Scrap busting Chenille Dish Towel

2014-02-02 09.24.00

Ever wondered what to do with all those scraps you have left over?  I’ve heard of this technique for making chenille for years, but had never actually tried it.  I’ve loved this idea, but have been daunted by the amount of time needed for all the stitching.  This small project, however: a dish towel, is do-able.

This towel will get softer with each washing, but feels great right from the start.  You must start with 100% cotton, linen or rayon.  Quilt weight is good but other loose wovens work great also.  You want something that frays nicely.

We will have a backing fabric, then 3 layers that will be cut into the chenille.  All the layers will be stitched together, then the chenille layers will be cut.  After a trip through the washer and dryer, they become fluffy and soft.

I started by laying one of my dish towels out on my backing fabric, and cut around it- 1″ bigger on all sides.  Then layer it up!  The backing fabric, on the bottom, should be right side down- it will be the back of the towel.  All the chenille layers should be kept about 3/4″ to 1″ away from the outer edges.

2014-02-01 14.24.38  I spread out a nice big blue piece, then filled in around with a woven plaid scraps. (Dark spots are from splashing water on the crinkled up piece so it would lay flat, not taking the time to press it.)

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Here is the first layer.  The scraps can overlap and a hole here and there is just fine.

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Here is the second layer, pieces of the same woven plaid.

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The third and top layer is mostly a print, with one piece of solid light blue.  All the layers are pinned down.  I used straight pins, but safety pins would be better if you don’t want to get stuck while you are sewing.

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Starting at one corner, begin sewing line after line on the diagonal.  I wasn’t exact about placement, I sewed the rows about 1/2″ apart, some wider and some more narrow.  Make sure you stitch off the edges of the chenille layers before you turn and move on to the next row.  You need to have open channels that you can slide your scissors in later.

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After a while I started working my way in from another corner.  When I got to my earlier stitching lines I either stopped there, turned around and started back again, or made a “V” shaped stitching line.  No rhyme or reason, just whatever struck me at the time.

2014-02-01 15.05.54You need to fill the whole area with diagonal lines, all about 1/2″ apart.  You could just start at one corner and fill the whole towel with all the lines going the same way.  Anything is fine.

2014-02-01 15.13.26 Then you cut between all those rows of stitching.  Sometimes if a new layer starts in the middle, your scissors might ride on top of it, and it might not get cut, so check now and again to make sure that all the chenille layers are getting cut.

2014-02-01 15.17.42Ready to finish the edges.  Turn in the backing fabric twice and stitch it down.  You should cover the edges of the chenille layers in this step.  Start in the middle of one of the sides.

2014-02-01 15.21.39To make a mitered corner you need to clip the point off the corner.

2014-02-01 15.22.03 Fold the clipped off corner in.  Stitching the edges down, when you come to the corner, it should look like this.

2014-02-01 15.22.28 Fold the other side in to meet at the corner, stitch.  You don’t have to make a mitered corner, just turning the edges in straight through the corners is fine as well.

2014-02-01 15.26.01 Once all the edges are stitched, your towel is ready for a trip through the washer and dryer.2014-02-02 09.24.38

2014-02-02 09.24.00So give it a try!  Pulling your handiwork out of the dryer for the first time is always fun; the whole process can be a little addicting.  The first towel I made took 1 1/2 hours, the second only 1 hour.  A bit of a time commitment, but I keep having to stop myself from starting another.

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5 thoughts on “Scrap busting Chenille Dish Towel

  1. Hi there – I’m a friend of Sara’s and she just showed this to me last week. I googled for a ‘how to’ and found your blog! What a wonderful idea this is – can’t wait to try it out.

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