Learn How to Make Chenille Fabric
Did you know that you can make chenille fabric? You can use a single color of fabric OR use several colors of fabric to create many fun color effects! I’ll be showing you how to make your own chenille fabric!
I have a book I’m referring to for this post called Creative Cotton Chenille. I bought this book from a sewing and quilt show, and I thought I’d make up some sample chenille fabric pieces and help you to learn the ‘how-to’ for the chenille technique.
The two ladies that designed the projects for this book used homespun fabrics. This book has the patterns needed for the vest and jacket, and appliqué patterns for the appliqué shapes used on the chenille projects in this book.
You can make some pretty neat things featuring chenille like vests, pillows, bags, rugs, potholders or whatever your creative mind can come up with! I was even thinking that you could combine chenille quilt squares among regular quilt squares to create a great looking visual appeal to a quilt!
How To Make Your Own Chenille Fabric
Let’s get started!
Decide on the type of homespun cotton fabric to use:
- Solid color homespun cotton fabric
- Patterned or plaid homespun cotton fabric
- Combination of solid and patterned/plaid homespun cotton fabric
Using fabrics in different shades of predominately the same color will result in a look that is solid colored with flecks. You could choose a plaid color in the middle of the solid colors. Multicolored fabrics produce a multicolored chenille but placement of the layered fabrics causes different threads to dominate.
Have fun experimenting until you find the look you like! I chose to use plaid fabrics for my Chenille Fabric Samples.
Supplies List for Making Chenille Fabric
Top Layers of Homespun Fabric- Use 3 layers. You can find Homespun fabric at JoAnn, Amazon and fabric.com.
Bottom/base layer of fabric (I just had some beige denim laying around so I used that for my base) You can use any cotton fabric.
Water Soluble Pen
Basic Sewing Supplies and Sewing Machine
Fabric spray adhesive (optional)
Helpful but optional tools to aid in ensuring you will ONLY cut the top layers of fabric and NOT the base layer fabric. Rotary Cutter to use with OmniStrips by Omnigrid, Inc., or a Chenille Slash Cutter. (See video below)
I was lucky enough to inherit some chenille strips to be used with a regular rotary cutter or scissors. These strips come in different widths and are inserted into the rows in-between the base and the top fabric layers. You can then use the rotary blade or scissors to cut the layers of fabric. (The only downside to these strips is that if you accidentally steer wrong with the rotary cutter, you can easily accidentally cut into adjacent rows.)
The really cool thing about the newer style rotary blade specifically for the chenille technique is that you won’t have any accidental fabric cutting where you don’t want it.
Preparing Fabric Layers to Create Chenille
**If you are making a garment-you should pre-wash your base layer fabric. If you are just making samples like I am showing you, pre-washing the base is not necessary.
Layer your fabrics:
For making samples, you can choose any size you want. I used 6″X6″ fabric pieces. It is easier to cut the top layer fabrics if you make your bottom layer 1/2 inch bigger on each side. (6 1/2″ by 6 1/2″)
- One piece of bottom/base layer fabric; The UNCUT layer.
- Three pieces of Homespun fabric. All these pieces will be layered on top of each other. These are the layers that will be cut.
- You can just pin your layers together or use a fabric adhesive.
Draw lines a consistent 1/2 ” apart, ON THE BIAS, using a clear plastic ruler and a pencil, chalk pencil, or a water soluble pen.
Draw the first line on the center bias, then measure out 1/2″ from center line to draw your lines. Do this on the other side of the center bias line too. (see picture below)
For this sample, I just used simple straight lines. (You could make your own design if you wish)
Stitching Rows on your piece of fabric:
- You will stitch right on top of the lines you just marked.
Three Different Ways to Cut the fabric in your rows:
Carefully use the scissors to cut thru all the top fabric layers. (Take care to NOT cut base fabric)
The picture below shows the chenille strips with the scissors, but you can cut the top layers of fabric with just the scissors only; no chenille strips necessary.
Video overview of how to Make Chenille Fabric
Slip a OmniStrip between the base layer and top fabric layers. Then cutting thru the top layers with a rotary cutter. (If you don’t have the Omnistrip in place, the rotary cutter will cut through all the layers, including the base.)
3rd-Slash Cutter for Chenille
Use a Clover chenille cutter made specially for the Chenille Technique.
Watch this video with the slash cutter in motion:
Benefits of using the Clover Slash Cutter
The ease of use is so simple!
Saves time as opposed to cutting with scissors or having to insert a chenille strip in each row before you can use the regular rotary cutter.
Less stress on your arm muscles, all you have to do is simply push the cutter through the fabric!
(The blade doesn’t move in a circular motion like a regular rotary cutter. When the blade gets dull, all you do is simply turn the blade to a new spot!)
This slash cutter also comes with another shorter plastic guide to be able to turn corners or 90 degree angles!
I highly recommend this Clover slash cutter be added to your sewing accessories!
Finishing the Chenille Quilting Technique
After you are done cutting, you are ready to wash and dry your sample pieces.
The chenille effect will be achieved after your project is washed and dried. You could use a soft brush to help ‘fluff’ your chenille after it comes out of the dryer if you want. See sample pictures below!
After washing and drying my samples, I wanted to make some samples with rows stitched at other widths and with extra layers of fabric just to see what the finished sample would look like. I was so excited waiting for the dryer to get done to see my experiments!
The following samples I made with different number of fabric layers, different seams, and different fabric layers. If you are a numbers person like me, you know there are endless varieties of chenille samples you can make!
Out of all the samples I tried, I actually like the 1/4″ seams the best, the fabric felt softer and didn’t look as messy to me.
We’ve all heard the saying that ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, now it is your turn to have fun and make chenille fabric!
Homespun Cotton Fabric Selections:
If you liked this fun tutorial, check out my other tutorials:
What is Chenille?
Chenille may refer to a type of yarn or a fabric made from the yarn. Chenille is a French word for caterpillar whose fur the yarn is supposed to resemble. (Wikipedia).
What is most Chenille made from?
Chenille is made from cotton, silk, rayon or wool. The yarn is thick and soft and the fabric has a thick pile and is made from chenille yarn. (reference.com)
Thanks for reading and Happy Sewing!
See you soon,