Chenille Embellished Penguin

by Cathy Ellsaesser, posted on

Back in November, we held an Embellish event at our Aurora store. The end product after three days of using ScanNCut DX1, Luminaires XP1 and various cutting tools, the students ended up with a cute little two -block wall hanging. One of the techniques, that I didn’t know about, was making “chenille” to use as the filler for an applique.  I thought that was pretty neat, and want to share with those who couldn’t attend the event how to do that.

Traditional Chenille

Just a little bit of a caveat about chenille.

Traditional chenille is quite different from traditional embroidery, though it is very complementary. Many designs actually combine both applications. For traditional chenille, a special machine feeds yarns up through the bottom to create a raised textured surface that resembles carpet.

Photo of chenille flower

Another characteristic that makes chenille different from traditional embroidery is that most of the work is NOT done directly on the garment. Instead, the design is applied to a fabric background called scrim felt, which is then manually cut out and sewn to the garment like a patch.

So this blog describes a technique different than the traditional chenille described above.

Fabric Chenille

The Embellish event provided the embroidery files to create a chenille penguin. This technique uses stacks of fabric on top of the usual appliqué fabric.

  1. Place base appliqué fabric over placement line.
  2. Stitch in place.
  3. Trim around tack down line.
    Photo of base applique fabric stitched in place and trimmed prior to adding fabric for chenille
  4. Place a stack of fabric on top of base applique.
    Photo of base applique fabric placed prior to adding fabric for chenille
  5. Sew parallel lines of stitches to create a “channel” that can be cut to create the chenille.  Note: the lines are the next step in the embroidery sequence.
    Parallel lines sewn on top of stack of fabric to be used to make chenille
  6. Trim stack of fabric so that it just covers the base applique fabric.
    Note in the picture below the red dotted lines indicate where to cut the fabric stack to create the chenille.
    Photo of chenille applique showing where to slash the layers of fabric
  7. Using a chenille cutter, slash the fabric stack in between the parallel lines. Place the prong of the cutter under the last fabric in stack and roll forward to cut.
    Photo of Clover Chenille cutter  Photo of chenille cutter placed on stack of fabric to cut chenille channel
    Photo of applique with chenille channels slashed.
  8. To sew out the rest of the design, place a piece of Embellish Water Soluble Film on top of design to hold the fabric down when embroidering the remainder of the design.
    Photo of applique with wash away topping placed on top .
  9. Once design is completed, remove the wash away topping from the design.
    Photo of chenille penguin after features have been embroidered but before chenille is brushed out
  10. Spray the design lightly with water
    Photo of spraying design with water to loosen fabric before brushing out the chenille
  11. Take a stiff brush and brush the chenille to make it fringe out. I used a toothbrush, but a wire or other stiff brush would work better.
  12. Identify those areas that did not open and clip as necessary.
    Photo showing areas that are sewn down on the ends that need to be clipped to create the chenille.  Photo showing clipping areas that are sewn down on the ends
  13. Continue to brush out the fabric as needed.
  14. Completed penguin.
    Photo of completed chenille penguin


Embellish Maker

Embellish Maker software makes creating chenille appliques a snap. With a simple mouse click in the area you want to chenille, the software automatically creates the stitching lines to create the channels to cut.

Simply load artwork or design, select the area you want, and then select the chenille icon (red arrow below).Screen shot of selecting art work and chenille in Embellish Maker

Then, like magic, the object is filled with the sewing lines to create the cutting channels. It is so easy and quick!

Check out this video for more information.


Kimberbell has several design discs that are just made for chenille. Some are all about chenille and others use the technique as an accent in a few of the designs.

Hope Yoder has several design discs, including the Fuzzy Dice collection.

Here’s a freebie from Embroidery Garden that you use to make a chenille heart   just in time for Valentine’s day.

Here’s a coupon for a Kimberbell or Hope Yoder design disk that has chenille designs. If your local store doesn’t have one in stock, they can order it for you.

Coupon for 30 off chenille CDs from Hope Yoder or Kimberbell