One of the softest materials which is used worldwide in our daily lives is velvet. This material is often associated with something classy and sophisticated when it comes to certain clothing. Its effect on our body gives a soothing and relaxed feeling. But there’s more to it than just that. Recent studies have shown that velvet can actually bring back positive memories especially in the case of older people.
Velvet is a type of woven tufted fabric in which the cut threads are evenly distributed, with a short dense pile, giving it a distinctive feel. It is woven on a special loom that weaves two thicknesses of velvet at the same time. The two pieces are then cut apart to create the pile effect, 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.
One of the fibers from which velvet is generated is silk. Silk velvet is supposed to be the most expensive. Other forms of fiber like linen, mohair, and wool can also be used to produce velvet. With the advancement of technology more variations of velvet are produced nowadays. Termed as synthetic velvets these have been developed nowadays mostly in the form of polyester, nylon, viscose, acetate, and mixtures of different synthetics, or synthetics and natural fibers (for example viscose mixed with silk). In order to make certain velvet materials stretchable, spandex is also used.
It’s no surprise that soft materials are more pleasing to the touch than rough ones, but a recent study found that they can actually improve the cognitive and emotional skills of older adults. In the research, published in the October 2012 issue of Geriatrics and Gerontology International, participants were divided into three groups, each of which completed twice-weekly activities that involved working with either a piece of velvet, canvas or Velcro. After 10 weeks, participants in the velvet group had increased verbal fluency and emotional competence and decreased negative emotions, whereas those in the Velcro group had the opposite results. There was no change in the canvas group.
This study is the first ever to look at how touching different materials affects well-being, so the researchers do not yet know how the phenomenon works, but they hypothesize that the association between soft materials and positive memories may be to thank.
The durability of velvet in particular actually depends upon the fiber. In the case of silk velvet, it is neither washable nor durable and is suitable only for special occasion wear or evening wear. Whereas cotton velvet is best known for its durability and is washable and wearable on a regular basis. It is also known as velveteen. But even then it is one fabric which has to be handled and used with utmost care in order to keep it in prime condition.
So the next time you plan to buy clothes to wear or household items like bed sheets, bedcovers etc. think about this soft and cozy material.