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Vintage Rescue: Chenille Bedspread

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We're excited to debut our new Sew4Home series: Vintage Rescue, a category of inspiring ways to recycle, re-use or redesign something old to create a great new look and perhaps salvage something meaningful. For our first article, I thought I'd start with a personal story. It involves my always-a-challenge-to-buy-for sister's impending birthday, cleaning the attic to move, and a much-loved and almost-lost rosebud chenille bedspread.

Certain items leave an indelible mark on your childhood memory banks: a special blanket, a tattered teddy bear, a chipped cup with the faded picture of a kitten. For my big sister, one of her treasures was a beautiful white chenille bedspread sprinkled with a field of delicate rosebuds. As long as I can remember, that bedspread was the focal point of her room. I've gotten past my jealousy over that room ... mostly. A room that featured a graceful white canopy bed with matching dresser and night stands. Yeah, right.

So, imagine my surprise, when I came across the bedspread while cleaning out my attic for an impending move. It was August, and dang hot up there, so at first I thought it might be a mirage. But no, it was the bedspread alright, stuffed into a cardboard box in a back corner. It was seriously dirty, torn in several places, worn in several more, a mere shadow of its former self. Chances are it was used to wrap up something precious years earlier when I'd moved out on my own, and then had bummed around with me through the years until it ended up covered with cobwebs in a hot, dusty attic box. I was about to toss it into the "things to throw away" pile, when I held it up and noticed there were several places that still looked okay.

"Hmmmmm," I said to myself, because no one else was crazy enough to be up in that hot attic with me. "I wonder if I could make something out the parts of the fabric that are still in good shape?" "Pillows," I answered. "I could make her some cool pillows for her birthday." Then, I headed downstairs with the bedspread, and to get a glass of ice water, because if I was starting to carry on conversations with myself, could heat stroke be far behind?

I washed and dried the spread in hot water with a touch of bleach. It came out fluffy and white. I then laid it out flat on the floor to take stock of which areas could be salvaged. Not only were there lots of holes and tears, there were also places where the chenille had been worn smooth. But there were some fairly large chunks of cloth that were perfectly fine.

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I picked out the pillow shapes I wanted to make: two round and one square "envelope" style and cut out paper patterns. I then placed the patterns on the best parts of the fabric, moving them around until I had a front and back for each shape. The rosebuds ran in very distinct lines, so I had to be careful to keep the lines parallel when I cut out the pattern pieces.

Since chenille itself is a classic look, I thought a classic pillow design was fitting. I chose color coordinated cording for the round pillows with a contrasting covered button in a soft pink flannel. The envelope style pillow features a row of playful pom poms along the lapped edge.

My sister LOVES her rosebud pillows, and so does her rescued kitty, Chloe (seen above). They hold a place of honor on her current bedspread. She says they make her smile every time she looks at them. That's the great thing about a Vintage Rescue project. "Found Fabric" could be hiding in the most unlikely spot just waiting to be turned into something memorable:

  • Grandma's old handkerchiefs
  • A worn out sweater from Goodwill
  • A souvenir scarf
  • Cotton tea towels
  • Old wool coats and blazers
  • Vintage slips and lingerie
  • Favorite t-shirts
  • And on, and on, and on ....



Comments (19)

Tillie said:
Tillie's picture

Love your projects... This one especially.  Smiling at the heart warming nostalgic feeling it gave me.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Tillie - Ahhh... thank you so much. It is a pretty good story with a very happy ending 

Adams said:
Adams's picture

I just made baby bibs for my grandson out of my mother's old  chenille bedspreads.  I used a corduroy jumper that my daughter wore in first grade on the other side to make it reversible.

gracielynn said:
gracielynn's picture
Love the idea..
BUT tell me how on earth you got my cat.. The Duchess to pose for you?
wow.. really looks like my cat ..
Nellie57 said:
Nellie57's picture
Hi,Love Love Love your pillows,one question if you make odd size pillows how do you do your inserts.Do you just use wadding or cut a bought one to size.Thank You
agamble said:
agamble  's picture
Reading these comments makes me remember the sweet days of summer when we'd take a nap on our chenille bedspreads, window sheers might be blowing in the breeze and you'd just nap in complete bliss. Then wake up with funny squiggly lines on your face! Good memories. I'm hoping someone will have some ideas posted here about trying to remove stains. I've a great Cabin Craft brand spread from the 40's and it's just perfect except....the middle row has a stain the spoils it. It's just solid rows of tufts, one color, light chamois color. That stain just ruins it! Still, it's a keeper.
AussieTraceyMcD said:
AussieTraceyMcD's picture
Love the cushions, love that Chloe loves them too! She is gorgeous smilies/smiley.gif
SylviaF said:
SylviaF's picture
I collect old bedspreads whenever I see them at yardsales or at a thrift shop. I also found a very cute chenille jacket recently, and thought, I could make some jackets or vest out of these. Keep the ideas coming ladies.
JulieG said:
JulieG's picture
Thanks Liz! I've just recently found this site and I'm having a ball!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi JulieG -- I just made up these pillows -- so no particular pattern. This article was just kind of a "here's a really good recycling idea." As mentioned above, take a stroll through our pillows and cushions projects and maybe you can find something similar you like. Just click on the projects tab above, then select Pillows & Cushions. Regarding those poms, I found them at a local retail outlet here in Portland, OR called Fabric Depot. I got it a number of years ago, so my best advice would be to search online. I did a quick search and found something similar at this site:


Have fun!
JulieG said:
JulieG's picture
I LOVE these pillows! I have just inherited a chinelle bedspread from my grandmother and I think this would be a wonderful idea to use it for. Can I ask what size pillows you ended up with and where I can find the pattern/instructions to make the envelope pillow (just love that one!)? Also, where you bought your poms for the envelope pillow.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
What a great idea! We love "found fabric" projects. It always makes me feel doubly-clever, like I'm giving the fabric a new life.
hodgesbutton said:
hodgesbutton's picture
I like this idea. I found two beautiful lace twin bedskirts at a yard sale and each had a tear in one side. As I kept looking them over I realized I could lay them out and the tears were on the "inside" part that I could cut off and then sew the rest together to make one queen size bedskirt. It looks great on my bed now. The rest I am gonna make some pillows with. I love to find great stuff like this and recreate something else with it.
Ladyblades said:
Ladyblades's picture
Maybe a jacket with the peacock on the back and a soft pastel brished denim for the rest of it? I have a passion for rescuing fabrics and making them into other pieces that will be loved for years to come. Lynn
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
smilies/grin.gif Is it a big peacock in the center? Maybe you could make it into a simply throw blanket. You could cut out a large square with the peacock as the center focal point. A soft fleece for the back, like a Minky, would be super cuddly and work well with the chenille. Thanks for visiting.
sandytn said:
sandytn's picture
smilies/smiley.gifsmilies/wink.gifsmilies/smiley.gif I LOVE this!!!! I have an old bedspread that belonged to my aunt. Its a chenille with a peacock......I`ll keep looking, maybe I can find a project for it.