I have Variations In Chenille by Nanette Holmberg and her second book on chenille, New Directions in Chenille. They are both very inspirational, but I didn’t find very much new information in NDiC, and now that Ms. Holmberg has her patterns on her website, unless you collect books for their own sake, I don’t recommend that you get both books.
I had problems with thread breakage, probably, because I wound a plastic bobbin too tight. The bobbin thread stretched and the plastic bobbin wasn’t strong enough to stand up to the pressure placed on it by the stretched thread. Anyway, if you do a chenille jacket, be very careful in checking for broken threads. When I pulled this one out of the dryer, I had to make repairs which were made more difficult by the fact that I didn’t have all of the fabrics from the stack. It also helped that the rows that broke had back stitches in them, so only short sections of the stack came loose. I repaired the jacket by cutting half inch strips of bias and hand stitching them down. I used a wire brush to fluff the repairs. I think I was very successful. You can’t see the repairs unless you closely examine the jacket.
If you scroll down, you can see the samples that I made before constructing the jacket. I agree with ViC that it is very important to make samples before making the chenille for a garment. Making a chenille garment is a major time commitment. It’s also very boring sewing all those rows. I doubt that I will make an entire garment from faux chenille again.
I used Kwik Sew
2829, a dolman sleeved jacket, for the pattern, with a few changes:
- No interfacing. The base layer is a heavy denim which I don’t think needs interfacing like a light or medium weight fabric, and I didn’t line the jacket.
- No lining.
- Because there was no lining, I had to use bias tape to bind the edges. I made the tape from the teal fabric that I used in the stack.
- I use snaps for the closure instead of buttons as called out in the pattern instructions. You can see the lower snap in the picture of the jacket front, but I was successful in hiding the upper snap under the chenille.
I wanted to use fabrics exclusively from my stash. In ViC, it says that both denim and Warm&Natural are effective in a chenille stack. I happened to have quite a bit of a striped denim and Warm&Natural.
Sample 1 (above) This is the first sample that I made. From top to bottom, it includes a purple gauzy rayon, a fuschia rayon, a stiped denim with the stripe up, and Warm&Natural on a denim base.
I did not find this to be satisfactory. Although, in hindsight, it was the best of the first round of samples (1-3).
Sample 2 I switched the purple and fuschia rayons, and I turned the denim stripe down. I decided that I liked the purple on top. The purple rayon frays very nicely, but is so lightweight, that it get obscured under heavier fabrics. The denim fluffs better in this orientation.
I’m still not satisfied.
Sample 3 I did a sample with the denim on top. Even though I knew I wasn’t going to make a jacket with the denim on top, I wanted to know how it was (not) fluffing. The painted stripe on the denim clearly inhibits fluffing.
At this point, I decide to reread ViC. I realize that I had misunderstood the directions. I thought that 5 layers total including the base was the recommendation. Instead, it is 5-6 layers plus a base fabric. After discussing this with the Wearable Art Plus mailing list, I decided to add tissue lame, from my stash, to the stack, drop the Warm&Natural, and add 2 fabrics, yet to be purchased.
Sample 4 From top to bottom, purple rayon, gold lame, pink plaid cotton, fuschia rayon, and dark teal rayon, denim with stripe down, on denim base. The gold lame did not fray in the dryer. I had to work each row by hand. You can see the difference very clearly in the detail view to the right. I decided that I didn’t like having the lame that dominant in the stack, and I didn’t like having to work each row by hand.
Sample 5 Just for kicks, I did a sample with the cotton plaid on top. It’s interesting, but I think for the cotton to work on top, the rows need to be 3/8 of an inch apart. Mine are 1/2 inch apart.
Sample 6 From top to bottom, purple rayon, teal rayon, fuschia rayon, pink cotton, and pink lame on a denim base. There may be a layer of denim in the stack, but at some point, I decided to drop it from the stack and only use it on the base. I’m not sure why this didn’t fluff as much as the next sample.
Sample 7 From top to bottom, purple rayon, teal rayon, fuschia rayon, pink cotton plaid, and pink lame on a denim base with the strip down.
I decided to throw caution to the wind, and make the jacket without making a test square with purple rayon, teal rayon, fuschia rayon, pink cotton, gold lame, on a denim base stripe up.