As I’ve mentioned before, I like to make baby blankets as gifts for friends and family with new babies. The quilted kind is fun, since I get to pick a bunch of cute coordinating fabrics, but I also love cut chenille blankets– they may be a bit more trouble to make (okay, a lot more trouble), but the results are just amazing.
Making cut chenille is easy, but time-consuming. You’ll need:
- Main fabric (the cute one that’s going to show)
- 4 layers of flannel in coordinating colors*
- Thread in a color that’s unnoticeable when stitched on top of your main fabric.
- Thread in a color that’s unnoticeable when stitched on top of your backing fabric.
- 1/2 yard fabric to make binding
*I’ve previously used three layers only, but then you sometimes end up seeing the back side of your main cotton fabric between the rows of chenille. I’d prefer not to, so I’m using four layers this time and only cutting through three of them.
1. Prewash your fabrics and iron them– I admit that I didn’t do this for previous blankets, but I heard recently that some flannels will bleed when washed and ruin the top fabric, which I would hate to have happen after all my hard work, so I did it this time.
2. Wind four bobbins with thread that matches the bottom flannel layer, so you don’t have to stop in the middle of your sewing to wind more– you’ll need them!
3. Lay out your bottom layer of flannel and smooth it out, then your next three layers, then your main fabric, face up– I used an adorable printed cotton from Spoonflower. Remember, two similar colors adjacent to each other won’t be as dramatic as contrasting colors, so pick your order accordingly. Keeping everything completely smooth, safety-pin the layers together at intervals so the stack stays together.
4. Next, using either disappearing fabric pen or painter’s tape, mark out lines at a 45 degree angle at intervals over the top layer. You’ll be using these as guides for your stitching lines to make sure they stay parallel– otherwise I find myself veering off by accident without noticing until it’s too late!
5. Using thread that is unobtrusive on your main fabric, stitch diagonal lines (45 degrees) about 5/8″ apart all across the surface of the blanket. You can go up to about 3/4″ but I wouldn’t do any wider than that. I like to start in the center and work my way outwards to ensure everything stays lined up. Keep in mind that you’ll have your main fabric facing up to ensure that there are no wrinkles– it’s okay if there are a few accidental wrinkles that get stitched into the flannel side, since they won’t show once they ruffle up along the channels.
I will note that this step can really do a number on your forearms– you’ll be pushing the fabric through your machine over and over again, keeping one end rolled up so it fits under the arm of the machine and using brute strength to keep it moving– otherwise the thickness of the flannel tends to make it want to stay put. I did this blanket over the course of a long afternoon with frequent breaks and my arms were still sore.
6. Using scissors or this life saving tool (half the price of the Olfa brand tool and actually more ergonomic in my opinion), cut the flannel between your stitching lines, going through only 3 of your layers of flannel– keep the last one intact to give strength to the blanket. It may help to snip a 1/2″ into your channel with scissors to give the rotary cutter something to start with. Trim blanket to your final desired dimensions.
7. Bind the edges of your blanket– I used bias-cut strips cut from orange polka-dotted quilting cotton. For a mind-blowing technique for cutting bias strips, check this out!
8. Now take your beautiful blanket and throw it in the washer and dryer. Check out the before and after!