85F3CE96-2B73-4819-B350-FD64F4FBC6D4 .Quiltscapes.: Chenille Applique'

Monday, January 30, 2017

Chenille Applique'

I {Heart} Appliqué Lesson II ~ Chenille!!

I remember sleeping under a chenille bedspread at my Grandma's house.  Soft, fuzzy caterpillar-like channels were stitched into a design on the blanket.  And interestingly enough, "chenille" is actually the French word for "caterpillar." 

Here's how to make bias chenille strips, then use them to appliqué a design and finish the edges (it's one of those "Alternate Endings") for this sweet little pillow.  You'll be amazed at how EASY it is from start to finish!  Just takes a few supplies and a little (ok, maybe a lot) of elbow grease!


* 1 Fat Quarter solid woven (dyed, not printed) fabric such as Riley Blake Designs' Confetti Cottons.
* Stiff-bristle brush
* Matching thread
* Extension guide (Seam guide/quilting guide gadget) for your sewing machine foot.  You were probably wondering when you would ever use this little contraption that came with the sewing machine! 



1) TRIM the solid fat quarter into a square, about 18" x 18".  Set aside the remaining fabric for flower applique' petals, if desired.  FOLD the square in half, diagonally.  PIN together if desired.  For this process of making chenille strips, two layers are sufficient.  You may use up to 6 layers of cotton, or 4 layers of flannel.

2)  STITCH.  Insert extension seam guide into the hole at the back of the sewing machine foot, then stitch channels, about 1/2-inch apart, beginning about 1/2" from the fold line, with matching thread.  If you don't have a seam guide to gauge the distance, you may wish to mark the lines.  Continue stitching in half-inch increments from the diagonal fold until the whole triangle is stitched through.

3)  PRESS the stitched fabric flat, then CUT between stitching lines, making 1/2-inch strips.  We'll use even the shortest pieces.  TRIM to square of the ends of each strip.

What a nice little pile of chenille strips!  FOUR things you will want to remember when applying:
 * Square off ends of chenille strips to prevent shredding
 * Backstitch at beginning and end of each strip
 * Stitch through the center of the strip, usually over the same stitches.
 * When you run out of a strip, simply overlap the next one 1/4" and continue on.

1 Batch of 1/2-inch Chenille Strips, made from one fat quarter of solid dyed fabric.
* 3 Fat Quarters of your favorite adorable prints (approx. 18" x 22")
* Matching Thread
* Marking pencil
* Large Button
* 16" to 18" Pillow Form

Square up 3 of the fat quarters about 17" to 18" square.  Draw or trace a design on the right side of the print.  If you wish to applique, cut out shapes and use a glue stick to position as desired.  The other two fat quarters will become the backing.

Place a chenille strip where you want to begin.  Align the stitched line over the drawn lines, or along the edge of your applique piece.

These bias strips are flexible and bend pretty easily around curves.  Stitch along the center of the strip, back-stitching at the beginning and end of each strip.   

If you'd like, you can add a few pins or use a glue stick to secure.  

When you need to add another strip, make sure to overlap strips about 1/4".  Keep adding strips until your design is complete.  Another nice thing is, these strips are very forgiving.  Don't stress if the ends don't line up exactly, or if your stitching line isn't exactly centered.  It will all "come out in the wash" - so to speak!

Brush out the strips using a stiff plastic-bristle brush.  A light spritz of water will help speed up the process.  Or, you can or save that step for later after you've finished the construction - and simply throw the project in the washing machine

You may also save this step until after quilting the pillow top, if desired.

Make the pillow back flap by folding the remaining two fat quarters in half horizontally.  Overlap the folded edges at the center with raw edges outside.

Lay out the pillow top over the prepared pillow back with wrong sides together; adjust and trim the backing to the correct size.  Pin in place.  Baste the edges together, using 1/4" seam allowance.

Add remaining chenille strips aligning edges with raw edges of the pillow.  Apply to both sides of the pillow.  Work on one side at a time rather than trying to do both sides at once.  Stitch along the center stitching line.

Remember to backstitch at beginnings and endings, and overlap 1/4" if necessary to join strips.  You may use up all of your strips, even the smallest pieces.

Use a stiff-bristle brush to fuzz up the chenille on the edges as before.  Since the print is cut on the grainline, expect a little fraying.  Trim off any extra threads from the pillow.

Add an 18" pillow form, and your Chenille Appliqué Pillow is complete!  

NOTE:  If you plan to quilt your pillow top, it may be easier to manage if you save the step of brushing out the chenille until after the quilting is complete.

Use this technique to outline blocks or add an accent.  On this owl, I tapered the ends on his eyebrows and wings to about 1/4-inches wide.

Owl Always Love You PATTERN  by Deonn Stott 

These chenille strips are so flexible, I've also used them to stitch words, hair, leaves and other accents.

Chenille strips worked great on this quilted pillow for appliqué and edge finishes.

Hope you enjoy trying this fun "appliqué-tion" to add a little furry dimension to your next project!


  1. This is the cutest idea. I can't wait to try it!

  2. Wow, what a lovely tutorial; I can just imagine what a delightful soft touch the Chenille adds to these projects. Thank you so much for linking up with Tips and Tutorials Tuesday!

  3. Thank you for sharing your technique Deonn! I am going to try and make rectangular pillows for my nieces, with their names on them. Do you have any suggestions on how to figure out what size piece of fabric to use when sewing the pillow-case closed in this manner?

    1. Cut two backing pieces with the height the same as the pillow and the width at least 4 inches longer and fold in half. This will give a 4-inch overlap in the center.


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