Sewing Tips and Tricks: Stretch Velvet

Friday, January 05, 2018

Just before the holidays I sewed the Modkid Aubrey in stretch velvet fabric. Since stretch velvet is hot, hot, hot this season, I thought I would pass on a few tips that I learned.

Many instruct you to dry clean only. I had no issues with pre-washing the fabric on cold and tumble drying on low. I plan to wash the finished garment on cold and hang to dry for longevity.

Use patterns that do not require a lot of topstitching and keep the thickness of your fabric in mind. Tight gathers will result in very thick seams. Stretch velvet can be dressed up in the case of this Modkid Aubrey, or it can take on a more casual look such as with the Modkid Tessa jogger set or Modkid Annika.

Even though you may not notice a nap (The fibers on a fabric like velvet or corduroy lie in a particular direction, known as “nap”.) visually, you can determine a velvet nap by touch. Running your hand down the length of the fabric in one direction will feel very smooth while the other direction will have more friction. Traditionally, the pile should run down the garment, so when you run your hand from top to bottom, the velvet will feel smooth. It is key to cut all pattern pieces in the same direction just as you would with a directional print.
I found this tip after I had cut my pattern pieces, and it makes a lot of sense. Folding the fabric with right sides together will allow the nap to "grab" onto itself and reduce fabric slippage. If you opt to cut the fabric wrong sides together, use LOTS of pattern weights.

Steam is your best friend! Gently finger press seams, then apply lots and lots of steam on the wrong side of the fabric. You may not even need to touch the iron to the fabric.
To protect the right side of your fabric from getting crushed while pressing the wrong side, try placing a scrap of your velvet with the pile facing up on your ironing board. Alternately, try using a towel or piece of terry cloth on the surface.

I use the same practices I would for sewing knits when sewing velvet. You can find our Tips for Sewing with Knits here. Sewing stretch velvet should not be intimidating!! When sewing seams, the fabric nap grabs onto itself, so the fabric does not slip around as you might think. The only additional suggestions, I would include is to use binding clips in lieu of pins as they are easier to use with thicker fabrics and to increase your typical stitch length.

If possible, as I did in the Aubrey, increase your hem allowance and use a blind hem stitch by hand or machine. Another option is to finish the raw edge, turn under, and use a long stretch stitch. If the garment is not form fitting at the hem, a long straight stitch will do just fine.

For notes on the slight additions I made to the Aubrey pattern, check out the post at Sweeter Than Cupcakes

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tips - a stretch velvet Annika sounds fabulous!!


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