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Lap Blanket with DIY Chenille Accents
Traditional chenille is created with a soft, feathery yarn and adds a wonderfully fluffy texture and dimension to a project. Thanks to Dritz Quilting, you can add the look of chenille to your next project with a minimum of prep time on your part. Dritz Make Your Own Chenille is a ⅝” wide, 100% cotton fabric, cut on the bias. The looser weave of the fabric and its raw edges allow you to stitch it on, then simply wash-fluff-and-dry to create the fuzzy feel of chenille. We added six looping rows of scallops across across a snuggly lap blanket. And here’s your interesting fact for the day: “chenille” comes from the French word for caterpillar.
The Dritz Make Your Own Chenille trim is available in several bright colors plus black and white. We used a rich royal purple for our lap blanket, which was the perfect compliment to the color palette of our front and back quilting cotton panels.
The product comes on 20 yard rolls, which makes it easy to apply, especially when following a drawn guide line. Since our rows were quite long, we found it best to simply leave the trim on the roll, slowing unwinding it along the scallops, then trimming once we’d gone all the way across.
After several wash-fluff-and-dry tests, we decided to use three layers of the trim to create the “fluffy-ness factor” we liked best. You can use a single layer or stack multiple layers to get your favorite look. The package instructions suggest stitching each layer independently, but we found it worked just as well to stitch down the center through all the layers at once. Again, testing first on scraps is always our recommendation.
We provide a free downloadable Scallop Template below that you can use to get the pretty looping effect of our doubled rows. It reminds us a bit of the floral swags you often see in ornate wood or stone carvings.
Once you’ve stitched the chenille trim in place, pop the project into the washing machine to stimulate the ragging action. As you’ll see in the instructions below, we wanted a very fluffy look and so jump started the process by fluffing up the trim with a fine wire brush when it was just out of the washer. A stiff toothbrush or nail brush could also work. We then tossed the panel into the dryer to complete the effect.
One thing to keep in mind if you have a high-efficiency, front-loading washer: these machines use less water and energy, reducing the agitation, which can also reduce the chenille effect. In this case, the “wire brush” technique above may be even more important – or you could run it through a second wash cycle. If machine washing isn’t possible, Dritz recommends wetting with plain water either by submerging in the sink or misting with a spray bottle. Make sure the strips are completely wet. You will need quite a bit more manual fluffing if not using a traditional washer and dryer.
Our blanket design has a soft batting core sandwiched between two layers of coordinating quilting cotton, and it features a wraparound self-binding. What’s that? We were hoping you’d ask! It means the back panel is cut a bit larger than the front panel and then cleverly folded and wrapped around to the front. It gives you the look of a fully bound edge without making bias binding strips. Sewing hack!
To echo the texture of the chenille, we added a chubby yarn tassel to each corner of our lap blanket. We show you how to insert these prior to edgestitching the wraparound binding into place.
Our Lap Blanket finishes at approximately 41” x 41”.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional but helpful when working with layers – if appropriate, you can also engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the Janome AcuFeed™ Flex available on many of our Janome studio machines
Fabric and Other Supplies
- Apx. 36 yards of Dritz® Quilting Make Your Own Chenille trim (two packages); we used purple
- 1¼ yards of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the front; we originally used Re-Tweet in Aurora from the Spirit Animal collection by Tula Pink for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- 1¼ yards of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the back/binding; we originally used Rosa in Violet from the Menagerie collection by Cotton + Steel
- 1¼ yards of 45”+ wide low-loft batting
- All-purpose thread to match fabric and chenille trim
- ONE small skein of coordinating yarn for the four tassels; we used lavender polyester yarn
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil; it is important to be able to clearly see all your marking lines – choose a color that shows up well against the front fabric but that will also easily wipe/wash away or vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Tape measure
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- Large safety pins
- Large eye needle for yarn
- Cat brush or similar fine metal comb to help fluff up the Chenille
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- Download and print the Scallop Template.
IMPORTANT: This template is ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on the sheet to confirm your printout it to scale.
- Cut out the two template pieces along the solid lines. Using the arrows printed on the pattern pieces, assemble the two pieces to create the full scallop. Butt together the pieces, do not overlap, and tape.
- From the front fabric (Tula Pink Spirit Animal in our sample), fussy cut ONE 44” x 44” square.
NOTE: You are pretty much working with the full yardage; likely trimming away just the selvedge to get your 44” width. So simply center side to side. For the height, you will be marking for the scallops from the bottom raw edge up, eventually trimming the excess from the top. If you have a strong horizontal motif as we did, concentrate on centering this motif within your top to bottom measurement, knowing you will be sacrificing the motif along the top with the final trim to size.
- From the back/binding fabric (Cotton + Steel Menagerie in our sample), fussy cut ONE 44” x 44” square. Again, you are likely simply trimming off the selvedge side to side.
- From the batting cut ONE 42” x 42” square
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Marking for the scallops
- Fold the front fabric square in half. If you are working with a directional fabric, you should be folded lengthwise so that when folded it is 22” wide x 44” high.
- Working from the bottom raw edge, use a tape to measure up 13” along the center fold. Place your clear ruler horizontally at this 13” height.
- Find the Scallop Template. Place the center arrow of the Template along the fold. The top straight edge of the Scallop Template should be aligned with the bottom edge of the ruler – in other works, at 13”. Pin the Template in place.
- Trace the outer half circle (the outer curve) of this first scallop.
- Shift the template to the right, keeping the top edge aligned with the ruler so the 13” horizontal line remains straight.
- The inner points of the scallops should come together as shown in the photo below.
NOTE: As shown below, you can certainly print additional Templates in order to create the full row of scallops without having to move the one pattern.
- Continue moving across the panel in this same manner. You should end up with three full scallops and a half scallop at each side edge.
- You’ll go across once more to create the double scallop. Simply follow the first row of scallops, but drop down 1½”.
- Repeat to create a row of double scallop markings at 24½” up from the bottom raw edge and at 36” up from the bottom raw edge. The drawing below shows you all the scallop measurements on the full 44” square.
Placing, layering, and stitching the trim
- Find your first roll of chenille trim. Starting at the raw side edge, center the tape over your drawn scallop lines. Start with the upper line of the double scallop.
NOTE: We worked from the top double scallop down to the bottom.
- At the “peak” of each scallop fold the tape on itself to keep a crisply centered line.
- Follow the scallop line all the way across the panel, pinning in place as you go. Trim the end of the Chenille trim flush with the raw side edge of the panel.
NOTE: We found it easier to keep the chenille trim on the roll – not cutting it until each row was pinned in place.
- Go back across to pin the bottom row of the double scallop into place, once again following your drawn lines, overlapping at each peak.
- Now, go back across two more times along each row to add two additional layers to each row. Align the layers one right on top of the other, re-pinning each time – first through two matching layers, and then through the three matching layers.
- With three layers pinned in place for your first double row of scallops, move down the panel and repeat to layer and pin for the other two double rows of scallops.
- Thread the machine with thread to best match the chenille trim in the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- We recommend using a Walking or Even Feed foot or engaging your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system. This is what we did; using the Janome AcuFeed™ Flex feeding system on our Skyline S7 throughout the remainder of the project.
- Stitch the top row of trim in place first. You are stitching through all three layers at once as well as the fabric panel itself, removing the pins as you go.
- Pivot at the upper joining point of each scallop.
- Stitch the complete top row first, then go back across to stitch the complete bottom row.
- Repeat to stitch the two remaining double scallop rows of chenille trim in place.
Washing, fluffing, and drying
- When all the chenille trim is stitched in place, toss the panel in the washing machine. Wash in cool water with delicate soap on a standard cycle.
- We recommend also tossing in the back/binding panel so everything is treated in the same manner. This way, any shrinking that might happen is happening to both layers at once.
- When the wash cycle is finished, remove the panels. Set aside the back/binding panel for a minute or simply put it in the dryer to wait for its front panel friend. Do not turn on the dryer yet.
- Lay out the damp front panel right side up and flat on your work surface. The chenille trim will have ragged up a bit already, but we suggest giving it a further jump start prior to the final drying.
- Using a fine metal brush, a cat brush works well, fluff up each double row of chenille scallops.
- When properly fluffed, it should look similar to the photo below.
- Toss both panels into the dryer and dry on low heat for about 60 minutes.
- Remove the panels. Press both panels flat to remove any bad wrinkles. Do not press directly on the chenille. Work around it with the iron.
Trimming and layering
- Trim the front panel down to the finished 41” x 41” square. We can’t give you an exact amount to trim off because how your panel shrinks might be different than ours. Instead, simply measure to get to 41” x 41” As mentioned above, you’ll trim an equal amount from each side.
- The excess height should be trimmed from the TOP raw edge only. So measure from the bottom raw edge up 41” and trim away the excess along the top, creating a nice straight edge.
- Find the batting square. Place it flat on your work surface.
- Center the trimmed top panel on top of the batting. Pin together the layers with the large safety pins.
- Make sure both layers are as smooth and flat as possible, then trim the batting flush with the top panel on all four sides.
- Using your clear ruler and a marking pen or pencil, draw a vertical line through the scallop peaks from top to bottom.
- This means you will have four vertical lines of quilting as shown in the original drawing above.
- Set aside the top two layers.
Prepare the back/binding panel
- Find the back/binding panel, which should have been pressed flat after washing and drying.
- Trim it down to 43” x 43”.
- Flip the panel so it is wrong side up.
- Fold back and press ½” along each of the four sides of the panel. Then fold an additional ½” along each four sides. Press well in order to set two visible crease lines.
- Unfold at one corner so you can see the crease lines.
- Fold in the point of the corner at a diagonal, matching the inner corner of the crease lines. Press well.
- Fold in again, matching the crease lines along each side with this second fold.
- Re-fold along one side…
- … and then along the opposite side to create the pretty corner point. At each step, press firmly so you will be able to easily see and re-follow all your original folds after layering the front/batting in place.
Add the front panel, quilt, then wrap and edgestitch to finish
- Unfold the edges of the back/binding all around so the crease lines are visible. Smooth out the center of the panel and lay it wrong side up on your work surface. It should be nice and flat.
- Find the top panel/batting. It might be easiest to fold or roll the panel/batting to make it easier to position.
- Place the top panel/batting right side up on the back/binding panel, which means your front and back are wrong sides together with the batting sandwiched between. Align the edges of the top panel/batting with the inner crease lines of the backing/binding on all sides, being particularly careful to get the corners set in straight.
- Open up the safety pins and re-pin through all three layers.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the top panel fabric in the top and to best match the back panel fabric in the bobbin. Keep a slightly lengthened stitch
- First stitch along each of your four drawn vertical center lines through all the layers. Again, we recommend a Walking or Even Feed foot or to engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system. As shown in the photo below, it is also helpful to add standard straight pins across the line for further stabilization of the layers.
- Re-fold the edges of the back/binding along the original crease lines.
- This means you are wrapping the backing over the top panel, creating a self-binding. Pin in place.
- Make the four optional tassels for the corners. We used our clear ruler, which was 3.5”, as a wrapping template.
- Finish each tassel, making sure to leave one of the header tails long to attach into the corner.
NOTE: If you are new to making your own tassels, check out our full tutorial. And remember, they are optional.
- Thread the longer tassel tail through a large-eye needle.
- Un-pin and unfold one corner. You are just opening up the pretty point at the corner. Insert the needle through the edge of the binding as shown below.
- Cinch the head of the tassel right up against the fold of the fabric.
- Open up all the corner fold all the way so you can see the corner of the top panel/batting. Secure the yarn tails through the top panel/batting with a double knot, but make sure you are only knotting through the top panel/batting. Don’t go through the back panel; you don’t want anything visible from the back.
- Trim away the excess yarn, then re-fold and re-pin in place.
- Repeat to add a tassel to each of the other three corners.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to match the back/binding in both the top and bobbin. Keep the slightly lengthened stitch. Edgestitch around all four sides of the blanket, pivoting at the corners.
- We also stitched diagonally into each corner to both seal the corner and further anchor the tassels in place.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild
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This is a beautiful project!
This is a beautiful project! The finished blanket is just perfect to cozy up in this coming winter. It would make a wonderful holiday gift. Thank you for creating a project that uses the Dritz chenille, I’ve always wanted to try it but was at a bit of a loss as to how exactly to use it!
@2BlackCats – Thank you so
@2BlackCats – Thank you so much! The Chenille trim is really fun — and super easy. Check back in if you give the project a try. We’d love to see your results.