Embossed Velvet

by Bonnie Sabel

 

 

Ahhh, when Franki emailed in December to ask if I would write the article
for (mid-) January, it sounded like a long way off… and here I am, the day of
the deadline, searching for the velvet I know I bought about two years ago!
Okay, in my defense, I’ve moved twice in two years, once only two months ago.

Which brings me to a discussion of Resolutions. You knew there couldn’t be
an article for January without discussing Resolutions! One of the reasons I am
so in love with quilted postcards is that they present such an easy forum to
experiment with designs or new techniques… such a small investment of time
and materials can provide a rich experience. So my Resolution for the year is
to try one new technique each month. Well, we feel like we try new things every
time we create, but I’m going to take this seriously enough to actually
identify for myself what the new technique for that month is, and give it a
whirl. If it doesn’t work out, and it ends up in the recycle bin, at least I’ve
treated myself to the experience. It’s like adding tools to my tool kit, with
each new experience.

About two years ago I visited a wonderful rubber stamp store. I had gone
there to look at ribbons and sew-on embellishments to use on postcards, but
while I was there, I saw a sample of embossed velvet. A natural fit, since they
of course sold lots of rubber stamps. It intrigued me enough that I actually
went to the fabric store and bought a quarter yard of rayon velvet.

I read several sets of instructions on the web, and while they varied in
some ways, they all agreed that an iron without holes for steam is best. I kept
my eyes open and even found an old Westinghouse iron without any steam holes at
the Goodwill. I think this one was from the 50’s or 60’s, but they also have
little travel irons with a stainless steel soleplate and no steam vents, from time to time.
Then these supplies and tools stayed tucked away in my sewing room for
“someday.”

“Someday” arrived today, and it’s been a totally fun experience.
Why have I not done this sooner?!!

As I mentioned, I researched the technique on the web. I went to google and
searched for “how to” + “embossed velvet”. A number of
articles popped up.

RAYON Velvet:  Everyone seems to be in agreement that getting
RAYON velvet is the way to go.

Spray water bottle:  Some instructions coached to mist onto the
front of the velvet, and some instructions coached to mist onto the back of the
velvet. I found that a light mist on BOTH sides of the fabric worked best for
me and my iron.

Rubber stamp(s):  The rubber stamp store, where I had seen the
first example of this craft, recommended that the rubber stamp should have some
pretty solid areas, not just fine detail. I chose three of my stamps for this
experiment, a dragonfly, a fern, and a leaf. I decided to cover my ironing board with a Teflon pressing sheet, and then laid the rubber stamps flat on top
of that.

All of the articles seemed to recommend a WOOL setting for the iron, but the
pressing time ranged from 10 to 30 seconds. I do think it’s worth experimenting, as the different times gave me different results. I lean more toward “20 to 30″ seconds.

All of the instructions recommend that once the velvet has been moved, that
you do not try to re-do the embossing. On my third impression (the dragonfly
again), the 10-15 seconds gave almost no impression at all. Since I figured
that portion of velvet would be tossed anyway, I tried to re-do it. Even though
the second try didn’t line up perfectly, I’m not as inclined to toss it out…
it sort of appears to have a shadow.

I decided to use the fern impression to make a postcard. I layered two
pieces of Warm N Natural batting, and Peltex 72, and then used a green rayon
thread to outline quilt on the stems of the fern. For the most part, the
stitching is buried in the velvet and doesn’t show, but it does create a loft
which causes the embossing to really show well. My camera had trouble taking a
good photo of the velvet.

For a quick-and-easy edging, I used an open knit fabric that I had purchased
at Jo-Ann a few years ago, just prior to Halloween. It has wavy lines of
almost-holographic blue and green on a black background. Since it did not ravel
on any of the edges, I just took a one-inch wide strip of it and zigzagged it
on to the edge of the postcard, leaving the raw edges loose. The looseness
causes the blues and greens in the knit to catch the light better than if it
had been stitched flat.

I’m quite pleased with the postcard and the experience. I’ll definitely play
with this technique again.

Its not too late to make a resolution for 2008 to try a new technique each
month. Even if you don’t find this article until mid-year, you could still
begin today!

Bonnie Sabel lives in Vancouver, Washington, and is the author of Positively Postcards.  Her website is www.quilted-postcards.com