Tips for Sewing Velvet

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I love Halloween time! I look forward to it every year because I love making over the top costumes.

Over the years my kids have come up with some really unique and crazy ideas, some that leave me scratching my head as to how to make it work, but I love the challenge!

Like when my son was a toddler and wanted to be a truck. I wasn’t sure how to pull it off at first, but some cardboard, duct tape, and some touch lights later he was driving his little excavator (complete with candy scoop)!

Yellow and black truck costume

And then there was the year my kid wanted to be a volcano. ….Okay. I’ll make it work. I think. I’ll admit, we had to answer A LOT of “And what are you?” questions that year, but he thought he was awesome.

I love things that light up, so when I was asked to make a robot, I was super excited. He even had a candy slot.

Orange light up robot costume

And I can’t forget last year’s squirrel. Although after realizing how sweaty you get after spending a night walking around in a full faux fur suit, I don’t know that he’s ever going to ask to be something fuzzy again.

Fuzzy gray squirrel costume

So I was kind of disappointed when they both asked me to be wizards this year. We recently finished the Harry Potter series, so I can’t say I’m surprised, but I was really hoping for something a little more different. Something with lights! Something a little crazy. (I’m secretly waiting for the year they ask me for something requiring elaborate armor or weapons. I’m dying to try out some cosplay techniques!)

But they’re my kids and I love them so I’m always going to make them what they want. I was a little bit surprised by the lack of wizard costume patterns. With the popularity of Harry Potter I should have expected that nearly everything out there is Hogwarts and Dumbledore, but I guess I expected there to be more than one pattern for a generic wizard.

I ended up modifying Simplicity 1583 to better fit what I was looking for and used velvet because I think the soft and shimmery properties are perfect for a mystical wizard. Today I’m sharing some tips about working with velvet!

Cutting

  • Velvet has an obvious nap (aka the fuzzy hairs). Run your hand along the fabric: when you rub down it’ll feel soft and up will feel rough. Lay out your pattern pieces so the nap is all going in the same direction. Down feels softer and up makes the color look deeper. Either works and is mostly a design choice – just stay consistent.
  • Cut only in single layers because velvet tends to shift easily. Remember to flip the pattern when you need mirrored pieces!
  • Because of the last two tips you’ll likely have to figure out your own layout for cutting. I usually play around with the pieces until I find the best layout with the least waste. Take a quick picture so you can remember how you did it!
  • Cut with the wrong side facing up
  • It’s kind of messy, so have a vacuum handy! (Probably a good idea to clean out your sewing machine when you’re done too!)

Sewing

  • Use tailor’s tacks to mark your fabric

Tailor's tack on blue velvet

  • There’s a few different ways to hold the fabric together when sewing:
    • Temporary basting spray
    • Hand basting
    • Lots and lots of pins

Blue velvet with lots of pins

  • Loosen tension
  • Loosen foot pressure
  • Use a walking foot
  • Stitch in the direction of the nap
  • Allow to hang overnight before hemming
  • Always sew a test piece before starting!
  • Velvet doesn’t take to seam ripping well so try not to make any mistakes! Measure twice, sew once!

Ironing

  • Never press the iron directly to the fabric!
  • Use only steam on the wrong side of the fabric and finger press
  • To avoid crushing the pile, steam the fabric over a terry towel

 

Here’s the one of the finished wizards!

Blue velvet wizard costume with stars

I told him to give me his most impressive wizard pose

I saw these adorable star sequins and totally impulse bought them. And then spent hours hand sewing the little buggers on. Totally worth it though.

Gold trim and stars on blue velvet wizard hat

Now just one more wizard costume to go!

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