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Velvet Quilt

TisMary's picture

Greetings all!  I'm new to this group and hope you have some good advice for me.  I am planning to make a lap quilt out of velvet.  I have done quite a bit of homework. but have a few questions. 

  1. What size seam allowance do I use? (I've been advised both 1/4" and 1/2").

  2. What size needle? 

  3. What kind of thread (this is polyester velvet)

  4. Any other words of wisdom?

Thank you all for your help.  Looking forward to this journey!

starzoe's picture

(post #30435, reply #1 of 17)

About the seam allowance - being that velvet has "loft" I would suggest you use the wider seam allowance (and maybe a tiny bit more) and then trim. You might try grading the allowance on a scrap to see if that makes the pieces lie more flat. Poly thread, a universal or fine needle should be fine.

Do you have a velvet pressing board? If not, check out pressing velvet on the internet. For a lap quilt perhaps just finger pressing will be adequate.

TisMary's picture

(post #30435, reply #2 of 17)


Thank you for your response - it was very helpful.  I've been doing some more homework and have some more questions!

First, how do you minimize fraying of the edges?  I've gotten suggestions like Fray Check, pinking shears, shaving the pile within the seam allowance, and enclosing the seam with a French or Mock French Seam.  What's worked best for you?

Next, I've gotten mixed feedback on shears vs. rotary cutter.  What works best for you?  If it's shears, then what kind (I've been told "micro-serrated", straight, and pinking).

How about pinning vs. basting?  Some folks say pin, pin, pin (using super-fine pins), others say no pins but handbaste (with silk thread, uneven stitches, tailor's tacks).

Lots of advice, but hard to connect all the dots!  Have you found any books that are helpful on working with velvet?  Thanks again for your input.

starzoe's picture

(post #30435, reply #3 of 17)

A lot of questions and I am not sure if I will be able to help. You will have to play with different edge finishes about the fraying. You want to make the edges flat and not bumpy in the finished quilt. Maybe a mock-flat felled seam would work, but then you will have an extra row of top-stitching on the top. Serging?

I have a pair of pinking shears but don't use them at all. Good shears that will take sharpening are a good investment.The good ones will be expensive. I don't cut out patterns with a rotary cutter but do use them to cut quilting pieces and bias pieces. Depending on how large your velvet pieces are you may not have to baste or pin them at all.

Have you looked on the internet about working with velvet? For sure you will have lots of fluff no matter which way it is cut.

Am afraid this is not very much help - good luck with your project.

TisMary's picture

(post #30435, reply #4 of 17)

Thanks for the suggestions.  I thought of one more question in the middle of the night - I've got it bad! ;-D  Talking strcitly quilts here, do you use any interfacing on velvet quilt pieces to stabilize them?  If so, iron-on or sew-in?

jjgg's picture

(post #30435, reply #5 of 17)

You sure have lots of questions. Have you ever worked with velvet before? Esp poly velvet (I think you said you were using a poly). The biggest issue with velvet is the 'creep' when it is sewn. The 2 layers will not stay where you put them, the nap wants to crawl in different directions. hand basting is pretty much the only way to really insure perfect matching of seams. some people do have luck with pinning but you have to put pins in like an "X", or pin on both sides of the seam line, one row going up and the other going down.

The next thing is poly velvet is rather stiff with no drape (as compared to silk or rayon velvet). If you are cutting small (6 to 8 inch squares) and seaming them, and just making a lap quilt, it won't be very drapy. You do not want to do a french seam, it will be way to bulky and stiff, I'm not sure you really need to worry about the seams raveling if yo are putting a backing on the quilt, they will be enclosed, and the quilting of the quilt will hold everything in place.

As far as scissors, vs rotary cutter, that's your choice, but cut with the back of the fabric up, mark on the back and use that as a guide.

Pressing is another issue. Velvet doesn't press well - you won't be able to press the seams flat and keep them flat. A hot iron will permanently mar the fabric, and the seam just wont to stay pressed open.

Cotton velveteen is very easy to use but doesn't quite have the 'oomph' that velvet has.

Velvet can make very luxurious quilts, especially when done up as a crazy quilt with lots of hand embroidery and embellishing.

So, the take home message here is "practice, practice, practice"
And then, you must post pictures for us when you are done. I'm eager to see this beautiful quilt.

Edited 7/17/2009 8:05 am ET by jjgg

Edited 7/17/2009 8:05 am ET by jjgg

TisMary's picture

(post #30435, reply #6 of 17)

Thank you, jjgg for the advice.  This weekend, I'll be rolling up my sleeves and starting to practice!

jjgg's picture

(post #30435, reply #7 of 17)

Mary, Let us know how it goes. There were I few other questions you had - seam allowances - I would go wider, like Starzoe said. With the velvet being a rather dense (thick ) fabric, and the seam allowances not wanting to lay flat, a wider seam allowance (3/4 inch)will give you a softer flatter seam - the allowances will be more willing to stay open.

I would use a poly thread- Gutterman or better yet, Metrosene (just my preference).

you do not need any kind of stabilizer or interfacing. That is unless you are embroidering on the velvet. Then I would use a tear away. I would use a scissors to cut, not a rotary blade, and I love serrated edge scissors, After I bought my first pair, I'll never go back to a knife edge. I have a pair of KAI scissors with a micro serrated edge. They rock! It's really amazing the amount of increased control you have with them.


jjgg's picture

(post #30435, reply #9 of 17)

How is the quilt coming? got any pictures for us?

TisMary's picture

(post #30435, reply #11 of 17)

I've made some progress, but not much.  We lost out black lab to liver cancer last week.  He was a wonderful companion and therapy dog.  I'm only now getting through the grief and back to the quilting (and looking for a puppy!) 

So far, I'm finding the velvet quite nice to work with.  Of course, that opinion could change! We'll see!  :-D

jjgg's picture

(post #30435, reply #12 of 17)

Oh, I'm so sorry about your loss, dogs are such wonderful companions.

About marking the velvet, use chalk,

ThreadKoe's picture

(post #30435, reply #15 of 17)

TisMary, I shall grieve also for the loss of your pet, along with the loss of mine. Bob the Dog was lost to cancer also and I miss him terribly. (((Hugs))) Cathy

Ceeayche's picture

(post #30435, reply #16 of 17)

My condolences to both of you on lost of your dogs.  They are family!


Greet each day with Joy.  Embrace your blessings.

Greet each day with Joy.  Embrace your blessings.

ThreadKoe's picture

(post #30435, reply #17 of 17)

Thank you very much. The cats are still looking for him. Makes it even harder. Cathy

Palady's picture

(post #30435, reply #8 of 17)

Catching up after being off-line.   This may be overdue.    Posting with the thought lurkers might find the content of value. 

Whatever joining your doing (have done) on your velvet quilt, be VERY mindful of the nap on each piece.   As a member posted, on the wrong side - mark the direction of the nap with an arrow.  Up or down.  If there'll be lapses in your sewing sessions, use a post-it note with which way you did the marking.  Stick it someplace secure near your machine.  Use additional tape to hang it if need be.

Using velvet, some sewists deliberatley alter the nap on sections to add to the whatever.  But, MO, this takes a serious amount of planning.


TisMary's picture

(post #30435, reply #10 of 17)

I haven't found a marker in my collection that marks well on the back of the velvet - any suggestions?

starzoe's picture

(post #30435, reply #13 of 17)

Yes, a good marker to use is a sliver of soap. If nap is important I mark the direction (on the back). with arrows, otherwise I use random lines on the wrong side. The soap marks will wear off without harming the fabric.

sewluving's picture

(post #30435, reply #14 of 17)

I use slivers of soap to  mark a lot of my sewing projects.  Hemlines included.  I find them easier to use than the chalk markers etc.  I make sure they are sharp first though. 

Heather in Calgary

Heather in Calgary