I {Heart} Applique II

Posted by deonnstott on Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Lesson II ~ Chenille Appliqué Basics

Chenille Applique
Hi, I'm Deonn, and I work/play/dream/design over at Quiltscapes.

This is a bonus tutorial, in a series of Appliqué
 lessons.  Last Month's Raw Edge Machine Appliqué Basics can be found HERE.  Next time, we'll explore freezer-paper methods.

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." 
Chenille Applique
Today, we'll make our own chenille strips, then use them to appliqué a design and  finish the edges for this great little pillow ~ a vintagey technique using Lori Holt's adorable vintagey "Daisy Cottage" line. 
Chenille Applique
In addition, Riley Blake Designs has a wonderful collection of SOLIDS that work perfectly for this project!  A lot of the time, my inspiration comes from the fabric itsself, and this project is no exception.  And 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!

3 Fat Quarters of your favorite adorable prints (approx. 18" x 22")
1 Fat Quarter solid woven (not printed) fabric; no wrong side/right side
Stiff-bristle brush
Matching thread

To make chenille strips, CUT the solid fat quarter into a square.  FOLD in half, diagonally; we are creating bias chenille strips. 

Chenille Applique 
Pin together if desired.

Chenille Applique 
STITCH channels, 1/2-inch apart, beginning about 1/2" from the fold line, with matching thread.  I used my quilting guide to gauge the distance, or you may wish to mark the lines.

Chenille Applique 

PRESS, then CUT between stitching lines, into 1/2" strips.

Chenille Applique

Chenille Applique

Chenille Applique


SQUARE up your favorite fat quarter you'll use for the pillow top; between 17" to 18" square.  DRAW or TRACE a design on the right side of the print.  The other two fat quarters will become the backing. 

Chenille Applique

Begin to STITCH, backstitching at the beginning and end of each strip.

Chenille Applique 
ALIGN the stitched line over the drawn lines to apply appliqué strips.

Chenille Applique

These bias strips are flexible and bend pretty easily around curves.  If you'd like, you can add a few pins to secure.  
 Chenille Applique
If 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!  It will all "come out in the wash" - literally!
Chenille Applique 
You can BRUSH out the design, or save that step for later.
 Chenille Applique
Make the pillow back flap by FOLDING the remaining two fat quarters in half horizontally.  Overlap a few inches with raw edges toward the outside. 
 Chenille Applique
Place the pillow top and back WRONG sides together, adjusting and trimming sides to make square.  PIN in place.
 Chenille Applique
STITCH through all layers, using 1/4" seam allowance.
Add remaining chenille strips to raw edges of pillow; front and back.  STITCH along center stitching line as you go. 
Chenille Applique 
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 small pieces.
 Chenille Applique
Use a stiff-bristle brush to fuzz up the chenille, or throw the whole project into the washer to get the look.  Since the print is cut on the grainline, expect some fraying.  TRIM off.
 Chenille Applique

Chenille Applique 
Add an 18" pillow form, and your Chenille Appliqué Pillow is complete!
Try using chenille strips to outline existing appliqué shapes, to outline blocks or add an accent border on your next quilt, to stitch words, or for any other "appliquétion" you can think of to add a little furry dimension to your project!

Meanwhile, you are always welcome to stop by Quiltscapes, online any time!

Happy Sewing!

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Category: Sewing Basics


  1. Deonn........Wow, how absolutely awesome is this. I had to pin it immediately so I will remember to make it! What a great way to use a favorite piece of fabric, or make accompanying pillow to complement a quilt project. I have this project in mind for a grandaughter's room ensemble that I am working on. Thank you so much!
    by Teresa
    March 12th, 2012 at 2:48 p.m.
  2. That is so beyond cute and a great tutorial!! :o) Thanks! xo
    by Kelli
    March 12th, 2012 at 4:21 p.m.
  3. Deonn ~ Thank you SO much for this tutorial. With all my machine embroidery things I've done since getting back into sewing of any type after years of not doing anything I have embroidery designs which utilize chenille. The only thing is that I have always bought mine pre-made because I had no idea how easy it was to made so your tutorial is wonderful. I always thought you had to layer 3-4 fabrics in order to create chenille; probably because of the chenille baby blanket tutorials I have. But I assume those use 3-4 layers of flannel to give the blankets some 'heft' to them where the applique techinques you are showing don't need to have such thickness? Is that a correct assumption? The pillow you made is such a pretty one and the chenille just adds that extra touch. Thank you very much.
    by VickiT
    March 13th, 2012 at 7:49 a.m.
  4. Thanks for your kind comments! To answer Vicki's question, I've tried this method using up to 6 layers of cotton fabric. Flannel also works, but don't use any more than 4 layers. And 1/2" wide strips are about as wide as you want to go. The reason 2 layers work so well is the fact that the color is saturated through each thread in the fabric, rather than just being printed on one side. And yes, using 2 layers gives a softer, gentler look, lol!
    by Deonn
    March 13th, 2012 at 8:26 a.m.
  5. Nice tutorial, Deonn. Very easy to follow instructions and so very, very cute! Can't ask for much more than that.
    by Bev
    March 13th, 2012 at 5:57 p.m.
  6. Oh my word! I am saying that out loud while reading this post- and I am in the office- hush my mouth (literally) I started reading this post thinking- ok I really like the idea but I only have a really dark burnt orange fuzzy chenille yarn and I want spring- hmmm wonder where I can find this stuff, and then you totally blew my mind and told me how to make my own- A.Mazing I am so gonna make me some chenille!
    by Bobbie
    March 14th, 2012 at 2:39 p.m.
  7. Thank you for posting such clear photos with your instructions. I have tried to make my own chenille using fabrics and they did not turn out fluffy. I am thinking, now, that I did not cut them on the bias. Will try that again. I have tried to find a role of bias-cut material that comes in a roll like ribbon but not finding it anywhere. Do you sell that?
    by Sue
    March 19th, 2012 at 2:07 p.m.
  8. this is adorable, thank you so much for the how to! I love the chenille around the edges!
    by janita Abbas
    March 27th, 2012 at 7:20 a.m.
  9. Super cute!,
    by Donna
    June 21st, 2012 at 7:49 p.m.
  10. So it's just flannel you used here for the solid? You wrote solid woven? Does quilters cotton work? Want to be sure to get the right stuff :)   Hi, Saralynn - The sample above used regular quilter's cotton in a solid color, meaning the fabric has been dyed through, rather than printed on one side.  Cotton flannel will work as well, and may produce a bit more "fluff".   ~Deonn
    by Saralynn
    November 20th, 2014 at 3:03 p.m.

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