Chenille Jackets

Today I am teaching a seminar at a store in Onalaska, WI. I was very surprised when I saw two of the employees come in wearing very different, but also very striking chenille jackets! Each of these ladies has had her jacket for a while now, and could not tell me what patterns were used to create the jackets – but I just had to share the pictures with you. They were made with regular fabric that had been chenilled, just as I explained in this post: Make Your Own Chenille, and the Olfa Chenille Cutter was used to make the chenille in each case.

It was exciting to see these great examples of hand-made chenille so soon after posting about this process here on the blog!

This jacket was made using 6 layers of a challis fabric (rayon). Cut through 5 layers.

The jacket was finished off with a binding at the edges, just as if you were finishing off a quilt.
A couple of closeups of the fabric – can’t you just imagine how soft this would be to touch?

This beige jacket was made using 2 layers of a green plaid homespun, and 4 layers of osnaburg. The green plaid provides the backing, and the osnaburg is the fabric that was chenilled through.

For this jacket, the back was stitched in a V design. This particular design made me think of a suggestion in making chenilled clothing – layer your fabrics on top of each other and when you cut, cut about 1 “ bigger all around because as you sew your channels of stitching your fabrics can shift around a little. After you do the stitching on the bias and cut the channels – then you can cut the piece to the exact pattern piece.
This will make a slightly difficult pattern element such as this back design a lot easier to create.

This pattern allows for the lapels of the collar to be turned outward for a different look, or as you can see from the other pictures the jacket looks great with the lapels of the collar turned in – whichever look you choose for the day.
These closeups show a bit more of the detail of the chenilleing process, can you see the green plaid peeking through the chenille rows? Adds an extra bit of depth to the look of this lovely jacket.

The woman in the beige jacket was my ‘Vanna’ for the afternoon (holding up quilts as I talked about them to the audience). She was kind enough to volunteer to wear her jacket throughout the program today, just so that people could see the chenille look as I was talking about it! Now, I have to tell you, it may not be exactly warm in Wisconsin right now, but it’s not cold enough to be wearing a thick jacket like this indoors for two hours! Clapping 2 What a Trooper!

Many thanks to both of these ladies for their willingness to share these lovely creations.

Love the feel of chenille? Be sure to check out these other posts about making and sewing with your own chenille fabric:

Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing

FREE Pattern – Chenille Rug

Today, I will still be talking about making chenille but now we are using homespun fabric.

Homespun is a great fabric to work with because it “blooms” so well.
What is homespun fabric? – I’m glad you asked! (Well, I’m sure that at least some of you asked) Winking 2

When homespun fabric is made they dye the thread and then weave the fabric. It also tends to be a little looser weave than a printed calico would be. Because it is a product that is woven after the thread has been dyed (instead of having the pattern printed on the top of the fabric), it will have a pattern that is easy to weave, such as strip, plaid, and occasionally hearts or stars will be in the pattern. Of course, it also comes in solids. Homespun fabric is 100% cotton.

The fact that the fabric is woven instead of printed means that you will be able to see the pattern on both the front and back sides of the fabric. But one side will always clearly be the front – so make sure you pay attention as you are laying out your fabrics!

Today I am going to share with you a rug that I made out of homespun fabrics.
If you have not already seen my post on how to make your own chenille, here is the link. It should help to clarify some items that are not fully explained in this post.

    1. You will need 6 layers of homespun fabric 45” X 25”.
    2. Lay the first layer facing down and 5 layers facing up. I wanted the plaid on the homespun fabric to still appear after I chenilled the rug, so I made sure that the plaid lines were stacked directly on top of each other before I started to sew.
    3. Using a washable fabric marker or pencil, draw a line diagonally from one corner of the fabric to the opposite corner.
    4. Stitch along the line you just drew.
    5. Continue to stitch approx ½” channels all across your project, using the first line you stitched as a guide.
    1. Next cut through the top 4 layers of homespun with the Olfa Chenille Cutter.
    1. Once you have the cut all of your channels, trim your project to the desired shape. In this case I wanted an oval rug. You can either make a pattern from an existing rug you have in your home or in my case I used newspaper and cut until I found the shape I wanted for the oval.
    2. After you cut to shape add a binding. In this case, since my rug was an oval I made my binding on the bias.
    1. Wash and dry. Doesn’t this fabric just ‘bloom’ beautifully? And a picture really can’t show you how soft it is!
    1. Enjoy! This makes a great gift for yourself – or for a friend!

Love the feel of chenille? Be sure to check out these links for more ideas on making and sewing with your own custom chenille fabric:

Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing

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