In the past there has been some controversy surrounding the existence of velvet in earlier centuries. Velvet has in fact been around as early on as 2000BC. The Egyptians were documented using a technique similar to the one that is utilized today in velvet production. Throughout the centuries from the medieval era through the renaissance into the flapper rage and still today velvet is being used in a variety of ways. In earlier times only royalty and nobility could afford to own garments of velvet. It requires more yarns to create and a number of extra steps in the process, which adds to the expense of velvet garments. It was also common for supplementary sets of yarns to be placed on the surface of the fabric to create a brocade effect making the design intricate and interesting. As the nobility knew and we can still see today some of the richest colors can be produced when dying velvet. It has only been in this century that velvet has become affordable to the masses. The industrial revolution brought with it the chance for the common person to experience luxury that was for centuries reserved for royalty and the rich.


The most common type of velvet is a plain weave with a cut pile. It is soft, comes in deep, rich colors and is typically used in formal or eveningwear. This type of velvet generally retails between $16 and $25 a yard (the price may vary depending on quality and location). Velvet is also commonly used in interior design applications from curtains to upholstery to accent pillows. A common type of upholstery is cut velvet, which has a pattern cut out from around uncut loops of pile. Crushing the velvet pile can produce two additional types of velvet, crushed velvet and pann velvet. Crushed velvet involves the fabric being mechanically twisted while wet. Applying heavy pressure to the pile in one direction produces pann velvet. Crushed velvet is also found in interior applications but is often used in apparel as well. For upholstery purposes crushed velvet can have a coated backing applied to provide stability. When being used in apparel the texture of the crushed velvet creates a beautiful luster effect and the direction of the pile can also be used to provide various looks from the same piece of fabric.

Although they are made the same as true velvet the pile depth differs.

Velveteen: A pile fabric that generally has a shorter pile than true velvet.

Velour: A cotton fabric that has a deeper pile than velveteen and is heavier in weight. It is commonly used in upholstery and draperies.

Knit fabrics can now be made to resemble types of velvet, allowing for the stretch and comfort that we enjoy in todays clothing. Pann velvet is often found as a knit. Garments are often mislabeled in catalogs as velvet when they are really knits. Even though they may look the similar, knits are not true velvets.