Emboss Velvet With Rubber Stamps and a Household Iron




Embossed velvet is striking and beautiful. Images are sunk into the pile of the velvet so that you get a textural as well as visual effect. The images often also take on an iridescent quality.

Embossing velvet is easier than one might think...

The embossed images are created using heat, producing sunken and iridescent images that can appear shadowy or very reflective depending upon the angle and the folds and fall of the fabric - that is why it can be so tricky to photograph them. Parts of an image may appear "shadowed" while other parts shimmer.

The images are resilient. I have embossed acetate/rayon velvet scarves that I have worn all winter long for several years. They get wet from snow, sleet and rain; get scrunched up, rolled up, sat upon, etc., and the images are still there, even if they are not as crisp as they used to be. I am not recommending this type of treatment, but mention it to give an idea of how the images can last.

It appears that impressing images into velvet using heat may have been around since at least the 16th century. Metal was heated and pressed to the velvet. In the 1990's, Mary O'Neil of Hot Potatoes stamps popularized the use of rubber stamps for the process. For use at home, rubber stamps are obviously easier and safer to use than hot metal.

Care of the resulting velvet: Dry clean only. As with most velvets, the fabric may develop shiny spots if spot-treated or excessively rubbed. Washing/soaking the velvet could result in an uneven look to the velvet (shiny and dark areas) and could loosen the pressed fibers of the images, causing them to appear ghostly and blurry.

Uses for Embossed Velvet: Embossed velvet can be used for clothing and accessories (jackets, bags/purses, scarves, shawls, robes, shirts, dresses, skirts, hats, earmuffs, mittens, cowls, slippers, etc.), as well as items for the home and gifts (throws, curtains, pillows, sachets, runners, wall hangings, upholstery, boxes, ornaments, jewelry and gift bags, journal covers, etc.).

More info and images on my site: inklingsandimprints.net. Images are also up on Flickr. My partner and I designed all of the stamps shown in this tutorial. They are available on our website.

Text and images are copyrighted by Inklings and Imprints. All rights reserved.

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Step 1: What You Will Need

- Iron (with Teflon iron shoe/cover, if possible). A clean, smooth and relatively steam-hole free surface area is best.

- Velvet: acetate/rayon blend is best. Rayon, silk/rayon blend or silk can work. (I have more info on what types of velvet work best and what safety issues there may be with certain velvets.)

- Water misting/spritzing bottle

- Stamp backed with mounting cushion at least 1/8 inch thick, no mounting block needed. Notes on stamps. The stamp used in this tutorial is our Celtic Knotwork Triangle Stamp. We have it available trimmed and mounted on cling cushion, as shown - full or partial sets - or as uncut and unmounted full or partial sets.

- Iron-safe surface

Always do some test swatches for each type of velvet you use so you can vary spritzing, iron temperature, etc.

Step 2: Heat the Iron

Heat iron to the cotton or wool setting. NO STEAM. To be safe, empty any water out of the iron.

Step 3: Dampen the Stamp and Velvet.

There are two ways to dampen the stamp and velvet - see below. Both work well and it may just be a matter of preference. I personally find that the first method produces more consistently crisp images and allows me to avoid dampening previously embossed areas of the velvet, which can result in cloudiness and tufting in those areas. With either method, you may find that you need less water than you would think - coverage of all areas of the stamp is most important.

1. Lightly spritz the stamp itself. You can wipe your hand across the stamp so that all parts are dampened, without large droplets, and tap the stamp sideways on a surface to expel droplets from between the raised parts of the image.

Place the stamp, image-side up, on the ironing surface. - Image 1

Place the velvet, pile-side down, over the stamp. - Image 2


2. Place the stamp, image-side up, on the ironing surface.

Place the velvet, pile-side down, over the stamp. - Image 3

Lightly and evenly mist the back of the velvet where it covers the stamp. Avoid getting a concentration in any one spot. - Image 4

Step 4: Press

Press the iron on the velvet over the area that covers the stamp. Avoid having iron steam holes positioned against the stamp. Keep the iron flat. If you have a clean and smooth iron surface (a Teflon iron cover helps), a little sliding back and forth or side to side across the stamp can help you get crisper images and reduce the visibility of marks from holes in the iron plate or iron cover. It is important to ensure that the iron is kept parallel to the ironing surface, that no movement causes the velvet to shift in relation to the stamp, and that the iron covers all parts of the stamp at all times.

Press for 10-20 seconds.

Step 5: Pull Iron Up and Check for Wet Spots

Pull the iron up, keeping it parallel to the ironing surface.

If your velvet sticks to the iron, then the iron setting is too high for the type of velvet you have. Adjust.

If you see any wet spots through the velvet, lightly set the iron down again to dry it out. Wet spots can dry into 'shiny' spots that reflect light and detract from the impact of the image on a cleaner field of velvet.

Step 6: Check the Image

Once there are no wet spots, carefully lift a corner of the velvet to see how the image took. If you feel it needs longer, carefully lower the velvet back onto the same area of the stamp and press again, perhaps even lightly misting again beforehand.

Step 7: Done!

"Voila!" (or "Viola!")

Embossed velvet can be dry-cleaned. Do not wash. Saturation can loosen the pressed fibers and muddy or erase the images. That said, I've used embossed velvet scarves as my winter scarves and have been impressed by how well they have withstood scrunching, rain and snow for years. Of course, velvet will look better if not subjected to this treatment.

1 Person Made This Project!


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48 Discussions


Question 1 year ago on Step 1

Hey there! Love that you have a tutorial on this. I saw this done and ever since it was done i've wondered exactly what was being done and how!!! I am working on a project that requires the use of this technique, but am having trouble finding velvet that will test properly - so i'm scared to buy fabric if it's not going to actually do this heat stamp as desired. (your "types of velvet" and "safety issues" sections aren't working for me so i can't view those details, would you be able to provide me some more specifics of what type of velvet i need to be going for?


2 years ago

If anyone needs their artwork turned into rubberstamps, Give me a holler.


Mikki G.W

4 years ago on Introduction

Wow, this is really nice! I didn't know you could do that.

I would want to try, if it weren't for the fact that I can't stand the feeling of velvet :P I always get goosebumbs when I touch it.


7 years ago on Introduction

I'm looking to do this with a jacket I am having made... how large of a stamp can be used effectively, and would it be okay to have it made of wood instead of a rubber stamp?


9 years ago on Step 7

Wow - I hadn't heard of this before - have to try it soon.  Thanks for the clear instructions.


10 years ago on Introduction

Thanks, this is great for people who do reenacting or ren faires, as velvet was treated this way in the 16-17 centuries.

1 reply

Yes - although the velvets would have had a different makeup than the ones that work best for embossing with rubber stamps. I think it must have taken much higher temps to emboss the velvets available back then. Enjoy!


10 years ago on Introduction

That is so very pretty, and looks like one of those crafts where the result is a lot more than the effort expended, if that makes any sense at all. The key seems to be picking the right stamps for the garment/finished product. I think I know what decorative element I am adding to my holiday jumper. Thanks for sharing this - it's nicer than adding a trim to a garment, and adds even more decoration.

1 reply

Yup, it is very rewarding - a great "payoff" for the effort? Are you making the jumper? Be sure that you aren't trying to emboss anywhere where there is a seam - unless you don't mind if the images aren't uniformly deep/clear. That sounds lovely. Maybe post pics here in the comments if you take any. ? Take care


11 years ago on Step 7

Thanks for a fabulous tutorial. Can you make the imprints with other materials than rubber stamps? (Wood, metal, potato stamps, etc.?)

2 replies

Ha - I just noticed that you asked about potatoes. Um... I don't think most food products would work well for heat embossing... unless they were really old and krusty. Maybe beef jerky would work, or nuts...


Yup - anything that has a raised texture and won't melt under heat. Lace, wire mesh, metal batiking stamps, woodblocks, etc.. If you are using something that has a smoother and harder surface, you may have to practice a bit so that the velvet doesn't slide against the surface, creating double or ghostly edges.


10 years ago on Introduction

I have been looking for rayon velvet ribbon wide enough to use my stamps, but have been unable to find any at least 2" wide. Any help will be appreciated. I would like to make some things for Christmas and time is getting kinda short. thanks giddi

1 reply

Hi - I know that I have seen embossable ribbon for sale online in the past, but I just tried a few searches and am not coming up with anything. Sorry I can't help... Maybe ask at your local craft store - they may have a supplier who carries that kind of ribbon and could do a special order.


10 years ago on Introduction

p.s. I would like to have the "wired" ribbon as most will be used for book marks thanx


10 years ago on Introduction

Well, I did emboss red velvet with Xmas stamps to make scarves as Xmas gifts. My kids helped with the embossing and sewing ('tho I did most of it) I wanted to report back that I did try embossing on velour. I took my daughter's old velour sweatpants, and embossed along the bottom hem. I was fearful of burning the fabric, but I set it to the same heat setting as for velvet. It sort of worked - the pattern showed up, but it didn't burn away the nap. So the pattern only lasted until the next washing, and then it sort of brushed out. So, I guess if you want temporary patterns, you could try velour. Actually, that may be a bonus for my daughter - we can change the stamp patterns often!