Sunday, 29 November 2015

A brief history of velvet and I made a skirt!


 
Velvet is one of my favourite fabrics. Not because it's easy to work with, because it bloody isn't, but because it's so beautiful to look at and exquisite to touch, at least I think it is. Velvet seems to be the 'marmite' of the sewing world with few sitting on the fence as to its appeal. My friend says she feels physically sick touching velvet in the same way I do when touching polar fleece, blerg. But to me the inimitable joy of velvet lies in the beautiful shimmer and richness of the colours it brings to a garment. I wouldn't recommend using velvet for anything intricate unless you are an experienced needle woman as the pile makes this fabric shift and move around as you sew and this requires lots and lots of pins to keep your sanity intact and your seams vaguely straight. 

I decided to read up on one of my favourite winter fabrics and was amazed to discover that velvet has been produced for as long as 4000 years with early examples discovered dating back as far as 2000bc in Egypt. Due to the highly labour intensive manufacturing process velvet was always extremely expensive and considered a luxury item. Velvet came to England in the 13th century when the king's tailor bought a velvet upholstered bed in Paris, how wonderful! It then became incredibly popular with English nobility for upholstery but also curtains and clothing. During the Middle Ages velvet weaving techniques were some sort of highly guarded secret passed down through weavers' guilds which I find incredibly exciting and mysterious as to me velvet as a fabric has a rather magical and mysterious quality to it, akin to a magicians cape or similar. This continued until Napoleon outlawed guilds during the French Revolution. 

It wasn't until the industrial revolution of the 19th century that velvet production was mechanised and became accessible and affordable to a wider audience, like me! 
I decided to make a little simple velvet mini skirt for autumn winter and initially made the waistband in velvet too which turned out to be a terrible idea and so I swapped it for a poly cotton waistband which sits much more smoothly and the invisible zipper actually is able to move across it, unlike on the initial bulky velvet one. Inspiration for said velvet skirt:

Source 
 
Velvet is perfect for the winter as due to the pile it is super cosy and looks cute with black tights. I chose the richest most jewel-like colour I could get my hands on and went for this polyester, fluid velvet from Fabric Land. 
I drafted the pattern myself as this is a super simple gathered skirt I made using two rectangles gathered onto a rectangular waistband. High tech shit. But I decided that a fabric this lovely didn't need a fancy pattern to look lovely. To be carefull when you are working with velvet that you take the nap into consideration when cutting your pieces so that you don't end up with one panel going upwards and the other downwards as in the light they will look a different colour from each other. 



 
Also, look at my lovely new flat! If you look at my blog with any regularity you may notice I have not blogged in weeks and weeks and for this I apologise as I so love writing and sharing my makes with you. But exciting news, the reason for this absence is bf and I bought out first flat together and so have been busily making multiple trips to Homebase and calling plumbers with little time left to sew. Until now! Watch this space for winter wardrobe updates. 

Thanks for reading an happy sewing x o x o