This is a great appliqué project for people who are
afraid to try appliqué - no turned-under edges, no hand-sewing,
no fancy stitches. The only skills required are tracing,
cutting, gluing and machine-sewing straight lines!
The finished block after being washed and dried once. Notice
how appliquéd fabric antennae would not have survived
the process, but the drawn ones (permanent ink marker) did fine.
Pattern for Zephyr the Sundrop Butterfly can be purchased in the
a short time only, the 6" butterfly pattern is free as a pdf -
. You will need to enlarge the pattern at least 133% to 150% to make
it large enough for chenille applique.
- appliqué pattern of choice for
8" block or larger (small blocks with small
pieces are risky)
- fabrics for block pattern and background
- 2-3 muslin squares cut same size as block
- 1 square of a second background fabric cut
2-4" larger than block pattern
- freezer paper
- washable glue stick (make sure it's washable!)
- permanet ink marker (if pattern has a few small
- ruler and washable felt pen
- sharp scissors with narrow blades (or electric
scissors or rotary cutter and bias cutting
strips or chenille cutter)
Tip: Choose a block pattern with simple shapes that
are fairly large. Small pieces (less than 3/4 inch) will
not be anchored well by the stitching and will be lost after
a few washings. Small details can be drawn with a
permanent ink marker. In the example above, the
butterfly pattern was enlarged to fit on a 9" block and
the antennae were drawn with a black permanent ink marker.
1. Mark the straight of grain on all pattern
2. Trace pattern pieces and the straight of grain
lines on freezer paper. Label all pieces and cut
3. Launder and press fabrics if needed.
Tip: This is a great method for using fabrics with
minor blemishes - sun-faded streaks, ink bleeds, tea-dyes
that came out blotchy, etc.
Cutting the Fabric:
1. Cut 1 background and 2 muslin squares the size
of your chosen block.
2. Cut 1 square of fabric 2" larger than
your chosen block.
3. Position freezer paper templates on right side
of fabrics making sure the straight of grain is
correct; press. Cut out fabric, leaving templates
Getting the straight of grain correct is important
in achieving the final ruffly, raggedy look of chenille.
You can be off-grain a little,but not much. Make sure your
background squares are cut on the straight of
You can use other fabrics instead of muslin, but
keep in mind their colors will show and therefore affect
the appearance of the finished block.
Assembling the Block:
1. Position fabric pieces on the small
background square, starting with those that will
be on the bottom (underneath part or all of another
piece). Glue these in place with washable glue
stick. Remove freezer paper templates as you go.
2. Draw details on the fabric with a permanent
3.With a washable felt pen, draw a
diagonal line from one top corner of the block to
the opposite bottom corner.
4. Stack this block on top of the 2 muslin
5. Center your stacked squares on top of the
large background square. Pin in several places.
6. Machine stitch all layers along the diagonal
line. Backstitch at the beginning and the end to
7. Sew additional lines 1/4" to 1/2"
apart across the entire block. Remember to backstitch
at the beginning and end of each line. Clip threads.
The spots were cut a little larger than the patterns and so the pieces
overlap a little - for chenille appliqué, accuracy
of this type is not important!
Stitching lines are 1/4" apart on this butterfly.
Finishing the Block:
1. With sharp scissors, cut between the rows of
stitching - cut all layers of fabric except
the bottom layer. You might need to
cut through the top 2-3 layers first, then cut through
the remaining layers.
2. Immerse your block in a basin of water and
gently rub the top against itself (or toss it
into the washing machine with the laundry).
2. Toss wet block into the clothes dryer with
some towels or laundry. Most blocks will be dry
in 20-30 minutes (unless drying with full load of laundry).
When dry, your block is ready to use to decorate a garment,
a tote bag or another item - or make several chenille
blocks to make a quilt. (Note: Washing one or two blocks in the
washer is okay, but avoid washing lots of chenille blocks at a time in a
washer - the extra fibers that are washed away can be hard on the plumbing.)
Cut between each line of stitching.
Cut edges can be "roughed up" with an old toothbrush or a small stiff bristle
brush (I found mine in the automotive department at Wal-mart).
Copyright 2002 Sandy Harris. All rights reserved.
Sundrop Designs www.sundropdesigns.com