Velvet for making flowers

Velvet for making flowers

velvet pansies2 (1280x939)As autumn draws nearer I want to talk about velvet for making flowers. Velvet flowers are great for autumn-winter season and make perfect trims for felt hats too.
Since velvet was introduced for the first time in the Middle East back in 9th century it has always been associated with luxury, nobility, royalty. And indeed it was so expensive in the past that only wealthy people could afford it.

So what is velvet?
Velvet is a kind of woven tufted fabric in which the cut threads are distributed in an even manner in a short dense pile thus giving a very soft and smooth feel. Traditionally velvet was made using silk. Nowadays velvet is made from cotton, linen, mohair and wool along with silk. Lately, synthetic velvets too are being produced.

velvet gladiolus flower 2In flower making we are only interested in velvets made using natural fibers like silk, viscose or cotton. These fabrics dye well with Procion and other silk dyes and can be shaped with millinery tools.
Velvet is perfect for making leaves (with the use of our Realistic Fabric leaves tutorial ), but whole flowers can be created out of it too. Think roses, pansies, gladioli, daffodils, orchids, camellias and many others.
Very often velvet is used for making flower centres or even for wrapping stems (as we did in CAMELLIA JAPONICA video tutorial)
Most of the techniques for working with velvet are very similar to other fabrics but there are some tricks and nuances that make velvet a little bit more delicate to deal with.
First is colouring. Because of its heavy weight, thickness and pile velvet absorbs a lot of water when being dyed. When left to dry on paper it will also lose a lot of water together with the dye. To achieve a brighter colour with velvet I always recommend drying flower parts on non porous surfaces like glass or plastic.
velvet fantasy flower 4Velvet is always dyed from the right side. Try to be gentle with your brush strokes not to mess up the pile too much.
As you can imagine velvet dries quite slowly too, especially on a non porous surface.
Another thing that can be tricky is shaping.
When shaping velvet take your time and do it slowly, letting the hot tool warm the thick fabric through and mould it into shape.
In most cases velvet flower parts are backed with a thin layer of fabric.
Because velvet has such a gorgeous sophisticated finish I like using lame fabrics for backing to add an extra touch.
Velvet can be backed with satin too.
Like all other fabrics velvet needs to be stiffened before it can be used for making flowers. A while ago I have already described one way velvet can be stiffened (please check out this post to find out how).

cotton velvet

 

The type of velvet I commonly use in my works is made of cotton and has a very short pile.

It dyes well and is easy to work with.
I have a limited quantity of fat quarters of this velvet currently available in my shop, so if you’d like to try it in your designs, make sure you get one now.
Ah, and the best bit is that this velvet comes prestiffened. It means it is ready to be used either for leaves, petals or a complete flower. To buy a velvet fat quarter please use the button below
Stiffen lace to get prepared for the new tutorial

Stiffen lace to get prepared for the new tutorial

lace orchid headband 2At the moment I am working on a new video tutorial on Silk and Lace Orchid flowers where I will show you and explain how to make an open hair circlet with lace and silk orchids decorated with freshwater pearls.

All the fabrics that are used for making flowers using a flower iron have to be stiffened and lace is no exception here. Please read through a mini-tutorial below to learn how you can prepare your velvet and lace for making flowers.

I often use lace and velvet fabrics for making leaves to enhance my fantasy flowers.

Whilst it is possible to obtain industrially treated delicate fabrics tutorial 1velvet ready for making flowers, I have never seen any ready to use lace fabric. So what to do if you have that nice piece of vintage lace or gorgeously coloured square of velvet you would like to incorporate into your design? Use gelatine? I can tell you from my experience these attempts have not been very successful as the gelatine tends to form a film on the structure of the lace and makes the velvet pile all stuck together. So how to prepare these delicate fabrics for using in flower making?

1. What I discovered is that I can use the starch spray for this job. Not only does it give a better result but it is also easier and quicker to use.

I use the spray starch which is normally used for shirts.
delicate fabrics tutorial 2
2. For the lace just follow the instructions on the can, that is spray the piece of lace with the spray starch and iron it. In minutes your lace is stiffened and ready to use.
delicate fabrics tutorial 3
3. As for the velvet I pin it to some vertical surface (an ironing board in my case), and spray the wrong side of the velvet fabric with the starch spray. After that I leave it to dry naturally. You can try and iron it but I have noticed that it makes it too stiff and affects the pile, especially of silk and viscose velvets. After the velvet has dried it is ready to use.The spray starch might give less body to the fabrics than the gelatine that is why it is strongly recommended to back both lace and velvet with another layer of fabric. You can use decorative metallic thread fabrics like this specialist Lame Backing Fabric here, or thin natural silk or rayon pongee fabric.
For more information on how to back petals and leaves check out our other tutorials
I hope you found this information useful and will now be using some beautiful fabrics with more confidence in your designs.
Stiffened lace or velvet as the case may be are ideal for creating delicate butterfly wings. To learn how please check out this .pdf tutorial on a lace butterfly headband
lace butterfly tutorial
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