- Hi to all the newcomers - welcome to the zoo. =)
Actually you can wash certain velvets. I would think
if you're going to use this devore process on it -
you'd have to wash the velvet first to remove any
starch or sizing in the material.
If you want to know if a fabric is washable - get
yourself a 6 inch square piece of it - preferably with
a selvage edge on one side. You want to be able to
tell the warp threads from the woof threads after it's
washed. Lay the piece of material down on a sheet of
notebook paper and careful trace around it - marking
on the paper which side is the selvage edge or the
warp. Then throw your piece of velvet into the
washer. It's a good idea to put it in a lingerie bag
so it doesn't get sucked out with the rinse water. If
you want to wash it - I'd use something like Woolite.
You don't want any strong detergents or anything with
bleach in it. If you have a delicate cycle on your
dryer - then dry the piece of velvet. If not - set
your dryer on its lowest setting and keep checking on
the velvet to make sure when it's just dry. Take it
out promptly. Unless your velvet is all natural - too
hot a dryer will damage the fiber.
Take the washed/dryed square of velvet back to the
piece of notebook paper and line up one corner on the
selvage edge. You'll be able to tell if the fabric
has shrunk and if so in which direction - warp or
woof. Also by comparing your washed piece with a
non-washed piece you'll be able to see how color fast
the velvet is.
The proceeding can be used for any kind of material.
What you're checking for is shrinkage, direction of
shrinkage, and color fastness.
As for finding out what fibers your velvet is made
out of. You do a burn test. Most fabric stores don't
know what their fabric is made out of, and even if
they do it doesn't hurt to doublecheck.
To check your velvet you need to get some pile fibers
separate from some of the backing fabric. (Do your
burn test over or in a large sink or bathtub. And NO
WHERE near anything flamable. If you have long hair -
pull it back in a ponytail.) You can use a candle. A
little votive candle will work just fine. And get
yourself an old pair of tweezers - you do not want to
be trying to hold onto a small bunch of fibers while
they're burning. Synthetic fibers burn in a different
way from natural fibers. Most synthetics - polyester,
acetate, nylon and the like will burn and melt with a
distinctive scent. The naturals - cotton, linen and
rayon will burn and leave a fine ash and tend to smell
like burning paper. Silk burns with a distinctive
faint burning hair smell because it's an organic
fiber. (Wool is the stuff that really smells like
burning hair - yuck.) It's been several years since I
took Textiles in college and I've forgotten what kind
of ash - silk leaves. (Brief pause - just went into
bedroom and found my old Textiles textbook.) Silk
burns as follows - "smolders approaching flame", "in
the flame it burns, melts slowly and sputters",
"removed from the flame it supports combustion with
difficulty; ceases flaming", "it's odor is like
burning feathers or hair, but less pronounced then
wool", and "its ash is round, crisp, shiny black
beads; easily crushed." The proceeding was taken from
"Textiles: Fiber to Fabric" the fourth edition by
Potter and Corbman.
Okay, the following is a brief list of burning
synthetic fiber scents - again taken from
"Textiles:Fiber to Fabric."
Acetate - "like vinegar"
Acrylics - "some like burning meat, some with a sharp
sweet smell, and some like tumeric."
Nylon - "somewhat like celery"
Polyesters - "Dacron is slightly sweetish", "Kodel is
like faintly burning pine tar"
Rayons - "tend to smell like burning paper"
Okay, my textbook is old - 1967, so there probably
are fibers and fabric finishes that I don't know about
and that may and will change what a fiber burns like
and how it smells. But the above should give you a
I hope that was of some assistance and not too
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>IfWoolite is nasty stuff, and actually very harsh. Cheap baby shampoo is
>you want to wash it - I'd use something like Woolite.
>You don't want any strong detergents or anything with
>bleach in it.
better. (A VietNamese woman told me there are no dry cleaners in VietNam,
so she always used cheap baby shampoo, with great success.)
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