With velvet making a major comeback in home decor and fashion, figured velvet is having a moment. This luxuriously textured fabric instantly elevates any space or garment with its eye-catching pattern and sumptuous feel. Here’s a deep dive into everything you need to know about figured velvet and how to incorporate it into your home and wardrobe for maximum impact.

What Is Figured Velvet?

Figured velvet refers to velvet fabric that has been woven with an embossed pattern, creating visual interest and texture. Unlike plain velvet which has a uniform look, figured velvet features motifs such as florals, paisleys, vines, geometric shapes, and more.

The patterns are created during the weaving process by contrasting the pile direction of the velvet’s threads. The areas with vertically flowing pile blend together while the horizontally flowing pile stands out, forming the design. The result is a textured fabric that has a slight sheen and feels plush to the touch.

A Brief History of Figured Velvet

Velvet originated in the Middle East and was later brought to Italy during the Renaissance. Italians perfected the intricate weaving techniques needed to produce elaborately patterned velvet, which became associated with nobility and royalty across Europe.

By the 18th century, European velvet figured with lush botanical and floral designs was highly desirable as furnishing fabric. Velvet remained popular through the Victorian era before falling out of favor in the early 20th century.

Recently, figured velvet has been making a comeback in home decor, upholstery, and fashion. The fabric’s lush look and feel make it a great choice for adding warmth, texture, and vintage appeal to any space or ensemble.

The Luxurious Look and Feel of Figured Velvet

What makes figured velvet so special is its exceptionally plush, decadent look and tactile texture. The fabric has a slightly irregular, pebbled appearance that catches the light beautifully. Unlike flat fabrics, the woven patterns are physically raised due to the contrasting pile directions.

This 3-dimensional quality creates more visual depth and makes figured velvet appealingly tactile and cozy. The fabric is woven from silk, rayon, cotton, wool, or synthetics, so it can feel anywhere from fluidly drapey to warm and insulating depending on the material blend.

Figured velvet has a refined vintage vibe, feeling gracefully aged due to its natural crush look. At the same time, it possesses a luxe softness that is delightful to touch. This dichotomy is what makes the fabric so alluring.

Incorporating Figured Velvet into Your Home

When it comes to home decor, figured velvet makes a lavish statement whether used sparingly or prominently. For those who prefer a subtle touch, using it on toss pillows, throw blankets, and small upholstered furniture like ottomans can add a pop of texture.

For a bolder look, upholstering chairs, headboards, and sofas in figured velvet transforms the entire feel of a space into glamorous vintage paradise. Draperies and wall hangings made from the fabric can also create a powerful high-end impact.

Floral and botanical figured velvet upholstery feels right at home in traditional, Victorian, and shabby chic spaces. Geometric Art Deco patterns lend a more contemporary vibe. Deep rich hues like merlot or navy suit traditional interiors while pastels and neutrals keep the look light and modern.

No matter where it’s used, figured velvet introduces a sense of timeless grandeur and allure to any room.

Wearing Figured Velvet for Maximum Impact

For statement-making fall and winter fashion, look no further than figured velvet. From dresses to jumpsuits, blazers, skirts and more, velvet immediately elevates any garment. Go for baroque-inspired floral patterns or retro paisleys in jewel tones for the most dramatic effect.

Pairing accessories like shoes, handbags, and hair accessories made from coordinating figured velvet gives the look cohesion and flair. For minimalists, a simple slip dress in a shimmering solid velvet makes an equally plush and glitzy style statement.

No matter your personal aesthetic, figured velvet clothing and accessories lend a palpable sense of luxury and texture. Velvet makes any outfit feel special enough for the most festive occasions while also keeping you warm.

Caring for Figured Velvet

While durable, figured velvet does require some special care to keep it looking its best. Follow any specific washing instructions from the manufacturer to prevent shrinking or damaging the pile. In general, dry cleaning is the safest method.

For textile furnishings, frequent vacuuming on a low power setting avoids flattening the fabric. Avoid harsh chemicals, bleaches, and scrubbing to prevent discoloration. Steaming is better than ironing for removing wrinkles in clothing.

Protecting figured velvet from direct sunlight helps retain its richness and color intensity. With proper care, high-quality velvet can last for decades, only becoming plusher over time.

The Timeless Allure of Figured Velvet

With its indulgently soft texture, enchanting sheen, and ornate embossed patterns, it’s easy to see why figured velvet has been prized for centuries. The fabric instantly turns any piece it graces into a work of art with vintage charm.

Figured velvet offers a welcome sensory experience in our increasingly minimalist, mass-produced world. Everything from chandeliers to Chicago bolts feels special and storied when made from this luxe material. With proper care, figured velvet can last generations.

So go ahead, pile on the velvet. Whether used lavishly or as an accent, this opulent fabric makes every space and garment feel like home to your inner aristocrat.

Frequently Asked Questions About Figured Velvet

What is the difference between figured velvet and plain velvet?

Plain velvet has a uniform texture and appearance, while figured velvet has a pattern woven into it using contrasting pile directions to create embossed designs like florals and geometrics.

How is figured velvet made?

Figured velvet is made on a complex Jacquard loom that allows the warp and weft threads to be independently controlled to create patterns. The areas with vertical pile form the designs and the horizontal pile recedes into the background.

What are the most popular patterns seen in figured velvet?

Some of the most popular figured velvet patterns include floral medallions, paisleys, vines, leaves, geometrics, animal prints, and Art Deco motifs.

Does figured velvet fray easily?

High-quality velvet is tightly woven and resists fraying, especially on the patterned areas. Avoid applying too much strain perpendicular to the pile or abrading the fabric. Fraying can be mitigated by sealing raw edges.

What’s the best way to clean figured velvet?

It’s safest to dry clean figured velvet to prevent shrinking, discoloration, and pile crushing. If machine washing, use cold water on the gentle cycle with a mild detergent. Air dry and steam to restore the pile.

Can you make figured velvet curtains?

Yes, figured velvet makes beautiful opulent curtains. Be sure to line them and use ring tabs, grommets or a pole pocket system to prevent straining the fabric. Close lining seams with seam tape.

Is figured velvet bad for allergies?

Like any fabric, velvet can harbor allergens like dust mites. Frequent cleaning and vacuuming helps, and stick with synthetic or low pile velvets if allergies are a major concern.

What’s the best room to use figured velvet in?

Figured velvet shines in bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, libraries, and home offices. Anywhere that you want to create a luxe, glamorous feel is perfect for this fabric. It’s well-suited to traditional, Victorian and eclectic decors.

Can you make clothes out of figured velvet?

Yes, figured velvet is a great choice for elegant dresses, tops, skirts, jackets, and accessories like scarves. Choose lightweight cotton or poly-blend velvets. Have items lined for comfort and wash gently.


With its lavish elegance, figured velvet is always in style. This ornately patterned plush fabric instantly transforms any space or garment into a work of art. Now that you know how to incorporate figured velvet into your home and wardrobe, you can enjoy its luxe vintage beauty. Layer on this opulent material for an instant infusion of aristocratic flair.