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Velvet textiles are a woven fabric originally made of silk, but can also be made of cotton, rayon, polyester, or a blend.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
- Decrease the Presser Foot Pressure on your machine to allow the thickness of the velvet pile to feed smoothly under the foot.
- 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
- 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.
- The straight stitch length should be 2.5-3.0 mm.
- Avoid damaging the velvet pile by using Clover Wonder Clips within the seam allowance to hold layers together.
- 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.
- 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 weallsew.com that you might enjoy!
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