September 18, 2017

Velvet: Production and care

WHAT IS VELVET AND HOW IS IT MADE? Velvet is a woven pile fabric whose pile is less than 3 mm high. Velvet can be made from all sorts of natural and synthetic fibres. Depending on the material used to make it, its density and its pile length, velvet can be very fine, soft and flowing or tougher and firmer.

Velvet is characterised by a pile consisting of vertical fibres. This makes the fabric good at absorbing sound and light. The pile is made up of a system of threads that are tied into the warp and weft backing and cut in such a way that they run vertically to this ground fabric. Depending on the system of threads used to make the pile, a distinction is made between weft velvet (velveteen) and warp velvet. The pile on warp velvet (also known as real velvet, velour or epinglé) is created by an additional warp system. In this case, the pile warp is looped over fine metal wires during weaving and these loops are subsequently cut (wire velvet). Alternatively, two lengths of cloth are woven face to face on a loom and the pile threads run back and forth between the two layers. A knife cuts through the middle during weaving to separate the two layers of fabric. The distance between the two layers determines the height of the pile. Known as the face-to-face method, this is the technique most commonly used in the industry. Examples of fabrics from our velvet collection which are made using this technique include ALLEGRO, APOLLODOR, VISCONTE II, VERNISSAGE and VENTURA. Meanwhile, our smart striped VELVET PIXEL is an example of wire velvet.

Both warp and weft velvets have either V, W or double-W tufts, which are explained by the diagram below. In the trade, weft velvet is often known as velveteen while warp velvet is referred to as velour. Because of the pile, velvet often runs in a certain direction, meaning that the fabric looks and feels different depending on whether is it used with or against the grain. The direction of the grain should therefore be taken into account when using velvet.

HOW TO TREAT VELVET: Always roll velvet with the pile facing inwards and in the direction of the grain. Velvet should not be stored flat. In shops, it is wrapped on hanging rolls or frames. Velvet can also be folded edge to edge and stored hanging up, e.g. on a clothes hanger. Some velvet fabrics have a vertical pile while others have a pile that runs in a certain direction, known as the grain. The recommendations for using velvet with a grain always relate to the direction of the pile or the grain. To work out the direction of the pile: Run your hand back and forth across the velvet’s pile. The direction which feels softer indicates the direction of the pile, i.e. the grain.

CARING FOR VELVET: Most of our velvet fabrics have to be dry-cleaned. A small number of specially labelled products can be machine-washed on a gentle cycle at 30 degrees. Be very careful if you use a tumble dryer. It is better to allow the curtain to air-dry naturally, without creasing it if possible.

CARING FOR UPHOLSTERED FURNITURE: - Regular care - Dust and loose dirt should be removed from velvet regularly by vacuuming it using a special upholstery nozzle (soft bristles). The upholstery nozzle must not have a ridge or sharp edges, as these could damage the fabric. Please also brush your velvet furniture regularly using a soft brush (such as a clothes brush), going with the grain. If necessary, you can also wipe your furniture in the direction of the grain with a damp chamois (light pressure) or use mild cleaning foam for a deeper clean. (Please test it first!)

- Deep cleaning - Deep cleaning should only be performed by an expert upholstery cleaner. Depending on how much wear the furniture is subject to and the colour of the velvet, we recommend professional deep cleaning every four to five years.

- Stain removal - You should hire a specialist to remove stains. If you want to try to remove the stain yourself first, proceed as follows:

- Testing cleaning products - Cleaning products must be tested first to ensure they are suitable. Make sure you choose a pH-neutral product. Acidic products damage cotton and cellulose fabrics, while alkali products are not suitable for wool. We recommend using special upholstery cleaning products to remove stains and clean furniture effectively. Whatever product you use, it must be rinsed off thoroughly as both special cleaning products and soaps or neutral cleaning agents leave residues behind which can cause rapid resoiling. You can test cleaning products’ residues by diluting them according to the instructions, putting them in simple bowls and leaving them to dry. If the residue is sticky, the product is not suitable. If the residue is flaky, it will be easy to vacuum off.

- Important - Remove dust first, then test the colour fastness and changes to the surface of the upholstery fabric on an inconspicuous area by rubbing it with a clean, soft, white cloth dipped in the cleaning or stain removal product. This test is also essential for natural-coloured furniture. Wait until the area is dry before making a decision!

It is easiest to remove stains on upholstered furniture immediately. Take care with upholstery fabrics made from cotton, linen, silk and viscose: please consult a cleaning company!

Dab damp stains with an absorbent cloth or paper. Then treat any remaining marks with a special upholstery cleaning product (depending on the nature of the stain), diluted as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Never apply cleaning products directly to the upholstery fabric. Put the product on a white cloth. Use this cloth to absorb the stain, starting at the edge and working towards the middle. Finally, rub off the residue using a damp cloth, then finish by rubbing with a dry cloth.

Be careful! Rubbing can alter the surface of the upholstery fabric. The last stage of the treatment should always follow the direction of the pile. Always dry the upholstered furniture immediately.

- Pressure and sitting marks- In some cases, pressure, heat and moisture can cause pressure marks on velvet, which may be light or heavy. This also depends on the type of padding used underneath the fabric. Sitting marks of this kind – also known as usage patina – cause changes to patches of the fabric. This is typical of the product type and not a sign of inferior quality. In our experience, it is not always possible to remove sitting marks by treating the fabric, e.g. steaming and brushing it.

To some degree, sitting marks are therefore typical of all woven pile fabrics. The best way to reduce them is to clean the fabric regularly and occasionally brush the pile in every direction.

In the case of natural fibres (NOT Trevira® velvet), it is possible to make the pile stand upright again by steaming it without any pressure or drips or by laying a damp (not wet) cloth on it overnight.

NB: The furniture must only be used once the cover has dried completely (allow at least 24 hours). Gently brush it after it has dried. Please use a brush with soft bristles (e.g. a clothes brush). This method is not recommended for silk velvet such as Prince.

! Please ensure that no hot-water bottles, electric blankets, etc. are placed on the fabric. The combination of heat and pressure can permanently change the surface of the fabric.