Velvet

Sample of blue cloth decorated with flock flowers (mid-20th century, Europe; TRC 2017.0519). Sample of blue cloth decorated with flock flowers (mid-20th century, Europe; TRC 2017.0519).
Published in Velvet!

9. Some alternative velvets

There are various forms of textiles that are superficially related to velvet. These include warp and weft-piled weaves, as well as glued forms. The most common are:

Chenille

Chenille is the French word for a caterpillar and reflects the hairy nature of the material. Chenille is a form of tufted yarn that is created by weaving a piece of tabby weave cloth (the chenille blanket) with the warp ends grouped into sets, with a gap between the sets. The ‘blankets’ are then cut along the warp in order to make strips that can be used as a yarn. These strips are ‘hairy’ because of the cut weft threads. The chenille threads can then be re-woven into a velvet-like material.

Sample of flock (mid-20th century, Europe; TRC 2017.0517).Sample of flock (mid-20th century, Europe; TRC 2017.0517).

Corduroy

The word corduroy may derive from French cord du roi, meaning ‘king’s cord’. It is a strong durable fabric with vertical cut-pile stripes. It is woven with weft threads that float over three or more warp threads followed by a section of tabby or twill weave. After the cloth is woven the floats are cut, allowing them to form ridges or cords. Compare TRC 2018.2511 and TRC 2018.2512.

Fleece

A type of cloth with a thick, heavy, fleece-like surface. By the end of the 20th century the term fleece was associated with synthetic micro-fibres woven as a supplementary thread into a knitted ground. The extra thread is cut, thereby creating a compact, piled surface. Sometimes there is a pile on both sides of the cloth.

Detail of a woman's hat with a velvet ribbon and a plush ground (mid-20th century, Netherlands; TRC 2018.0572).Detail of a woman's hat with a velvet ribbon and a plush ground (mid-20th century, Netherlands; TRC 2018.0572).Flock

Flock is made from old rags, clippings or cloth waste, which is cut and then ground into very short fibres. Some form of adhesive is then applied to a surface (paper, cloth, leather, etc) and the flock scattered over it. This produces a textured surface that superficially looks like a velvet. Compare also TRC 2017.0518, TRC 2017.0219, TRC 2017.0520, TRC 2017.0521, TRC 2017.0522, and TRC 2017.0523.

Plush

The term plush derives from the French word peluche, meaning plush or fluff (Latin: pilus). It is a warp pile fabric with a cut pile surface that is significantly longer than a velvet pile and less closely woven. Compare TRC 2018.0572, and TRC 2018.0574.

Terry towelling

Terry towelling or terry cloth is a woven fabric with a loop pile on one or both sides. The loops are in the warp and left uncut. The loops are much longer and more loosely woven than with velvet.