Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Luxurious Velvet

Soft and sumptuous, velvet has an unmistakable appearance and rich history.  Velvet is historically the cloth of opulence and wealth, worn by nobility and used to adorn castles and estates all over the world.  
Mary Jo’s cashier Donna Layel is ready
for a night at the opera in this Renaissance
inspired dress that she created from velvet remnants.

When you think of fabrics from the Renaissance or Victorian eras, velvet immediately comes to mind.

Today velvet is more affordable and widely used.  It can be made from many different fibers including silk, cotton and polyester.  

The plush, napped surface is easy to love.  A little bit of velvet can add luxurious details to clothing: collars, cuffs and buttons. A velvet clutch is the perfect accessory!

Mary Jo’s class instructor Jessica Trimmer created this elegant velvet purse.
One of the beautiful characteristics of velvet, the fine napped surface, also makes it a tricky fabric to warehouse and store.  At Mary Jo’s, velvets are rolled on special racks that allow the layers to be spaced, preventing the nap from being crushed which could permanently damage the pile.  Long-term folding can create creases, which are difficult to remove so plan to use velvet soon after purchasing.

A sneak peek into the velvet storage area at Mary Jo’s
Interior designers are crazy about velvets because of the rich colors and soft texture, but also because it reflects light so beautifully.  Velvet is popular for upholstery, throw pillows, table skirts and curtains.  One velvet pillow can make you feel like royalty!  Here is a pillow that is easy to make, and showcases the beauty of velvet fabric with a center ruched panel.

Velvet Pillow with Ruched Panel
Fabric cuts:
1 piece muslin or cotton lining at 17 inches x 17 inches (base piece for pillow front)
1 piece velvet at 9 inches x 32 inches (center ruched panel)
2 pieces velvet at 5 inches x 17 inches (side pieces on front)
1 piece velvet at 17 inches x 17 inches (back)

Step one:
Mark two lines inset 4 inches from each side of the base piece for the pillow front.  Using a needle and thread, sew a running stitch down the 32 inch side of the velvet piece cut for the center ruched panel, gathering the fabric along the stitches to fit the pillow base.  Pin in place centered on the base piece, next to the marks.

Step two:
Sew the ruched panel along both sides using a 3/8-inch seam allowance, taking small tucks and gathers by hand to create a horizontal gathered design.

Step three:
After the center ruched panel is sewn, pin each sidepiece face down, along the edge of the ruched panel.  Pay attention to the nap on the velvet, to make sure both pieces are pinned with the nap running in the same direction.  Sew the side panels to the ruched panel using a ½-inch seam allowance.

Step four:
Turn the side piecesover, and pin to the outer edges of the base piece.  Sew or serge around the outer edges.  Note: Serging the edges will prevent fraying and is also recommended for the back piece.

Step five:
Pin the back piece to the front piece and sew around all four sides.  Leave an opening at the bottom for turning right sides out.  Turn the pillow right sides out, insert a pillow form and hand stitch the opening closed.

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