Saturday, 6 December 2014

Sewing With Velvet: Pressing

Actually, never press velvet! Sounds crazy when you think about the fact that there is actually such a thing as a velvet press board.

A velvet press board is a wooden or canvas board covered with very fine, short, wire bristles. It is used so that the pile on the velvet fabric lays on top of the needles and "pressing" is done on the wrong side of the fabric. In this position the nap of the fabric can rest on the needles without the pile being crushed.  

In all my years of sewing, I have never come across a velvet pressing board. And I was around when these were all the rage.  

Velvet blazer, circa 1970s
The 1955 edition of Sew a Fine Seam clearly outlines how one is meant to be used.
Lay the velvet, pile down, against the wire board.  Lay a dry press cloth against the wrong side of the velvet.  Lay a damp cloth over this.  Bring a warm iron close to the damp cloth (do not rest the iron on the cloth). The steam will penetrate into the velvet and flatten seams or edges (Messer 82).  
Velvet pressing boards are not a relic of years-gone-by, they still exist and can be found for sale online for a king's ransom.   

Margaret Messer also mentioned a thing called a "velvet press kit" that were once found at sewing centres. Google the phrase velvet press kit and you'll discover it has a totally different meaning today. According to Messer, back in her day, it referred to a "specially prepared plush press pad and special press cloth." 

In the nineteen seventies there appears to be a name change. The 1976 edition of The Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing refers to pressing velvet with a "needleboard" as does the 1980 edition of Vogue Sewing

Into the next decade Roberta Carr uses the term "bristled press cloth" in the 1993 edition of Couture: The Art of Fine Sewing. She also mentions another product, June Tailor's "Velvaboard" used to protect the nap of velvet fabrics.  

Sandra Kelly wrote an article in The Victoria Advocate back in 1979 offering a cost saving alternative to a velvet pressing needleboard bristle pressing cloth ah, lets go with velvet pressing board.  Her suggestion is to use another fabric with a pile.  

I am both too cheap and lazy short on time to make a velvet pressing board to slip over my ironing board just so I can press some velvet. I'm going with a simple terry cloth draped over the ironing board and it seems to be working just fine.  

Happy Sewing!  

1 comment:

  1. I have a velvaboard knock off, but after seeing your photo of the original I think I might use my blending board for preparing spinning fibre. It is after all a board with lots of closely spaced little metal teeth!


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