your velvet fabric is to incorporate it into your regular cleaning routine.

In case of any spillage, all you need to do is dab the liquid gently over the stain with a damp towel. This should be done when the stain is still wet as the stain becomes difficult to clean once it dries out.

Silk and rayon velvets are quite popular for their classy, shimmering appearance. However, they are also the most prone to pile distortion. Therefore, any water-based stain or cleaning agent is likely to cause permanent pile changes on velvet made from these fibres.

To avoid pile distortion on velvet upholstery or drapery fabrics, we recommend that you lightly blot up spills immediately.

Avoid rubbing as it worsens the situation.

In case of any dried up stains, brush gently using a toothbrush or velvet brush, then vacuum thoroughly.

Velvet upholstery has the ability to bring to life dull furniture and change the entire look of the room. It adds a soft luxurious touch, warmth and sophistication, resulting in an easy, polished look.

What is the best type of velvet for upholstery?

If you intend to buy velvet fabric for upholstery purposes, it is imperative that you ensure that the velvet you are considering is rated for upholstery. 

One clue is to look at the durability rating, often shown as ‘double rubs’. Look for something rated 15,000 and above if you intend to have a fabric that will not show wear after a decade of use. Fabrics in our ranges have all undergone the Martindale and Wyzenbeek tests, meaning that they have a durability rating of 100,000 and 120,000 respectively.

The next thing you should think about is the fibre you prefer. Cotton or cotton blend offers a non-sweaty feel, but is more prone to staining. Polyester velvet on the other hand is very soft, highly durable and stain resistant. Its features make it an easy to clean fabric as well as a kid-friendly velvet upholstery fabric as it’s both soft and stain resistant.

Lightweight microfibre velvet, (often nylon) has excellent durability, which makes it a pet-friendly upholstery.  It also has a soft hand, but has the warmer feel of polyester. However, that should not deter you from opting for it if you love having furry friends around.

Silk velvet comes, you guessed it, from silk fibre and the resulting fabric is soft, drapes quite well and has a sensuous lustre to it.

Velvet is trending (and always has been)

Velvet (especially in a dark green colourway) can be found everywhere nowadays in restaurants, salons, homes, churches and offices; anywhere there’s a place to sit.

Velvet creates a lush, glamorous feel, no matter how small your space is. If you are looking for an upholstery fabric that not only has a contemporary look, but also a glamorous and elegant yet warm feel, then velvet for upholstery is the way to go.

Photo by More Fabrics

Photo by More Fabrics

The complete beginner's guide to cleaning upholstery fabric

The complete beginner's guide to cleaning upholstery fabric

We painted upholstery fabric and this is what we learned

We painted upholstery fabric and this is what we learned