I’m about to start the skirt for the emerald prom dress, so I figured it was probably best to revisit my previous experiences sewing with this fabric, as well as research new hints and tips.
My first sewing experience with with this Vogue pattern using a stretch velvet. I had just started sewing and wanted to try a pattern with knit and maybe something I could add to the costume closet. I was not prepared for the disaster that awaited me.
I cut the pattern and naively began sewing without researching first. My seams popped trying to put it on the form and, even worse, I couldn’t understand why the fabric kept shifting under the presser foot. I finally got enough of the dress sewn to consider it “done,” but it certainly wasn’t anything I wanted to put on stage!
I’ve had successful experiences sewing with velvet since then. If you’re about to jump in, be advised that it will take a lot of patience and a lot of time, but as is the case with so much in sewing, you’ll be rewarded with great results.
Seamwork Magazine has a great overview of sewing with velvet, including the different types of velvet available and choosing a pattern best suited to velvet (ie, simplicity is best).
Threads Magazine also has a feature on sewing with velvets, but as with anything, consult multiple sources and make your best decision. I say that because this article details using a spray adhesive to hold seams together while sewing. I would say, proceed with immense caution! And lay down lots of newspaper!
When sewing velvet, you really don’t want to press or even put much pressure on the fabric to avoid crushing the pile. When hemming, I prefer to sew by hand (surprise!) Your results will be more consistent and beautiful from the right side. (Remember that the main function of hand-sewing is control!) Mood has a nice tutorial for blind-hemming by hand, which is what I’ll use on the emerald prom dress. (And it’s another good argument for underlining your garment.)
When I first began to sew, Professor Pincushion was my go-to resource. Her videos are really easy to follow for beginners. Yep, she has a velvet video! It’s worth a look if you’re never sewn with velvet before.
Personally, I’ve only ever done embroidery or beading on velvet by hand, but it’s possible to use glues or machine stitching to affix them. There’s tutorial here on doing so.
Learning to bead isn’t difficult, but it’s definitely time-consuming. Velvet shows off beads beautifully, so it’s worth the time and effort to create something truly special on the surface of the fabric. I would recommend starting here, if you’d like to try beading. Practice first on an easier fabric like cotton muslin, then try on a scrap of velvet. There’s a project idea here, that seems doable and she mentions how to transfer your design onto the fabric.
Most of what I’ve posted applies specifically to woven velvet. If you’re going to use stretch velvet, there are additional factors to keep in mind. This page has a nice overview of working with stretch and the tips she offers were helpful to me when sewing.
I hope this helps you get started and perhaps inspire you to give velvet a try. It’s certainly not the easier fabric to sew with, but if you’re patient and willing to work slowly, you’ll get good results. It’s worth a try!