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Thanks to the plush pile on its front surface, velvet fabric is tricky to iron and press.
Improperly ironing velvet can not only flatten the fluff of the velvet and leave permanent marks, but it can even melt certain types of velvet.
So, how do you prevent these issues? Read along for tips on how to iron velvet upholstery and garment fabric the right way!
Can you iron velvet fabric?
Yes, you can “iron” velvet fabric, but you need to approach the task differently than you would for more durable fabrics.
By following simple rules like avoiding contact with the front of the fabric and using the proper pressing surface, you can achieve success!
How to Iron Velvet Fabric in 6 Steps
If your garment, upholstery, or fabric yardage has instructions on the tag or the end of the fabric bolt, follow those care settings for best results.
And, to avoid having to iron velvet in the first place, store fabric or garments hung or rolled rather than folded to avoid fabric creases and wrinkles.
However, if you are unsure of the care instructions, follow these tips below!
1. Assess Fiber Content of the Velvet, If Possible
Knowing your velvet’s fiber content and construction method will give the best idea of how to iron it.
For instance, durable cotton velvet and velveteen (read: velvet vs. velveteen) tolerate higher temperatures and more iron contact than expensive silk or synthetic velvet. Types of velvet, like rayon velvet, can melt easily, especially if the iron is touched to the right side of the velvet.
Furthermore, some delicate velvet fabrics like acetate velvet are more easily damaged by moisture (don’t press while damp) and contact with an iron.
2. Test Iron Settings
If you don’t know the fiber content of your velvet or recommended care instructions, you need to experiment.
You can test with steam or no steam, light pressure or no contact, and low or medium heat. Some velvet fabrics need only steaming, whereas some may be damaged by steam. Others may require physical pressing, while some may have permanent pile depression from iron contact.
If unsure of the best settings for ironing your velvet, start with medium heat and steam, and avoid touching the iron to the fabric.
Always remember to first test iron settings on a small sample swatch of velvet or in an area on the garment or upholstered item that is not visible.
3. Set Up the Ironing Surface
Because mechanical pressure on velvet can flatten the pile, lay a needle board (pictured above) or a fluffy towel over your ironing surface to prevent this.
When the velvet surface comes into contact with the needle board or towel, it is less likely to flatten than if pressed onto a hard surface.
One other option for delicate velvet is to use another velvet fabric piece face side up over a towel as the pressing surface.
4. Place the Velvet Right Side Down
Avoid touching a hot iron directly to the pile of the velvet.
Thus, place velvet with the front, fluffy side down on your needle board or thick towel so you can iron from the back.
If you must press the right side of the fabric, consider a press cloth on top of the pile. This can be another scrap of velvet fabric or a pressing cloth made from organza, silk, or muslin, for example.
5. Pressing vs. Steaming Without Contact
Now that the surface is set up and the iron settings are solidified, proceed to iron the velvet. As mentioned earlier, some velvet can be pressed while others respond poorly to mechanical pressure.
This means you can either:
- Hover the iron 1/2″ above the back surface of the velvet, steaming the wrinkled areas and gently pressing out wrinkles with your finger after the iron is removed.
- Lift, lower, and lift the iron while applying the lightest possible pressure to the back surface.
Whether you’re physically pressing or just steaming, follow the direction of the velvet nap.
6. Press Velvet Seams Carefully
Pressing seams open after sewing velvet garments is one time you will press the right side of the fabric, which shows up in the seam allowance.
To press velvet seams without crushing the nap, use a medium-heat steam iron held 1/2″ above the fabric. After removing the iron, apply gentle pressure from your fingers to press open the seam. Consider wearing finger guards to prevent finger burns.
You can also use a seam roll (one of my favorite pressing tools!) to minimize seam impressions on a garment’s right side when pressing a seam. If seam impressions are still visible from the front, remove them with gentle steam from an iron or garment steamer to the right side of the fabric.
Even if your velvet can tolerate heat and iron contact, touch the seams only with the small toe of the iron!
Alternatives to Ironing Velvet
One alternative to ironing velvet to remove wrinkles is to use a garment steamer.
Especially if you need to iron velvet clothes after travel, a portable steamer can be a big help. Treat velvet no differently than you would any other delicate fabric when steaming.
One last alternative to revive the fluff of velvet after it’s been pressed incorrectly or to remove wrinkles is to hang your velvet clothing in the bathroom.
Fill the tubs and sinks with very hot water (or turn on the shower) to produce steam, and then close the door to trap it in. Over time, the velvet will be restored to its unwrinkled state!