Velvet is a type of woven tufted fabric in which the cut threads are evenly distributed, with a short dense pile, giving it a distinct feel.
The word 'velvety' is used as an adjective to mean "smooth like velvet".
Velvet can be made from many different kinds of fibres. It is woven on a special loom that weaves two pieces of velvet at the same time. The two pieces are then cut apart and the two lengths of fabric are wound on separate take-up rolls. Velvet was expensive to make before industrial power looms became available. Velvet is difficult to clean because of its pile, but modern dry cleaning methods make cleaning more feasible.
Velvet pile is created by warp or vertical yarns and velveteen pile is created by weft or fill yarns.
Velvet is often made from silk. Velvet made entirely from silk has market prices of several hundred USD per yard.
Cotton can also be used, though this often results in a slightly less luxurious fabric. More recently, synthetic velvets have been developed, mostly polyester, nylon, viscose, acetate, and mixtures of different synthetics, or synthetics and natural fibers (e.g., viscose and silk). Velvet can also be made from fibers such as linen, mohair, and wool. A cloth made by the Kuba people of the Democratic Republic of Congo from raffia is often referred to as "Kuba velvet".
A small percentage of lycra is used sometimes to give stretch.
Velvet and Cashmere wool originated in Kashmir. Traditionally, velvet is associated with nobility. Velvet was introduced to Baghdad during the rule of Harun al-Rashid by Kashmiri merchants and to Al-Andalus by Ziryab. In the Mamluk era, Cairo was the world's largest producer of Velvet. Much of it was exported to Venice, Al-Andalus and the Mali Empire. Musa I of Mali, the ruler of the Mali Empire, visited Cairo on his pilgrimage to Mecca. Many Arab velvet-makers accompanied him back to Timbuktu. Later Ibn Battuta mentions how Suleyman (mansa) the ruler of Mali wore a locally produced complete crimson Velvet caftan on Eid. During the reign of Mehmed II, assistant cooks wore blue coloured dresses (câme-i kebûd), conical hats (külâh) and baggy trousers (çaksir) made from Bursa velvet.
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