Chenille Quilting Tutorial

Were do I begin? I will start by saying, if you have a sewing machine with a walking foot, you can chenille Quilt!

Tools necessary :

  • Sewing Machine
  • A new needle (I use 90/14)
  • A walking foot
  • A sharp pair of pointed scissors, or a rotary chennile cuter
  • batting
  • 4-6 pieces of fabric

Lets get started. First, make your quilt sandwich. This will consist of your backing and batting and top fabric. Your top layers of fabric can be as many as you choose. The more layers, the more “bloom” you will achieve.

For all chenille quilting it is MANDATORY you sew with the bias. Do NOT sew with the grain or against the grain. That would be a lot of time and money wasted. It will result in shredding of fabric instead of bloom. Pin baste your layers.

I have seen a technique of layers 4 of the same fabric panels in chenille quilting. It gives a soft and fuzzy look to the panel, and a soft and fuzzy feel to touch. I do not own matching panels so I grabbed fabrics I had.

Sew from corner to corner on your quilt sandwich using you walking foot. It will help you to know if you change out your needle before you start this project, it will help sew through the thickness. Does it have to be perfectly on the 45 degree bias? No, you can be off, but try not to deviate more than 9 degrees. How much is nine degrees? Think of a Dresden using a 10 degree ruler, or a 9 degree ruler. The angle in that ruler is about how far off kilter you can go before you run into problems. Your next stitching line in your quilt will have to be determined by what tools you have to perform the cut on the bias. If you are using scissors, you will space your next line of quilting parallel to the first, but the distance of your parallels will be according to the width of your scissors. Note: If you are using scissors keep in mind that this is hard on the hands.

Space your parallel lines equally spaced. If you deviate a tad, this shows up as you see it now before bloom. After bloom the stitches disappear on the front and it will not be noticeable. After you have stitched all your parallel lines approximately equidistant, it is time to cut.

Regardless if I am using the chenille cutter, I always snip about 1/2 inch in ensuring I am not getting through too many layers of the sandwich. When doing the cutting step, do not cut the backing or batting. You will also refrain from cutting the top layer of fabric that is against the batting. If you cut through that layer, you expose the batting. The batting will not necessarily be stabilized enough for longevity nor will it be good for your quilting mojo. All that work, and no fix for this mistake. Keep the bottom of the top layers uncut.

If you are using a chenille cutter, you will select the foot of the cutter most snug between your parallel lines. Turn the dial of the cutter to cut at that foot. Slide between the parallel lines not catching the batting, backing, or bottom top layer. Slide cuter. Your one row is cut. Move to the next row the same as the first, and so on.

If you are using scissors carefully place between the correct layers and snip, and snip, and snip. if your cuts are jagged, that is ok, it will be lost in the bloom. This is the most physical aspect of chenille quilting. You cannot really open the jaws of your scissors far, so the lever action is HARD. you will feel the burn. You may do a marathon of cutting a feel it for days. If it hurts stop and rest. Ask a loved one for help, or come back to it later when your hand is not fatigued.

Now you are ready to bloom your fabric. You can achieve bloom in one of two ways.

  • Wash in the washing machine and throw in the dryer
  • Use a nylon brush to scrub the cut side of the quilting

It will bloom either way you chose. One is a workout. One has a softer outcome. Chose your method.

Here is the example I threw in to a load of laundry. The bloom is more significant after washing.

Tada, that is chenille quilting!

But wait……there’s more!

Did you know you can make a chenille sweater using bias tape and a wash away stabilizer?

List of items needed for making a chenille sweater

  • Sewing machine (or longarm)
  • rolls of bias tape
  • sewing pattern for a top of your chosing
  • washaway stabilizer

Your first step is to trace the front and back pieces (and sleeves) onto your stabilizer. Stitch your layers of bias tape to the stabilizer. You will be stitching down the bias as close together or as far apart as you wish for the sweater to be dense or less dense. You will come back perpendicular and cross over with new bias making a cross hatch pattern. Make sure to outline your pattern piece and stitch down layers of bias around the perimeter of each pattern piece. This bias will need to be 5/8 thick bias as this is your seam allowance. Sew your pattern pieces together according to the pattern instruction. (there is no right side or wrong side) Try it on, ensure it fits. Throw it in the wash, and then in the dryer. Depending how close you sewed your crosshatch bias will determine the hole size in the bloom of your new chenille sweater.

There are varying widths of bias by the roll. You can sew the 5/8 and layer with layers of 3/8 on top. This will give a nice rounded affect. You can trim raw edge appliqué with bias. You can cut 1/2 inch pieces of bias and bar tack them through your layers of your quilt sandwich as an embellishment. You can stitch down your binding of your quilt and add raw edge bias on top. The quilt edge will be finished but you will also have bloom. The possibilities are endless with color and size. Placement is all up to you.

Here is a wonderful video published by handiquilter and full of ideas. Notice the quilter in the video is wearing a chenille sweater she made on the longarm.

Here is a video showing how to use the chenille cutter as well as a layer of panels.

You can make scarves, mittens and jackets, even potholders and placemats. You could probably even make a tote.

Here is a tutorial on scarf making.

There is so much you can do with chenille. If you are using the precut bias tape method, you can outline raw edge applique. You can add extra pizzaz to your binding and make it bloom. You can snip 1/2 inch pieces for the stack up and quilt using the bar tack method on your sewing machine every 2 to 4 inches for a tied quilt look with fuzz instead of yarn. The internet is a great resource for ideas involving these techniques. I encourage all of you to at least try a pot holder sized project. You will be glad you did.

I hope you have found inspiration from this post and sew up that stash! Thank you for reading my blog!

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