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Ooooota lounging in a Song Chaise Longue covered in Plaster Velvet

For the love (and care) of Velvet

One of the most luxurious fabrics, velvet transcends the notion of trend, and it styles any room beautifully. Some find it a little intimidating, whether because it seems extravagant or maybe troublesome, but once understood, velvet feels equally at home in modern and relaxed spaces as it does in a glamorous setting. Our Maker&Son natural cotton velvets are a perfectly practical option for any home when you know what to expect and how to care for them.

Origins of Velvet

We can’t be completely certain of the origins of velvet, but it seems universally agreed that it originated in the 13th century, somewhere in the Far East. By the time of the Italian Renaissance, velvet was appearing in other parts of the world. Interestingly, the name ‘velvet’ actually has latin origins in the Italian word velluto, which means shaggy cloth.

Early velvets were woven from pure silk, and often dyed with very deep and royal colours. It was rather costly to produce before the introduction of modern industrial looms and so were primarily available to the royal families and the very wealthy. Velvet’s ability to hold rich colour made it even more attractive for use in royal ceremonies and occasions, which helped to send a clear message of luxury that has held over time, in spite of the cost of production coming down as modern industrial looms have developed.

How velvet is made

Velvet is unique in so many ways, that all begin with the weaving process. Velvet is not linked to one specific fiber, and unlike linen - which is a flat-woven fabric - velvet requires much more yarn and involves considerably more steps to produce. Those extra steps are what give velvet such an interesting and unique texture.

First, the yarn is woven together on a loom between two layers of backing - one on top of the other - which are joined by a second warp thread. The fabric is then split down the middle - creating two identical pieces - each with a raised ‘pile’ (fuzzy hairlike densely packed threads that protrude vertically) providing the softness and heightened texture that is synonymous with velvet. The ‘pile’ is what simultaneously gives velvet it’s visual magic as well as its dynamic nature, enabling movement and changes in appearance simply by touching its surface.

Today, velvet can be woven from many different fibers including silk, linen, wool and synthetic fibers - which are commonly used in combination with others to make them more durable or economical. However, all Maker&Son fabrics are entirely natural, and we choose 100% cotton to make both our long and short pile velvets. Cotton provides natural beauty as well as durability, and enables our velvets to beautifully catch the light yet without surface shine or the ‘crushed” look that is more typical of silk velvets.

Made to last, with care

If we judge velvet by appearance, we could be forgiven for believing it is delicate or high-maintenance. In actual fact, velvets can last a lifetime when looked after properly. You may notice when sitting on velvet furniture that the pile can ruffle and ‘bruise’. While some adore and seek this ‘crushed’ look, others can panic when this happens. It’s important to know that the pile will return to its natural state on its own, or you can gently brush or steam it to help smooth it out. A little bit of care and maintenance goes a long way.

Here are our top tips to help you keep your velvet covers to look fresh, and age gracefully over time:

  • Remove dust regularly using a soft brush, or the upholstery attachment on your hoover.

  • Keep velvet out of direct sunlight to protect rich or vibrant hues from fading.

  • Simply turning, shaking or moving cushions can help velvet to avoid the little wrinkles and pressure marks that arise from sitting in the same place for too long, or being sat upon for too long. The longer a wrinkle is in place, the harder it is to remove.

  • Use a steamer to remove wrinkles or to liven up flat or ‘bruised’ areas. The steamer will gently loosen up the fibres, and brushing in the direction of the pile will lift and restore.

  • Catch spills and stains early by blotting (do not rub or apply pressure) and cleaning quickly with a suitable upholstery cleaner and a gentle sponge or cloth. Velvet and liquid simply don't get along, since excessive moisture will crush the pile and leave marks. Sometimes a hairdryer can be helpful (ensuring that you hold the hairdryer at a safe distance to avoid heat damage) and then simply brush to restore.

  • We suggest testing any products on a hidden area of the fabric to avoid damage or discolouration. Note that cotton velvets can be tricky and often ‘kink’ while cleaning, so be careful not to wet the fabric more than absolutely necessary.

Regular care and attention are the best friends of velvet, but sometimes despite our best efforts accidents do happen. You may need to enlist the support of an expert, and have velvet covers professionally cleaned to remove spots or stains. When it comes to regular clearing, our velvets are the only Maker&Son fabrics that cannot be machine washed at home, so we recommend dry cleaning as the best approach.

We love our Velvet, and we hope you do too. We believe that by understanding velvet and by taking that little bit of regular care and extra attention you’ll see that they age with grace and elegance. When in doubt, please consult our Care Guide.