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Ironing Velvet

Q: What is the best way to iron embossed velvet?
 -- Maureen Murphy, Pocasset, Massachusetts

The most important thing to know about caring for velvet is that you should never iron it. Doing so could crush the pile and do irreparable damage to any embossing. To eliminate wrinkles from velvet, gently steam the fabric using a hand steamer or the steam from an iron.

Most fabric stores carry a board coated in rough, coarse fabric (one common brand is Velvaboard) that is designed for steaming high-pile fabrics like velvet. To use the board, place the nap side of the velvet facedown on the board. With the steamer or iron on its lowest setting, test a small area of the velvet: Hold the steamer or iron at least a half inch above the fabric, and slowly pass it across the test area. Turn the fabric over, and inspect the nap side for any damage. Be especially careful with polyester velvet, which can be easily damaged by too much heat. If there are no problems, steam the rest of the fabric, gently pressing the fabric with your hands as you go. If you need to increase the steam to get results, do so in small increments. Don't let the steamer or iron pause over one area for too long.

For a double-sided velvet item, such as a scarf, clip the fabric to a skirt hanger, being sure to protect the clipped area with tissue. Test the velvet, as detailed above, and then begin steaming on one side. To help the process along, pull the bottom of the fabric gently as you pass the steam over it. When you've finished one side, you may find that you don't need to steam the other.

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