Tuesday, 27 August 2013

How-to: Faux Chenille

One of the best bits of teaching City & Guilds Patchwork and Quilting is having to explore techniques and make samples.  I suppose you get to know what you like and it is easy to stick with it rather than experimenting with new ideas, so it is good to have a reason to play with techniques which are not part of my normal repertoire. 
And so it is with faux chenille.  I remember making (not very successful) samples when I did my City & Guilds Embroidery course and it is a technique I had thought about for my Unsung Muses series as it is very much about concealing and revealing.  But I don’t think I ever tried it.  So it was really good to have to research it to teach to the C&G Group at the Studio at Loch Lomond.   

Here is the step-by-step on how to make faux chenille:

What fabrics?

You can use any fabric that will fray.  Cotton generally works well, flannel is great.  Some manmade ones are good, others do not fray.  You need to experiment with what you have to see what will work. You will need somewhere between 4-7 layers of fabric.

Bright colours work well.  Remember that all the layers apart from the bottom one are going to be cut through, so it is a good way to use up old fabrics you no longer like or buy cheap ones specially for the task.

Getting started

1 Put your backing fabric face down.  This should be one of the nicer fabrics if you are intending the back of the work to be seen. Important: all fabrics should be placed on the grain – you need to be able to cut them on the bias, so place all fabrics square on to the grain.

2 A good tip I read was to place the next fabric also face down as the edges will curl round.

3 Layer up the rest of your fabrics all face up.

4 Turn the sandwich over and draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the bias.

5 Pin the layers together to hold in place.


1 Stitch along your marked line, using a smaller stitch size than normal and putting a few backstitches in at the start and end of the row.

2 Stitch a line parallel to the one you have just stitched, about 1/2in away – you can experiment with the distance between the lines.  For the first sample, use the edge of your presser foot again the line you have stitched as a guideline.

3 Keep stitching parallel lines until the fabric is covered.


1 Cut between your lines of stitching but NOT through the bottom layer.

2 Throw the piece in the washing machine and then, if you have one, the tumble drier.

3 Fluff up with your fingers and leave to dry.


I got really excited making this group of samples and now have loads of ideas of how I could use this in patchwork and my artwork.  Apparently Asda sell good quality plain coloured cheap sheets, which would be fantastic for this.  I just need to get to the supermarket!

Here are some links that I found useful when I was researching.  Kim Thittichai seems to have used the technique with newspaper in one of her books and posts a beautiful piece inspired by her book on her blog.

Also I just loved the baby blanket made in such strong jewel colours on Dana Made It blog.

Have you made any faux chenille?

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