Chenille makes me think of cosy bedspreads with soft drills of furry fabric. My children inherited a chenille baby blanket. The oldest used it to wrap dolls and a cat (a real one) amongst other things, up in. When the second child came along as few years later he suffered the same fate as the dolls and cat. It then became a much loved necessity and was cuddled for many years until it disintegrated into a knotted rag!
My children were always more interested in hamsters and TV than making things and would never ask how to make a chenille blanket but I do remember asking my own mum howto do this. Unfortunately she didn’t know and with no internet back in the day, I had to wait a long time to find out!
My first attempt at this technique was not a great success, but as always the first attempts are experiments, a way to get a feel for the technique.
a) I used 5 layers of material which included nylon, organza and thin cotton. Using a sewing machine I sewed several rows of wavy lines. I did this using straight stitches in some rows and zigzags in others. I used sharp pointed scissors to ‘slash’ the material and then rubbed it vigorously by hand. The result was not at all pleasing and lots of rubbing had to be done to get a response from the fabrics. I tried using a cat brush but all this did was pull out long messy strands of the organza. Rubbing it the way I did resulted in fabric coming away from under the stitching.
b) There was plenty room in the centre of the cloth so I turned it over and repeated the slashing process. In this case, appart from similar problems to a) I think the space between the two lines of stitching was too narrow. There were points where I cut right through all layers too.
c)After doing some research into using this technique I made a smaller sample using 1 layer of light cotton , 5 layers of 100 percent cotton and one layer of nylon material to give a little variety to the colour as most of the others were very similar. I used a narrow zigzag stitch to make two diagonal lines of stitching which were sewn over twice for added strength. They were about 1 cm apart. I slashed this and adgitated the material by rubbing vigorously. This sample was much more successful.
d)I then started thinking more about design for this chapter.
I used the asymmetrical star shape as the centre focal point of the piece.
In my sketchbook I drew several designs using straight, horizontal and radiating lines. They looked okay but I got a bit carried away and started thinking about creating a 3D looking design. It looks good on paper but the actual design lost something in translation!
d)i. I initially left out some of the design factors e.g. dense lines of thread above the star and orange lines of threads alternately placed between purple ones.
d)ii I added these later to see if it improved the design but I don’t think it made much difference!
The last piece was ok but I could see there was room for improvement. I changed the motif I was using to the oneI always fall back to! I made this sample smaller too. This was definitely much more successful in creating a neat, soft chenille effect. I had cut around the inner motif and left it without stitching which has resulted in it looking a bit hidden. Looking at it now I think outlining it in a stronger colour, hand sewing or padding it would enhance this. I may return to this soon!
I had some material left over from e) which was a nice size for a small sample so to prove the success of the last piece was not a fluke I sewed another design this time using only one diamond shape and cutting the motif not the outside spaces. I had lost my little pointed scissors so I really did slash this one! It feels great and looks quite interesting too.