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Everything You Need To Know About Chenille Fabric

Everything You Need To Know About Chenille Fabric

Are you looking for a durable, luxurious, and interesting fabric to use in your home? Well, why not try chenille? Considered a close sister to velvet, this soft and uniquely textured textile is commonly used to create items for the home, like curtains and cushions. To help you decide if you should use chenille in your décor, we go over everything you need to know about chenille fabric in this introductory guide. By the end of this article, you’ll be a chenille know-it-all!

What Is Chenille?

Chenille is a soft, fuzzy fabric with a unique pile. Its name is derived from the French word for caterpillar—yes, the grimy, wormy bug that hangs out in your garden and turns into a butterfly! This is because its piles have a ribbed, woolly look, just like its namesake. Chenille is made from a wide range of fibers, including polyester, linen, cotton, silk, and wool; polyester is the most commonly used.

Unlike age-old textiles like linen, chenille is a relatively recent invention. It was first used in the 1780s in France. It was created as an alternative to the knit stitch, which was time-consuming and costly to create. Making Chenille yarn using the leno method was easier and quicker, alleviating time and cost woes.

But it wasn’t until the 1800s that chenille was first used as a fabric. Scotsman Alexander Buchanan is credited with creating the chenille textile, which he used to make women’s clothing, such as shawls. Later in the century, the duo of James Templeton and William Quigley further developed the chenille-weaving method so they could use the material to make rugs. Even later, craftswoman Catherine Evans revolutionized the process while searching for a way to make bedsheets from the fabric. Since then, the process for making chenille has been standardized, and the material is now used to create everything from clothing to home décor.

How Is Chenille Made?

Chenille is made using a standardized method. To start, short pieces of chenille yarn are overlaid on top of two central yarn strands and interwoven. The interwoven pieces are formed into loops and cut into a fuzzy pile. To keep these piles from loosening, the core of the yarn is filled with a low-melt material like nylon. Finally, the yarn is steamed and then woven into fabric.

The Pros & Cons of Chenille

Like all textiles, chenille has its pros and cons. Learn more about the pros and cons of chenille by reading on!

The Pros

  • Chenille is soft to the touch.
  • Chenille has a beautiful drape, making it an ideal material for curtains.
  • The piles catch the light, giving chenille a shiny, iridescent glow.
  • When properly cared for, chenille is extremely durable.
  • Chenille is versatile. You can use it for bedsheets, curtains, rugs—you name it!
  • Chenille comes in a wide variety of patterns and colors, so you can customize it to your needs.

The Cons

  • Chenille fades quickly when exposed to sunlight.
  • Chenille isn’t stain- and scratch-proof, so sometimes, it is not the best choice for pet owners and parents of messy kids.
  • Chenille isn’t stretchy.
  • Chenille takes longer to clean. You need to handle it very, very gently, so most opt to have it professionally cleaned.

If you don’t mind dealing with a bit of extra maintenance, chenille is a warm, soft, and glamorous material for the home. But pet owners, parents, and busy folk may want to steer clear.

5 Ways To Use Chenille in the Home

You can use chenille for various projects around the home. Here are just a few ideas for incorporating it into your home décor:


Chenille is soft and warm. You can turn it into blankets that are perfect for chilly fall and winter weather.


You can also use chenille for throw pillows. These will make beautiful, cozy add-ons for your couch or bed.


Because chenille has an excellent drape and is decently thick, it’s a popular material for curtains. Plus, it will catch the light from your windows and give off a soft sheen.

Chairs & Couches

Because chenille is durable, it works fantastically for upholstery.

Carpets & Rugs

Chenille is used to make carpets and rugs. This warm, plush material feels amazing under the feet.

Of course, you can also use chenille to make clothes! If you’re making chenille décor for your home, why not make a fancy robe or shawl to match?

How Do You Clean Chenille?

Chenille needs a bit more TLC than other materials, but caring for it doesn’t have to be hard. Using these instructions, you can keep your chenille in pristine condition:

When cleaning chenille at home, you need to be gentle. Once a week, clean your chenille by using a soft-bristled brush to remove hairs and dust from the fabric. After carefully brushing, use a vacuum attachment to remove the remaining soils.

While performing general maintenance on chenille is easy, spot treating is a bit trickier. Here’s what to do if your chenille gets stained. To start, do not throw your chenille in the wash! Chenille has pile yarns that can come undone during washing, even if you wash it on low and cold settings. Instead, you’ll need to spot treat by hand. To do so, grab a dry cotton cloth and blot—don’t rub—the stain. Once you’ve removed most of the moisture, you can clean the area further using a foam or spray solvent-based fabric cleaner. Then, using the cotton cloth, dab the spot once more. Repeat the above steps until the stain fades away.

If your chenille is covered in stubborn stains that won’t budge, you may need to invest in professional cleaning.

We hope this guide on what you need to know about chenille fabric has helped you see the pros of this luxurious, one-of-a-kind material. If you want to use fuzzy, versatile chenille for your next upholstery project, come shop at the Fabric Outlet. We sell textured chenille upholstery fabric by the yard. With a variety of patterns and colors to choose from, you can easily find the best fit for your personality and home.

At the Fabric Outlet, we offer the following chenille fabrics:

  • Elliot
  • Curious
  • Merit
  • Nico
  • Cachet
  • District
  • Lolita
  • Empire
  • Junction
  • Distinction
  • Santana
Everything You Need To Know About Chenille Fabric