Mohair Velvet for Upholstery

Blue Velvet Chaise
Black mohair velvet upholstery on a regal chair
Black mohair velvet upholstery on a regal chair

Mohair velvet is a fabric much sought after by interior designers. It is sold in a wide range of qualities and is sometimes used as a generic term for velvets when, in fact, there are very many differing and sometimes superior compositions available than just those made with ‘mohair’.

Velvet is a type of tufted fabric woven with a warp pile. It has a short dense pile of 3mm or less (‘plush’ has a pile longer than 3mm) and a distinctive feel. During production wires lift the yarn creating small loops which are either cut or left depending on the desired finish. Velvets tend to take colour very well and also tend to be hard-wearing with a high degree of suitability for varied uses; they were typically hard to clean but that problem is mostly solved with modern dry-cleaning.

What’s in a velvet?

Kashmir was probably the birth-place of velvet in the early 1300s but by the 16th Century Bruges had become the leading source of what at the time was a definitive luxury item. Luxury velvets are still made in Europe as well as in Asia.

The original velvets were typically silk velvet. With the passing of time and increasing technical sophistication it has become easily possible to make velvets from many natural and synthetic yarns. At KOTHEA we have velvets at the top end of the quality range made from fine yarns including Linen Velvet, Cashmere-Silk Velvet, Linen Velvet, Cotton Velvet, Wool Velvet and of course Mohair Velvet. Other velvets available in the market have compositions that include polyester, nylon, viscose, acetate or mixtures. Sometimes small amounts of lycra are included to give the fabric stretch.

Fabric Treatment Companies – FR Flameproofing

silk velvet upholstery fabric textile FR Martindale RubsWe are often asked to recommend farbic treatment companies for flame retarding in contract installations. Most treatment comapanies offer other services such as; back coating fabric for walls, and stain resistance/repellency. There are several such companies in the UK and at various times we have used all of the following:

Essex Flameproofing,

Textiles FR, and

TEK Treatments

Just click the company name to take you to their web site. Please feel free to add comments to this posting recommending any suppliers you have used but any negative comments about other companies are not permitted on this site. Thank you.

A Chat With Verity du Sautoy – Her Thoughts On Winter Fabrics

Luxury Silk velvet From KOTHEA
Truly beautiful Cashmere Silk Velvet by KOTHEA

KOTHEA Fabric Picks For A Chilly Winter’s Day
With Verity du Sautoy of KOTHEA.

We love the seasons. All have their beauties and all have touched our senses in memorable ways over the years. Winter is no exception: lower, more balanced light; quietness and chaos with both the shopping and the weather; festive celebrations; the cuddle of a loved one; the hope and expectation of early spring flowers grasping for rare and tiny glimmers of light; and, perhaps, the welcomed warmth of a beautiful fabric.

Some of my best memories are centred on family: a warm fire; a little baby; or a bouncing toddler. Then an old children’s classic on the iPlayer watched on my Mac as it balances precariously on an elegant coffee table. I stroke my children’s hair with one hand and rest my other hand on my sofa. A generous cushion is warm, encapsulating and a bit of fun for the little ones to hide under. The curtains are not yet fully drawn but they smooth the boundary to the cold outside and give us tantalising glimpses of the world beyond – should we venture too close to the sheers that offer the final, soft protection from the elements.

Liberty Art Fabrics Collection £21.00/m
Dominika B Tana Lawn

I work for a fabric company. I love fabric. I can’t pretend that it (fabric) is a be-all and end-all to life and that somehow it will make your life complete. It can’t. But what it clearly can do is complete the sensory experiences in the parts of life that, if you choose, you have control over…the parts of your home. Memories are not just photo-like snapshots in your brain; they are stored, multi-sensory splashes of emotion.

Here are my Winter picks. They are actual ‘picks’ that I’ve recently purchased or are about to purchase.

Take my sofa as an example. My sofa isn’t Continue reading “A Chat With Verity du Sautoy – Her Thoughts On Winter Fabrics”

Upholstery Velvet – Sourcing Luxury Velvet (Mohair) in The UK

Luxury Mohair Velvet For Upholstery
Luxury Mohair Velvet For Upholstery

Luxury Upholstery Velvet is notoriously difficult for interior designers to consistently source. Sourcing a generic velvet is easy enough but often velvets vary greatly in quality with many being relatively cheap and scoring relatively well with Martindale results but they just look ‘cheap’. The look and feel of the velvet are, after all, two of several important reasons why you are specifying it in the first place.

A further problem is the composition. When, for example, you say you want a Mohair Velvet that is what you want: a velvet made out of Mohair and NOT lots of other things PLUS a bit of Mohair.

Whilst Mohair velvets are generally very good across the market they too can vary significantly in quality. So even when you buy a Mohair Velvet you are not necessarily getting the durable, luxury, fantastic looking product that you hoped for.

Further complications come when looking at Velvets made of a mix of yarns. Well some of the mixed fibre yarns too are actually excellent in quality!

So I guess I’m saying that there really is no sure and fast way of knowing that what you are buying without actually seeing the fabric AND being assured of its technical characteristics, notably Martindale as we are considering upholstery here.

Most KOTHEA luxury upholstery velvets have inherent Martindale rub tests of in excess of 20,000 rubs with several collections exceeding 100,000 rubs fo rcontract usage – 20,000 Martindale being eminently suitable for domestic upholstery.

In addition to non-velvet, textured upholstery we have many luxury velvets suitbale for upholstery including Italian Silk Velvet (high quality, luxury velvet), Cashmere & Silk Velvet (the ultimate velvet), trevira Velvet (inherent fire retardancy), Mohair Velvet (high quality, luxury velvet),

Most of our velvet is available by the metre with no minimum quantities.

Fabric Tips #13: Velvet Curtain Making

Image by tenz1225 via Flickr

Here are some additional pointers to consider when you are making a curtain using a velvet. Remember that a velvet is just a type of fabric and the fibre(s) that the velvet is made from is important.

So for example we would always recommend that you line a curtain. This gives a superior appearance but also reduced the amount of light going through the fabric hence limiting as much as possible the effect of any fading.

If the velvet has a pile that can be flattened in one direction then we would recommend that you have the pile going downwards for SHINY velvet fabrics and PATTERNED VELVETS.

If however you make up the curtain with the pile upwards then this will deepen the colour so you cold make the curtains this way for cotton velvets and Trevira Velvet and Mohair velvets.

These are general guidelines and it is not necessarily wrong if you make up the curtain ‘the other way’ just so long as you understand the implications to the finished look and performance of the material.

Fabric Tips #11: Mohair Velvet – How To Store

Alpaca-wool can be made into luxurious alpaca velvet
Image via Wikipedia - Alpaca Wool can be made into luxurious alpaca velvet...if you can find it

How to store Velvet.

The same instructions apply to all velvets.

Some background first: As an interior designer you buy and handle many fabrics. You may have wondered why some fabrics come in rolls of up to 100m whereas other come in much smaller lengths. Is this because of their value? The likelihood of them being sold quickly enough? Or perhaps longer lengths of some fabrics would be just to heavy for someone in a warehouse to physically carry or indeed too heavy for a courier to carry? Or perhaps it’s something to do with the thickness of the roll?

Well there is some truth no doubt in all of these reasons and others to. But one very important consideration with a velvet and especially with a Mohair velvets is the weight of the fabric and the weight of the fabric ON ITSELF. Because velvets have a pile they are thicker and heavier than other fabrics as they contain more material; similarly some velvets such as many mohair velvets have a dense pile…again more fabric and more weight.

There comes a point when the sheer weight of the roll of fabric becomes too much for the pile of the first part of the wrapped fabric on the roll and the inherent weight of all the fabric can cause damage to the pile. So velvets and especially mohair velvets have smaller lengths on the roll. Sometimes 25m but sometimes also 40m and 50m per roll.

So the length of fabric on a roll will be impacted by the weight of the fabric per linear metre AND the fact that a pile fabric can be more affected by added weight than other fabric.

So, how to store.

1. Store horizontally

2. Store with no other, external weight applied to the fabric.

3. Covered up to avoid exposure to dirt and dust i the air  -especially if stored for long periods

Typically you will find that many of our velvets come to you in special containers where the velvet is on a roll and suspended by special cardboard ends in the boxes. For small volumes of velvet on a single roll there is often no need for these special containers. Where the velvets are supplied in suspended roll containers it is safe to store the velvet in this form. Ideally youwould have a horizontal racking system for rolls of fabric as lengths can easily be cut off as and when you need them but cleary most interior designers do not have this facility.

The safest method of course is to let your supplier hold the stock and order cut lengths from them. It de-risks you damaging the fabric. Unless of course the supplier can specifically reserve entire rolls just for you, you would have the potential problem of dye lot or batch variation of colour with many fabric dyes. There would normally be a charge for an additional service such as this.

Mohair Velvet & Other Velvets

Silk Velvet Upholstery Fabric TextileMohair Velvet is a type of fabric made from Mohair Wool. It is usually used for upholstery. A velvet is a fabric that is made in a certain way usually ending up with a pile; importantly it can be made from many different fibres including mixtures of fibres.

Mohair Velvet – A velvet made from natural Mohair Wool. Typically durable with high Martindale rub test results. Natural fibres give a degree of inherent fire retardancy.

Cotton velvet – A velvet made from natural cotton

Linen Velvet – a velvet made from natural linen typically an excellent domestic upholstery velvet.

Silk Velvet – Potentially beautiful and amazing velvet fabric made from silk but a high degree of quality variation across manufacturers.

CS Trevira – Made from synthetic Trevira. Excellent contract velvet.

Cashmere Silk Velvet – Extremely high quality luxury fabric. Mix of two natural fibres ie Cashmere Wool and Silk. Combines beauty with durability.

Vicuna Silk Velvet – Extremely high quality and rare luxury fabric. Rarely available as an interiors fabric.

Cotton & Silk Velvet – A less expensive way to strengthen the beauty of the silk with the strength of cotton. Cotton being cheaper than Cashmere wool for example!

Note also that a velvet is made with a back cloth material. It is not unusual for an extremely fine top market velvet to have a 100% cotton back cloth.

Black Velvet – Even Better Italian Silk Velvet In Black

Black Velvet – only to be enjoyed by those who appreciate that black is the new black! KOTHEA have a range of velvets with shades of black colourways in most of those velvet collections.

Black Diamond” is the colourway name for the Italian Silk Velvet (100% Silk Pile) with the code 777-108-900.

You can get black silk velvet samples here from KOTHEA if you are a trade professional. Just click the link.

KOTHEA velvets are the best in the market. We only sell top market fabrics, mostly to top European Interior Designers and Architects. Here are some more bits of technical information on our black Italian Silk velvet fabric:

Width: 140cm

Composition: 100% Silk Pile

No repeat, plain.

Abrasion: Martindale 20,000.

Available from stock, normal delivery within 5 days.

Minimum Order length: 2m

Silk Velvet Production Problems

We have recently had to change most of our Velvet production to mills in Europe. Along with some other fabric companies, we have been experiencing quality issues with Chinese produced silk velvet. It’s probably only happening at one or two mills but it has been a big headache for us as we have had to return some significant orders due to less than perfect quality issues. And it’s sometimes hard to get the mills to accept returns that are of OK quality but not excellent.

Anyway, just a heads-up. Check where your silk velvet is being manufactured and double check the quality.

Vicuna Silk Velvet (Vicugna) – Better Than Cashmere Silk Velvet?

Silk Velvet Fabric Upholstery Fabric Martindale Rub TestCashmere Silk Velvet is one of the world’s most luxurious fabrics. But is it THE most luxurious? Now this is a good question! and a little tricky to answer.

Perhaps the most expensive yarn is from the vicuña (vicuna, vicugna), which is a camel-like animal found in the high alpine areas of the South American Andes. Whilst not an endangered species it is a rare animal and difficult to farm as it tends to escape!

Cashmere yarn comes from the cashmere goat and other goats such as the pashmina goat.

Cashmere and Vicuna have an outer layer of hair which is coarse and rough but protective for the animal. This is the guard hair. Underneath the guard hair is a warm layer of much, much softer hair. This underlayer consists of hollow-fibred hair that is an excellent insulator. The vicuna has the finest of these fibres of any (resultant) wool anywhere in the world.

About 400g of yarn can be produced from one Vicuna compared to 150g from the Cashmere goat, the latter being a smaller animal. There are many more Cashmere goats in the world and I suspect this is why Cashmere is relatively affordable – as it is produced in much larger volumes in a more competitive market.

As an indication a Vicuna scarf would cost in excess of US$1000. As far as I know it is not produced in sufficient quantities to be available in a suitable form for interiors use (I could be wrong). But if it were it could be woven with silk to produce THE MOST EXPENSIVE AND BEST woolen silk velvet in the world. A further problem is that the Vicuna fibre can readily be damaged when dyed, again making significant production quantities problematic.

Now, as much of the Cashmere yarn produced comes from China, Australia and other countries…in fact just about anywhere other than Kasmir! it strikes me that is an opporutnity waiting to happen for some illustrious, economically-minded, goat breeder out there with friends in the textiles industry. If the production problems could be overcome I could see that there still would be a market for an interiors fabric retailing at in excess of GBP800/m  (US£1300/yard) – albeit a small one.

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