for Working with Velvet and Taffeta
A tip sheet is included with every new order, but here are some frequently asked questions.
CAUTION: The dyes for these fabrics are heat set. The dyed fabric especially velvet is not guaranteed to be colorfast and reds and deep violets are especially prone to slight bleeding, as are red wools. Spot clean or hand wash separately in cold water. Be careful pressing the velvet and taffeta as it can burn; use a pressing cloth on wrong side and start with medium heat, avoid or minimize steam.
Q. How do I cut the velvet? Does it tear?
A. Stretch velvet does not tear. I use a rotary cutter and healing mat with nap down or scissors. I find folding the velvet twice or three times to make a 10-15" length is easier to cut cleanly. Avoid using your hooking or braiding cutter as it could dull the cutter.
Q. Do I need to cut in one direction?
A. There is a nap to the velvet; one direction has more sheen-the other a more matte look. Both fine, your preference; try to cut, braid and hook in the same direction consistently.
Q. Can I press/iron?
A. Stretch velvet will burn/melt on too high an iron temperature. Be cautious and use medium heat with a pressing cloth on the wrong side. Avoid or minimize steam.
Q. How to I clean your velvet?
A. Spot clean with cold water. Colors should be fast but test and hand wash separately.
Reds are especially prone to bleeding.
Q. What hooking backing can I use?
A. You can use traditional rug hooking backing like monks or linen or panel cloth. Because the velvet and taffeta ‘slides’ so easily, you can use panel cloth (Verel).
Q. What ‘cut’ should I use for hooking?
A. I start with ½” width for both velvet and taffeta and go from there. Narrower, ¼” for outlining and wider for borders or to vary textured look. If used with wool, I use approximately 50% wider than the wool cut. Vary the width within a piece for more texture. You might find you want to fold the taffeta to minimize raw edges.
Q. How do I hook with velvet and taffeta?
A. Pull up loops as high as you want. The higher you make the loops, the more drape you will get in the velvet. The taffeta hooks into a knobby texture which contrasts nicely with the softness of velvet and the uniformity of wool. Pull up and cut off starts and tails, as with wool. If you pull with a little tension on the velvet then cut, the ends will nestle back and be less apparent. Feather the ends of velvet and taffeta if they show too much.
Q. Can I mix fibers?
A. Absolutely! Feel free to mix with wool, yarn, or silk or hook all in velvet/taffeta. Each of these fabrics has a different texture and compliments/contrasts.
Q. How do I braid with velvet and taffeta?
A. I cut the strips 1.25-1.5” wide with rotary cutter. Wider strips create limp braids! I have used 1.75" in a mixed fiber floor rug but stuffed the braid with thin piece of waste wool to create a plump braid that matches the wool loops.
Try to braid looser than with wool; the stretch takes a while to get used to. Don’t pull or lace too tightly. The relaxed loops will naturally drape more than wool; it’s the look. Use hemostat as usual.
If you want a tighter braid, consider stuffing with waste wool and pull tight. Use the wider measurement if you stuff.
Use your favorite start, taper and butt techniques (I like enclosed end and Annie’s Fanny)
Q. How about applique?
A. Both velvet and taffeta work well in applique. The advantage of stretch velvet is that it cuts cleanly and does not fray. Accepts any weight of fusing material. Taffeta can be used fused or plain. Both add a shine and texture which compliments wool and cotton.