Burnout Velvet
by Shannon Gifford
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  • Burnout Velvet

    Burnout velvet is, quite simply put, beautiful. The fabric is created by cutting away surface pile from velvet in specific areas, leaving a sheer backing visible behind the outer velvet design. The velvet design of the fabric may be floral, geometric, or abstract. This fabric has many properties of sheers; be sure to read the guide regarding silk sheers for additional information that may be pertinent to your piece of fabric.


    Dry-cleaning is recommended for this fabric.

    Needles and Thread:

    Use a universal 70/10 needle for stitching this fabric. Silk thread is an elegant choice, but may be difficult to find. Use an all cotton thread labeled "embroidery cotton" for construction. You may use a rayon or wooly nylon for special seam finishes or decorative designs.

    Seams, Seam Finishes, and Hems:

    Think small. Use a 1.5 or 2.0 length for standard seams. Seam finishes are best if they are small and unobtrusive. Use a small French seam for most of your construction for the most elegant seam finish. If you have a serger, you can use a 3-thread balanced stitch for seam finishes; adjust the width of your serged finish to be as small as you can easily handle. For hems, use a rolled hem on the serger, using decorative threads if you like. If you do not own a serger, make your hem a bit deeper than you would use for a non-pile sheer. If using a folded hem of this type, I like a 1 inch hem, and I prefer to bind the hem edge with rayon seam binding or bias-cut thin fabric strips. Another good hem treatment is a facing made from a coordinating sheer. This will eliminate the possibility of show-through from the inside of the garment. Use the same sheer you use for interfacing to make this facing.


    Sew-in interfacings are the best choice for burnout velvets. Use silk organza or cotton organdy in a compatable color for interfacing, or, in a pinch, you can use a synthetic sheer cut on the bias.

    Pattern Suggestions:

    Tunics, shirts, blouses, tops, shirred or gathered details, ruffles, flounces, draped details, dresses, skirts, evening pants, formalwear, scarves.

    Creative Possibilities:

    Add beading or sequins to dress up your burnout velvet for formalwear. Pair your burnout with other fabrics of a similar weight, such as sheers, for interest in your garment. Use the burnout for the body of the garment, then use a coordinating lace or sheer for the sleeves.

    Additional Tips:

    Use a light touch when working with delicate silks. If you have difficulty controllling this fabric when stitching, use a layer of lightweight tear-away stabilizer between the fabric and the feed dogs. Gently pull the stabilizer away after stitching.

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