Chenille
by Shannon Gifford
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  • Chenille

    Chenille is an incredibly soft, textured fabric. It has been described as "wearing a hug", and rightly so! Chenille yarns are fuzzy and soft, often knitted or woven in bright, beautiful colors. These yarns are also elegant when knitted in jewel or classic tones. And it's very easy to sew!

    Pretreatment:

    Some chenille can be machine washed in cool water; test your fabric to be sure. I recommend using a lingerie bag for any sweater knit of this type. Lay flat to dry, as you would do for a fine sweater.

    Needles and Thread:

    Stretch needles, size 75/11, are the best choices for chenille. Cotton/polyester or all polyester threads are recommended.

    Seams, Seam Finishes, and Hems:

    For a standard machine, use a zigzag stitch (2.0 width, 2.0-2.5 length) for construction. If you have a serger, use a 3 or 4 thread balanced stitch. Hems can be done by machine with a cover stitch, a twin needle hem (use a stretch twin, size 4.0/75), or by zigzagging the hem in place. Seams will require finishing, as chenille tends to shed. If you are not constructing with a serger, use a strip of mesh knit cut ¾ to 1 inch wide and wrap around the seams. Zigzag in place.

    Interfacing:

    Fusibles are not generally recommended for chenille, as they will crush the pile. For those areas where you might need to reinforce, use a layer of jersey knit or mesh knit in a comparable color to the chenille.

    Pattern Suggestions:

    Garments that look like sweaters: sweater coats, cardigans, tops, tanks, vests, tees, turtlenecks, shawls, ponchos, scarves

    Creative Possibilities:

    Chenille makes beautiful, textured trim, and looks particularly well when paired with velvet or boucle.

    Additional Tips:

    Use pattern weight when cutting your pattern from chenille; they will work much better than pins. You might consider using bulldog clips or spring-type clothespins to hold the seams together before stitching, as pins will get lost in the pile. And keep a vacuum cleaner handy!

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