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Embossing Velvet

  • Basic embossing instructions - click here.
  • For tutorials on making embossed pillows and sachets - click here.
  • (See our Galleries for more images of stamps embossed on velvet.)

Velvet stamp

About Embossed Velvet

Embossed velvet is very striking and beautiful. Images are sunken into the pile of the velvet so that you get a textural as well as visual effect. The images often also take on an iridescent quality.

Embossing velvet is easier than one might think... and the results are extremely satisfying.

The embossed images are created using heat, producing sunken and iridescent images that can appear shadowy or very reflective depending upon the angle and the folds and fall of the fabric - that is why it can be so tricky to photograph them. Parts of an image may appear "shadowed" while other parts shimmer.

The images are resilient. I have embossed acetate/rayon velvet scarves that I have worn all winter long for several years. They get wet from snow, sleet and rain; get scrunched up, rolled up, sat upon, etc., and the images are still there, even if they are not as crisp as they used to be. I am not recommending this type of treatment, but mention this to give an idea of how the images can last.

It appears that impressing images into velvet using heat may have been around since at least the 16th century. Metal was heated and pressed to the velvet. In the 1990's, Mary O'Neil of Hot Potatoes stamps popularized the use of rubber stamps for the process. For use at home, rubber stamps are obviously easier and safer to use than hot metal.

Velvet Care: Dry clean only. As with most velvets, the fabric may develop shiny spots if spot-treated or excessively rubbed. Washing/soaking the velvet could result in an uneven look to the velvet (shiny and dark areas) and could loosen the pressed fibers of the images, causing them to appear ghostly and blurry.

Uses for Embossed Velvet: Embossed velvet can be used for clothing and accessories (jackets, bags/purses, scarves, shawls, robes, shirts, dresses, skirts, hats, earmuffs, mittens, cowls, slippers, etc.), as well as items for the home and gifts (throws, curtains, pillows, sachets, runners, wall hangings, upholstery, boxes, holiday ornaments and stockings, jewelry/treasure/gift bags, journal/album covers, etc.).


Embossing Velvet: Video Instructions

I just found this instructional video for embossing velvet. Seeing things visually can make step-by-step instructions easier to follow, so take a look.  Here are a few notes I have on the video:

  1. The velvet is heavily saturated in this video.  I think this amount can be fine if you are using lighter-weight velvets or velvets that already have a "crinkled" look, as the velvet used in the video does. If you are using a heavier velvet, however, this amount of water can cause shiny spots, as well as make the resulting images less crisp.  Also, the more saturated the fabric, the longer you need to hold the iron to the velvet in order for it to dry.  If you plan on using a stamp to make a number of impressions, there is a greater chance that you will heat any mounting adhesives, which can cause slippage.  I recommend using as little water as is necessary to cover the stamp, just to be safe. 
  2. Again, I try to err on the "safe side" - I wouldn't emboss velvet (especially expensive velvet) with an iron surface with this many large steam holes. It makes it harder to control image quality.
  3. While you do want to minimize chances that the velvet could move relative to the stamp, if you have a smooth iron surface that can glide, you should be able move the iron a bit horizontally.  If you are unsure, do err on the conservative side and lift the iron up each time you want to shift its placement.

I know - the video makes it seem so much quicker and easier than all that!  Take my slant with a grain of salt.  I approach velvet embossing as a business crafter, producing large numbers of items using different types of velvets, stamps, irons, water spritzers, etc..  I have tried to hone things so that I can get the most uniform and predictable results as possible, time and time again.  In typing out instructions to pass on to others, I want to convey all the issues I've come across so that others considering doing large amounts of embossing can find as much relevant information as possible.  If you are simply looking for a fun afternoon project, you may decide to be a little more loose with the details.  (But please, still do take a look at the safety precautions I give about some types of velvet content.)

Embossing Velvet: Written Instructions

head image

(A more basic and print-friendly version of the instructions below can be found here.)

You Will Need:

Always do some test swatches for each type of velvet you use so you can vary spritzing, iron temperature, etc.

Steps:

  • Heat iron to the cotton or wool setting.  NO STEAM. To be safe, empty any water out of the iron.
  • Dampen the stamp and velvet.  There are two ways to dampen the stamp and velvet.  See below.  Both work well and it may just be a matter of preference.  I personally find that the first method produces more consistently crisp images and allows me to avoid dampening previously embossed areas of the velvet, which can result in cloudiness and tufting in those areas.  With either method, you may find that you need less water than you would think.  Coverage of all areas of the stamp is most important.
    • Lightly spritz the stamp itself.  You can wipe your hand across the stamp so that all parts are dampened, without large droplets, and tap the stamp sideways on a surface to expel droplets from between the raised parts of the image.  
    • Place the stamp, image-side up, on the ironing surface.
    • Place the velvet, pile-side down, over the stamp. 

wet stamp wet stamp2

OR

    • Place the stamp, image-side up, on the ironing surface.
    • Place the velvet, pile-side down, over the stamp.
    • Lightly and evenly mist the back of the velvet where it covers the stamp.  Avoid getting a concentration in any one spot.

wet velvet wet velvet2

  • Press the iron on the velvet over the area that covers the stamp. Avoid having iron steam holes positioned against the stamp. Keep the iron flat.  If you have a clean and smooth iron surface (a Teflon iron cover helps), a little sliding back and forth or side to side across the stamp can help you get crisper images and reduce the visibility of marks from holes in the iron plate or iron cover.  It is important to ensure that the iron is kept parallel to the ironing surface, that no movement causes the velvet to shift in relation to the stamp, and that the iron covers all parts of the stamp at all times.
  • Press for 10-20 seconds.

press

  • Pull the iron up, keeping it parallel to the ironing surface.
  • If your velvet sticks to the iron, then the iron setting is too high for the type of velvet you have.  Adjust.
  • If you see any wet spots through the velvet, lightly set the iron down again to dry it out.  Wet spots can dry into shiny spots that reflect light and detract from the impact of the image on a cleaner field of velvet.

wet spots

  • Once there are no wet spots, carefully lift a corner of the velvet to see how the image took. If you feel it needs longer, carefully lower the velvet back onto the same area of the stamp and press again, perhaps even lightly misting again beforehand.

remove velvet embossed velvet

"Voila!" (or "Viola!")


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