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Emboss Velvet With Rubber Stamps and a Household Iron

Embossed velvet is striking and beautiful. Images are sunk into the pile of the velvet so that you get a textural as well as visual effect. The images often also take on an iridescent quality.

Embossing velvet is easier than one might think...

The embossed images are created using heat, producing sunken and iridescent images that can appear shadowy or very reflective depending upon the angle and the folds and fall of the fabric — that is why it can be so tricky to photograph them. Parts of an image may appear "shadowed" while other parts shimmer.

The images are resilient. I have embossed acetate/rayon velvet scarves that I have worn all winter long for several years. They get wet from snow, sleet and rain; get scrunched up, rolled up, sat upon, etc., and the images are still there, even if they are not as crisp as they used to be. I am not recommending this type of treatment, but mention it to give an idea of how the images can last.

It appears that impressing images into velvet using heat may have been around since at least the 16th century. Metal was heated and pressed to the velvet. In the 1990's, Mary O'Neil of Hot Potatoes stamps popularized the use of rubber stamps for the process. For use at home, rubber stamps are obviously easier and safer to use than hot metal.

Care of the resulting velvet: Dry clean only. As with most velvets, the fabric may develop shiny spots if spot-treated or excessively rubbed. Washing/soaking the velvet could result in an uneven look to the velvet (shiny and dark areas) and could loosen the pressed fibers of the images, causing them to appear ghostly and blurry.

Uses for Embossed Velvet: Embossed velvet can be used for clothing and accessories (jackets, bags/purses, scarves, shawls, robes, shirts, dresses, skirts, hats, earmuffs, mittens, cowls, slippers, etc.), as well as items for the home and gifts (throws, curtains, pillows, sachets, runners, wall hangings, upholstery, boxes, ornaments, jewelry and gift bags, journal covers, etc.).

More info and images on my site: . Images are also up on Flickr . My partner and I designed all of the stamps shown in this tutorial. They are available on our website.

Text and images are copyrighted by Inklings and Imprints. All rights reserved.

What You Will Need

- Iron (with Teflon iron shoe/cover, if possible). A clean, smooth and relatively steam-hole free surface area is best.

- Velvet: acetate/rayon blend is best. Rayon, silk/rayon blend or silk can work. (I have more info on what types of velvet work best and what safety issues there may be with certain velvets.)

- Water misting/spritzing bottle

- Stamp backed with mounting cushion at least 1/8 inch thick, no mounting block needed. Notes on stamps . The stamp used in this tutorial is our Celtic Knotwork Triangle Stamp. We have it available trimmed and mounted on cling cushion, as shown — full or partial sets — or as uncut and unmounted full or partial sets.

- Iron-safe surface

Always do some test swatches for each type of velvet you use so you can vary spritzing, iron temperature, etc.

Heat the Iron

Heat iron to the cotton or wool setting. NO STEAM. To be safe, empty any water out of the iron.

Dampen the Stamp and Velvet

There are two ways to dampen the stamp and velvet — see below. Both work well and it may just be a matter of preference. I personally find that the first method produces more consistently crisp images and allows me to avoid dampening previously embossed areas of the velvet, which can result in cloudiness and tufting in those areas. With either method, you may find that you need less water than you would think — coverage of all areas of the stamp is most important.

1. Lightly spritz the stamp itself. You can wipe your hand across the stamp so that all parts are dampened, without large droplets, and tap the stamp sideways on a surface to expel droplets from between the raised parts of the image.

Place the stamp, image-side up, on the ironing surface. — Image 1

Place the velvet, pile-side down, over the stamp. — Image 2


2. Place the stamp, image-side up, on the ironing surface.

Place the velvet, pile-side down, over the stamp. — Image 3

Lightly and evenly mist the back of the velvet where it covers the stamp. Avoid getting a concentration in any one spot. — Image 4


Press the iron on the velvet over the area that covers the stamp. Avoid having iron steam holes positioned against the stamp. Keep the iron flat. If you have a clean and smooth iron surface (a Teflon iron cover helps), a little sliding back and forth or side to side across the stamp can help you get crisper images and reduce the visibility of marks from holes in the iron plate or iron cover. It is important to ensure that the iron is kept parallel to the ironing surface, that no movement causes the velvet to shift in relation to the stamp, and that the iron covers all parts of the stamp at all times.

Press for 10–20 seconds.

Pull Iron Up and Check for Wet Spots

Pull the iron up, keeping it parallel to the ironing surface.

If your velvet sticks to the iron, then the iron setting is too high for the type of velvet you have. Adjust.

If you see any wet spots through the velvet, lightly set the iron down again to dry it out. Wet spots can dry into 'shiny' spots that reflect light and detract from the impact of the image on a cleaner field of velvet.

Check the Image

Once there are no wet spots, carefully lift a corner of the velvet to see how the image took. If you feel it needs longer, carefully lower the velvet back onto the same area of the stamp and press again, perhaps even lightly misting again beforehand.


"Voila!" (or "Viola!")

Embossed velvet can be dry-cleaned. Do not wash. Saturation can loosen the pressed fibers and muddy or erase the images. That said, I've used embossed velvet scarves as my winter scarves and have been impressed by how well they have withstood scrunching, rain and snow for years. Of course, velvet will look better if not subjected to this treatment.


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