Sunday, February 22, 2015

Burning out velvet

One of our members recently attempted to burn out her own velvet. These are her experiences.

Burning out velvet
by Sandi Dreer

OMG! I'm going to be destroying this fabric! Who in their right or wrong mind would deliberately do this to velvet? Lovely, sumptuous velvet?


My youngest daughter's latest costume from an episode of Doctor Who demanded that the velvet be burned out. And it couldn't be purchased already burned out because the burnout appears on all the gores of the gown. In lovely points in each gore. And above the hem by about an inch. The velvet used for this project was a Chinese silk velvet that is made up from 23% silk fibers and 77% rayon.

My first step was scouring the internet and finding one (yes, just one) tutorial on burning out velvet. But that tutorial directed me to Dharma Trading and a product they carry called "Fiber Etch".

Just like glass etching takes off a layer of glass, Fiber Etch removes the silk fibers from silk velvet. There is a great video to watch on the Dharma Trading website too. Fiber Etch is a heat activated product.

Steps in using Fiber Etch
  1. Use in a well ventilated area as the product does have an odor. I thought it was a slight odor but it could be stronger for different people. Plus, this is a chemical, so follow all the precautions.
  2. Cover your work area. We used my cutting table and taped some waxed paper on it. This prevented any chemicals from possibly hurting my cutting table.
  3. Use a paint brush you don't mind throwing away afterwards. We knew we wouldn't be able to complete the entire project in one sitting, so we periodically covered a small glass that held the Fiber Etch with plastic wrap.
  4. The fabric didn't need any special preparations. Simply place it where it is convenient to your workspace. Be sure to place the fabric right side down
  5. Using a stencil (or freehand if you're really talented in that area), paint on the Fiber Etch. The video I mentioned before used a foam brush, but I used a craft brush that was about 1/2" wide. I felt that a foam brush would loose too much of the chemical. The Fiber Etch will remove the velvet fibers where you apply it. So be aware of what kind of design you wish - you wouldn't want to have a reversed image by mistake.
  6. Allow the Fiber Etch to completely dry.
  7. Apply heat. My first attempt to apply heat to complete the process was to place the gown into my dryer. That was almost a complete failure. The chemical did not completely activate. So, out came my iron. Be very careful here when your burning out velvet! Do not place the iron completely on your project. The Fiber Etch will darken when the chemical has activated. 
  8. Remove the fibers. The directions stated to wash your project and I was leery of placing the velvet into the washer. But I did in cold water and it really worked. The softness of the velvet was only slightly affected and there was no shrinkage.
  9. Dry your project. If you have the freedom to allow your project to air dry, do so. I tossed our project into the dryer on a low heat.

Painting on the Fiber Etch

First layer of Fiber Etch on, moved stencil for next location

Finished velvet burnout