How to embroider on velvet

By on December 28th, 2020
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There are very few fabrics that scream “holiday dress up” to me like velvet. I absolutely love it.  It’s soft, it’s dramatic and it’s actually warm.  What’s not to love?  But if you are looking to add another layer of embellishment by embroidering this luxe fabric, you may  be slightly daunted.  Velvet can be a tricky materials to sew with. But, to embroider on, velvet is actually quite easy.

When to embroider on velvet

Wonder when you might ever want to embroider on velvet? Tons of reasons!

Apparel

Velvet has great drape and luxurious sheen, so it is often used peasant style, full dresses. I’ve seen velvet details embroidered on these types of dresses, along the sleeves and around the neckline. The embroidery gives the dress a bohemian, exotic look, like what you might find on the racks in Anthropologie.

Velvet’s warmth and drape make it a perfect material to make an elegant wrap or a shawl.  Last Christmas I spotted these simple stretch velvet shawl in one of my favorite local boutiques (for $100) and recreated them for my sister and sister-in-law (at a fraction of the cost).  But – (in my opinion) I actually made it BETTER than the original by adding a pompom trim. And,  I think they turned out great.  I debated about adding a small monogram to the shawls, but time got the best of me.

finished shawl with pompom trim

Accessories

Velvet is also a great fabric for making elegant accessories. Black velvet can be used to make a dramatic in-the-hoop necklace with elaborate, embroidered details. All you need is a bit of 1/4″ satin ribbon to tie it together.

in the hoop necklace with black velvet
Photo provided by Ivana Studios and used with their permission. Visit their site to get the in-the-hoop design.

I would also recommend velvet as a material to make an elegant clutch. You can buy the clutch frame and make your own purse.  Just stitch out an embroidery design or a monogram on the velvet before stitching the clutch together.

Home decor

Velvet is not just for apparel, is also frequently used in home decor.  I’ve seen velvet curtains and bedskirts…. which seems really HEAVY to me and is definitely not my jam. I do like velvet pillows and seat cushions upholstered in velvet. For pillow covers, I would just use regular apparel velvet, but seat covers are typically upholstered with home decor velvet which is stiffer and more durable than the velvet you would use in apparel.

monogrammed velvet cushion chair
I reupholstered this chair cushion and added a monogram.  See how I did it. 

Sewing on velvet

I’ve made a lot of velvet clothing in my day. Back in the 90’s I made myself a pair of purple velvet shorts that I would wear around the holidays with black tights and some big chunky shoes.  It was quite a look.

I wore those velvet shorts with pride because of how much I struggled trying to make them.  It’s not easy to sew two pieces of velvet together.  When  you pin two right sides of the velvet together, one layer tends to slide around on top of the other and move out of place. It’s infuriating.

Also, when you are working with velvet, you don’t want to make a mistake. The stitching can leave permanent holes in the fabric. If you have to rip out your stitches, the needle marks may not go away!

Purchasing velvet

Just about every fabric store carries some type of velvet, but there can be quite a difference in quality. Velvet was once only comprised of silk, which made it quite expensive, a fabric that only royalty could afford. While you can still purchase silk velvet, there are now many other varieties that are quite affordable.

Each of these different types of velvet are less than $10 per yard, with the exception of the rayon/silk blend which is over $40/ yard.

Embroidery designs suitable for embroidering on velvet

Regardless of what type of velvet you buy, the fabric has pile. Your stitching can easily get lost in the texture of the material. An embroidery design with fine lines and  lot of detail will get lost in the texture of the fabric. Choose bold fonts and less delicate designs.

Essential Stabilizer for Machine Embroidery

How to embroider on velvet

The easiest way to embroider on velvet is to float the velvet instead of trying to hoop it.  It’s not that the velvet is so difficult to hoop, it is because the hooping will leave a mark on the velvet (otherwise known as hoop burn), and it can be difficult to remove. Floating is quick and easy and allows you to avoid hoop burn.

Determine what stabilizer you need

If you are working with stretch velvet, you will definitely want to fuse some poly mesh stabilizer on the back of the velvet before you start embroidering. The fusible poly mesh stabilizer keeps the velvet from stretching during the embroidery process.

Even if the velvet is not stretchy, it may be appropriate to use some type of permanent stabilizer (especially for dense designs) so that the design does not destroy the integrity of the fabric.

Hoop your tear away stabilizer

In order to float the velvet, you will need to hoop a piece of sticky back tear away stabilizer, regardless of whether you have opted to fuse any poly mesh stabilizer on the back of your velvet.

After you hoop the tearaway stabilizer, score around the inside edge of the hoop with a pin to create a tear in the paper.  Peel away the paper to expose the sticky surface.

If placement, matters, draw a horizontal line across the sticky stabilizer through the center point and extending to the edge of the hoop.  Then, use the folding method to center your design on the velvet.

hooped adhesive-backed stabilizer

Now, lay your velvet on the sticky, hooped stabilizer and smooth it out.

velvet stuck to adhesive backed stabilizer

Before you start stitching, lay down a piece of water soluble topper.  Velvet’s nap will hide the stitches. Your design will look much more prominent if you use a topper. If you are worried about the topper sliding around, you can tape it to the sides of the hoop, or you can pin it if you the pins won’t leave a permanent hole.  If there is any sticky stabilizer exposed, you can hold the topper in place by sticking it to the stabilizer.

water soluble topper on top of floated velvet

 

Now – stitch out your design!

When the stitching is complete, simply peel away the water soluble topper.  And, of course, trim your connector strings if necessary.

machine embroidery on velvet

See? No big deal.  Embroidering on velvet is super easy and satisfying.

Happy stitching!

xo

Julie

Essential Supplies for Machine Embroidery
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how to machine embroider on velvet

 

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