A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Be A-Frayed, Be Very A-Frayed

I'm Helen Howes, and I'm your Guest Artist for March, on the entertaining and rather compulsive subject of Manipulating Fabrics.

Couple of things - I'm English, so my spelling may worry some of you.. think of it as Trans-Atlantic cultural fusion, or the Language of Shakespeare (he couldn't spell for toffee)

Anyway,  I thought I would start with a relatively new technique - sometimes called Faux Chenille, but also Slashing...

If you haven't seen this before you will think it's rather magical.. if you have, bear with me, as I have a few twists of my own...

Part the first

You need lots of fabric - layers and layers.. it works best with slightly loose weaves (not batiks), hand-dyes, woven colours, solids.. You will find that some printed fabrics look weird, as the white backs take over the design. Plain muslin (USA) or calico (UK) is also fantastic for this

I started with a set of Oakshott cottons (disclaimer, I do a lot of pattern-designing for Oakshott, so I tend to have a lot of their fabrics at my disposal. Such a tragedy...) These are "shot", that is, woven with one colour in the warp and one in the weft.. they shimmer lightly.
This was an odd pack that just came to hand, and has a close set of pinky-purply-orangey colours. I also chose a dark purple for the base colour.  In any set you will see most of the bottom and top colours.
Cut the layers to a shape of your choice (a bit bigger than the end required, as it can distort), then (Hint number 1) cut the bottom layer at least 1/2 an inch bigger all round. If these had Right Sides, they would all face UP..
(Hint number 2, press the layers on top of each other - they will stick together quite well)
Pin in a few places if desired

You will note that I have 10 layers.  Much of the online and printed advice about chenille assumes 5 or 6 layers at most.  This always seems rather skimpy, and you need to sew your lines a lot closer together... I'm lazy and fussy, so I use more cloth...

Sew on the diagonal, starting with a line across the middle from corner to corner.. The diagonal bit is important.  I always use a walking foot, but if you don't have one, pin the layers together and sew..
Sew parallel lines across the fabrics. I'm using the width of my walking foot as a guide here, about 1/2 an inch.  If you have fewer layers, sew closer; more, further apart... DO NOT sew across the ends of the channels, please

All sewn. Now, those of you of an Observant Nature (hands up, if you aren't paying attention?) will notice that my extremely Low Boredom Threshold set in on the second half, and I sewed some different diagonals..

As long as you are working on that diagonal idea, you can play.. Note that the lines that go in and out of the middle are continuous.. You don't want odd thread ends or weak spots anywhere.  Use good thread, cotton or poly, and a small stitch. Check your tension is good both sides

Now you need to cut between the lines of stitching.  I did this sample with scissors, we'll look at the Technology next time.  You will, at this point, understand why the bottom layer is bigger, as you don't want to cut that one.  It makes it easy to get the scissors in the Right Place
Now, take your sample to the sink and Wash It.. I use a little dish-washing liquid and warm water, and rub gently.. Big pieces can be machine-washed, but I don't usually feel the need.. Rinse, and dry

The result is just sooooo tactile..
More tomorrow


  1. Interesting.. I have never tried this with so many layers, it looks so much richer than my previous efforts. I feel the need to go away and try again!

  2. This is a technique I dearly love. I even designed a jacket pattern to use it. I have a small swatch I did as a sample. I realized with insetting it in an opening of another fabric I am going to have a fabulous piece to frame. So many possibilities! Looking forward to hearing more of what you do with it.

  3. Think I will try this. I have a funny feeling this is going to be a fun month.

  4. Very useful article as I am teaching this at a workshop in two weeks time. Like Heather I have never created chenille with so many layers but will have a go.

    Shipwrecked Quilter


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