Make Your Own Chenille

Following are the very basic instructions on how to make your own Chenille using the Olfa Chenille Cutter. Are there other options for making your own chenille? Yes, but I much prefer the Olfa cutter for it’s simplicity and ease of use.

If you would like more detail on the Olfa Chenille Cutter, please check out this post.

Fabrics – I find that homespun cottons, flannels, and denim all work very well when making chenille. These fabrics are loosely woven and tend to “bloom” very nicely. I also use challis (rayon) and cotton calicos, for these fabrics I make my channel stitching closer together because it doesn’t “bloom” quite as thick as the other fabrics. Another fabric that is fun to chenille is fleece – when you are working

with fleece you only use two layers of fabric, the channels are cut only into the top fabric.

Layers of Fabric — the number of layers used to make the chenille depends on the final project. If both sides of the project will be visible when finished, I leave two fabrics not cut through. The number of layers that I cut through varies based on use of the project, and the fabrics thickness. Some examples are:

  • Flannel Baby Blanket – 5 layers, cut through 3
  • Homespun fabric if rug, hot pads, place mats, etc – 6 layers, cut through 4.
  • Homespun pillow – 5 layers, cut through 4 (because the back of the chenille would be inside the pillow and no one would see)
  • You will need to make variations depending on your projects.

Suggestion – If working with different colors of fabrics, or a patterned fabric to make your chenille, I suggest taking some 6” squares of the fabric you are planning to use. Stitch your channels, cut the top layers, wash, and dry completely – this will give you a test sample of what the finished fabric will look like. It’s always nicer to make adjustments in the test sample then to spend time making a full project and then be disappointed in the final look.

Layering – When layering fabrics, you lay the first fabric facing down and the rest facing up. If the fabric has a pattern you want to be able to notice when the project is chenilled that you will have to layer the fabrics you will cut through so that pattern in the fabric lay exactly on top of each other. If you don’t care about that than you can layer the fabrics at random (but then the sample piece suggested above is almost a must bef

ore creating chenille for the entire project).

Diagram Stitiching – Channels are stitched on the bias. It doesn’t need to be a true bias but it should be close (see image on the right – channels are shown with dotted lines). What I do is draw a line from one corner to the opposite corner and stitch that line. From that point, I usually move my needle on my machine all the way to the left and just use my right edge of my presser foot as a guide to sew the next ch

annel. Continue all the way across the whole project till the whole thing is channel stitched.

Cutting – Find the foot on the Chenille cutter that fits the best (tightest) in the channels you have sewn. Put the foot over the one or two bottom layers you don’t want to cut through. Slide the Chenille cutter through the channel cutting the fabrics above the foot. Continue across your whole project.

Note: Sometimes I find it helpful to take a scissor and snip in 1” through the top layers I will chenille – then when I use the Chenille tool it is easy to get the foot between the right layers. Better safe than sorry! Grin 5

Squaring the Project – After I cut through the layers to chenille I usually square up or trim up the edges. If the project is going to be cut to a shape such as a oval or a jacket front, this is the time to do that.

Binding – If the project is going to have binding I add that at this point. It is much easier to add when the project is still flat. If I am making a jacket, I would now sew it together, again it is easier to work with before you wash and dry to “bloom” the chenille.

“Blooming” – This is where your project comes to life! If you have sewn your channels on the bias you should simply just need to wash and dry your project. I hav

e found that some fabrics need you to do this step twice depending on how tight the weave of the fabric is. When it come out of the dryer your project is ready to enjoy!

You will have so much fun sewing your own chenille. Here are more posts in this series to enjoy:

Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing

DYK (Did You Know) – Olfa Chenille Cutter

D.Y.K. – Did You Know?
About: Olfa Chenille Cutter

Olfa has answered all the problems that we as crafters have had with other chenille cutters. They really did listen to the challenge we had with other products for making chenille. In this post, I’ll explain what makes the Olfa Chenille Cutterdifferent, and why you shouldn’t be afraid to use it! Information in this post is a mixture of my personal experience using the cutter, and information sent to me by the Olfa company.

  • Feet
    • First, they added 4 different feet around the edge so that when you sew your fabric channels you can make them 1/8″, 1/4″, 3/8″, or 5/8” wide.
    • It helps to pick the foot that fits the tightest in the channel because then you don’t have to guide the cutter down the center of the channel when making your chenille, it will automatically go down the center since it fits tightly.
    • Once you have decided which foot to use turn the black knob (red arrow) to the left until the blade opens by the foot you want to use. The fabric you don’t want cut (your base) goes under the foot, and the fabric that you slide over the foot will be cut.
  • Blade
    • The blade works much like a letter opener, in that the blade does not move as you cut, it stays stationary.
    • The blade is very sharp (thank goodness it has a carriage to protect our delicate hands) and you can cut a lot of fabric before it does get dull.
    • When it does become dull, you turn black knob to the right (where the black arrow is) until you hear a soft click. Now you will have a fresh section of blade to use.
    • The blade has a total of 24 cutting sections that can be used. This is an advantage over a regular rotary blade and cutter – if you get a dull spot on a rotary blade, the entire blade must be replaced. I think you will find that this method prolongs the life of the single blade.
    • When it is finally time to replace the blade, on the back of the tool there is a black clip you pull back. Put the new blade in – push the clip back into place and you are ready to go again.

See what I mean? They really did think of everything!
The rest of this week we are going to be showing some fun projects made with the chenille cutter – feel free to let me know about what types of things you have made with your own home-made chenille!

If you love the feel of chenille, be sure to check out our other ideas for making and sewing with your own custom chenille fabric:

Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing