Sewing with Velvet: Tips and Tricks


Velvet textiles are a woven fabric originally made of silk, but can also be made of cotton, rayon, polyester, or a blend. It is woven in a way that a pile is created. If the pile is brushed up, the fabric looks darker in color. If the pile is brushed down, the fabric looks a lighter color. This is called “nap” and must be a consideration when making your project. Let’s take a look!


Fabric Characteristics of Velvet:

  • Lightweight velvet has beautiful drape and flow
  • Has a shimmery surface
  • Requires a nap pattern layout
  • The pile sheds at cut edges
  • Easily marked by pins, heat, moisture
  • More difficult to sew – fabric creeps, may pucker
  • Edges may fray

Care and Use of Velvet:

  • May need dry cleaning
  • Never touch iron to velvet surface
  • Use a steamer to release wrinkles
  • Perfect for projects from garments to upholstery
  • Store velvet rolled, not folded

Recommended BERNINA Presser Feet for Sewing Velvet

BERNINA Roller Foot #51


BERNINA has several presser feet designed for sewing with fabrics like velvet, which tend to creep along as you sew. First the Roller Foot #51, which has rollers on the bottom to move easily over the fabric.

BERNINA Three-Sole Walking Foot with Seam Guide #50


Of course, the Walking Foot #50 will also feed the fabric evenly. For best results, sew in the direction of the pile brushed down.

BERNINA Non-stick Presser Feet



BERNINA Non-stick presser feet are identical in design to other presser feet, but they are made with a coating on the sole that allows them to move over the fabric easily.

Zigzag Foot with Non-Stick Sole #52/52C/52D is a version of the Zigzag Foot #0 and good for general all-purpose sewing. This foot will work well for straight stitch and zigzag stitching.

Straight Stitch Foot with Non-Stick Sole #53 is a precision straight stitch foot with a narrow toe for topstitching.

Zipper Foot with Non-Stick Sole #54 is a 5.5 mm zipper foot with an adjustable guide and works with all BERNINA machine models regardless of the stitch width.

Open Embroidery Foot with Non-Stick Sole #56 is a version of Open Embroidery Foot #20 and is good for sewing heavy decorative stitches. This will sew patterns up to 5.5mm stitch width.

Tips for Sewing Velvet

  1. Decrease the Presser Foot Pressure on your machine to allow the thickness of the velvet pile to feed smoothly under the foot.


  1. Use a Microtex needle, size 70 to 80 depending on the weight of your velvet. If your fabric has a stretch component, choose a Ballpoint or Stretch needle instead


  1. Also, cotton or silk threads are your best choices. When sewing with velvet, I use the same thread in the top and in the bobbin. This helps keep your stitch balanced. Mettler Silk Finish Cotton is a good choice.


  1. The straight stitch length should be 2.5-3.0 mm.


  1. Avoid damaging the velvet pile by using Clover Wonder Clips within the seam allowance to hold layers together.


  1. One of the most important tools for sewing with velvet is a sharp pair of scissors.

Consider trying my favorite, Kai 8 ½ inch Dressmaking Shears.


  1. The Laurastar Steam Iron is a great choice for steaming velvet because the steam is such a fine mist that it will not mark the fabric.


Velvet is a unique specialty fabric that makes an amazing impression. Try it on your next project.

Our friends at Seamwork Magazine wrote a really great guide to sewing with velvet—check it out here: A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing Velvet  |  Seamwork Magazine

Here are a few projects from that you might enjoy!

Fear No Fabric

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