Saturday, 2 March 2013

A new toy, a new technique, and a spectacular blister..............

At Wednesday club last week the lovely Totta introduced a couple of us to the wonders of Chenille quilts. How have I gone two years without coming across this quilting technique? So simple, yet such an effective result!

More importantly it's the perfect excuse to buy a new bit of kit - a Chenille cutter. I love a new toy!

There's a wealth of tutorials online for the uninitiated like me. But I was so keen to give it a go that jumped in without further investigations and made a few basic errors that could have been easily avoided. More about that to follow!

The other thing I'm liking about chenille quilting is that Its a great way to "stash-bust" some of my more suspect fabric choices for the lower layers. All that matters is that they give the right flash of colour.

These are the fabrics I chose for my mini sample quilt.

The ladybirds for the top (left over from my daughter's forgotten ladybird stage), miscellaneous bright fabrics to make up the lower layers and......... because I actually do like this fabric and I want to see it in its full glory.......... Michael Miller's Zinnia Path for the backing on the far left.

So off I went!

I layered my fabrics, basted with a tacking stitch, and quilted them all together using diagonal lines 1/4" apart, repeated across the whole piece.

With hindsight this was too close together. The main reason being there is less fabric to create the frilly chenille effect. Mistake number 1.

Next stage was the cutting.

Not as easy as I thought. Partly due to the fact I'd quilted too close together and partly because the initial cut is quite tricky.

I found the best way was to do a scissor snip to start each row then slip the chenille cutter foot under the fabric layers. That worked well but I discovered this after blistering my finger. Collective sympathetic noises please.

I also managed to cut across into a previously cut row when I was rushing towards the end. This shouldn't really be possible using the specialised cutter instead of scissors but I managed it! So my mini quilt became a bit more mini when I squared up after cutting. Ah well, that's what practices pieces are for.

Next a quick bit of binding. In fact very lazy binding since I didn't even mitre my corners on this sample piece. Yawn, yawn.........not my favourite stage of any quilt. Does anyone out there like doing binding? Am I missing a hidden joy?

I was desperate to get washing and tumbling my mini quilt to see if there was enough fabric between my quilted rows to make a pleasing effect. The answer is.............

Not too bad!

In fact better than I was expecting.

I washed and tumbled twice. A third time may have given a better texture but the top was starting to look a bit too washed out for my taste.

The result would be more sumptuous and the ladybird print more abstract with wider spacing between the quilted lines.

But overall I'm happy with this test piece and my lessons learnt. Plus I got rid of that hideous Mickey Mouse Halloween FQ. So its a win-win!

Plasters at the ready. Chenille cutter poised. I'm ready to create again.....


  1. Aawh, poor blistered finger. The nice thing about trying something new and making mistakes is that you will never forget it :-)
    I've never tried this technique but your little mini looks really sweet and squishy so maybe I should?

    1. It's alot of fun Elisabeth. I'm going to try another mini one with wider spacing soon. I was rummaging in a bargain FQ bucket for the lower layers. But the top will be some gorgeous Flee Market Fancy. I'd would love to see pics of what you make if you do try it. x

  2. thats amazing....why did i not see that sewing shop on my recent visit?....will find it when i come back!

    1. Just stopped by your blog Elsy. So many lovely makes! Are you local to Ely then? I can certainly recommend a return visit to check out Sew Much To Do.

  3. Hi, I'm Sue and I found you via Lily's Quilts. I have known about the chenille technique for while but have never given it a go. That looks lovely so I'm going to jump in and give it a try.

    1. Hi there Sue, I would love to see pics if you give chenille quilting a go. I'm planning on doing another mini next week with wider spacing so I will post for a texture comparison. Glad you like it.


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