Steaming velvet

Ever popular, velvet can be a difficult fabric to work with and maintain, but Propress Steamers have long been a staple of furniture and curtain makers, for over 40 years.

The gentle steam relaxes the fabric and enables the pile to be lifted, removing unsightly shading and bruising.

And the Propress Velvet Brush can be used in conjunction with the steam from either one of PRO Series professional steamers or the Propress MINI handheld steamer.

Steaming velvet is not just for manufacturers, but also for showrooms, curtain fitters and people just wanting to rejuvenate the pile on their sumptuous velvet sofa or curtains.

British Velvets pile up the praise for Propress Steamers

We recently caught up with Keith Prytharch, General Manager at British Velvets to talk us through the history of the company and how they have been incorporating Propress steamers into their business for over 30 years.

What is the history of British Velvets?

“British Velvets has been supplying high quality velvet for over 80 years and is the last remaining weaver of velvets in the UK for the soft furnishings, upholstery, and contract markets.

Established in 1932, the company traded for many years under the K Raymaker name based in the heart of Lancashire.  The company has changed ownership various times since then, but has since gone back to being privately owned in recent years, moving from Padiham to Burnley where the present and future weaving, warehousing and administration needs of the company are better met.

British Velvets has produced an extensive range of furnishing pile fabrics over its 80-year history, more recently focusing on curtain and upholstery cotton velvets – a specialist field brought to the UK by the company’s founders in the early 1920s.

The company continues to maintain the standards and principles of high-quality production in the manufacture of finishing velvets, using processes which have been handed down through the generations, whilst also incorporating modern touches to this time-honoured fabric. Whilst you may not have heard of them, it’s likely that you have sat on a sofa, chair or theatre seat upholstered using one of their velvets, or seen curtains made from our fabrics.”

Velvet is generally a dry clean only fabric, so we regularly recommend Propress products to customers as they are an essential part of helping to maintain our fabrics to keep them looking and feeling fresh. – Keith Prytharch General Manager at British Velvets

How do you use Propress Steamers and velvet brushes?

“British Velvets use Propress Steamers at exhibitions when displays have been packed away for shipment and need to look their very best and in a short amount of time when they arrive at the exhibition stand.

The Propress Steamers are fantastic at freshening up the fabric and removing any creases in super-fast time. The brush is a great additional tool which helps smooth out the velvets easily and efficiently.

Velvet is generally a dry clean only fabric, so we regularly recommend Propress products to customers as they are an essential part of helping to maintain our fabrics to keep them looking and feeling fresh.  To ensure our velvets arrive in prime condition, our products are despatched suspended in boxes, however sometimes pressure marks can be seen in the velvet which is impossible to prevent completely, so we find that a gentle steam and brushing with a velvet brush helps remove these marks quickly and easily.”

Do you have any tips or tricks to steaming velvet?

“With clothing, always go against the pile.  If working on furniture go with the pile, with both the steamer and brush. When steaming it is sometimes much easier to leave the steamer at a distance from the velvet, providing a constant source of steam to the area.

It’s also important to ensure that there are no twists or blockages in the pipe to avoid any spitting on to the velvet.   A top tip is to always take your time when steaming velvet as rushing and lack of care and attention can cause damage, which is obviously something to be avoided. The velvet brush really helps with the relaying of nap and is an essential tool in my opinion.”

What are the different types of velvet are there and who do you supply to?

“Velvets can be made with natural fibres or manmade material, predominantly with cotton or polyester in the pile. Polyester is a less expensive option as the IFR (Inherently Fire Retardant) polyesters tend not to need steaming as much as cotton, however they can mark quite easily so we usually work with the cotton mix.

We supply to over 50 countries worldwide and our customer base is made up of high-end wholesale and manufacturers, as well as high-end retail and online businesses.  We work extremely closely with some amazing well-known brands within the industry, which is something we’re immensely proud of and hope to continue for years to come.”

Interesting facts about velvet?

“We offer many different finishes to our velvet.  The chemical FR (Fire Retardant) finish has been the norm for many years but in recent times IFR (Inherently Fire Retardant) velvets have grown in demand and popularity.  Many flame retardant finishes are classed as non-durable, so they are not resistant to liquid or water, and therefore don’t hold up well to splashes from a water leak or a spilled drink.  However, as the manmade fibres improve in appearance, they are replacing chemically treated natural fibres in curtains and contract settings.

We offer velvets in hundreds of different colours, but the end use tends to dictate the popular shades – for example the theatre trade use more traditional colours such as red, whereas the domestic upholstery industry is heavily brand led and follows current fashions and trends.”

Environmental impact?

“All British Velvets products are dyed and finished within our own group, and we are proud to say that our dye house is a driving force and leading the way with its environmental policy. As a group we strive to reduce the impact our business has on the environment. Velvet can last for many years if cared for properly, and the use of steamers and brushes can help prolong its life immensely.”