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What is Chenille-It

At the end of last year, I was able to make a dream of mine come true; I attended Quilt Market. Each year, my sister and I say, “This is the year we are finally going to go.” Sadly, she didn’t go with me, but I did go. It was amazing!! My jaw dropped to the floor as I walked by the booth of Alexander Henry. They had oversized black books (extra long) that showed off swatches of their fabrics, new and old, for order.

I saw Tula Pink and talked to her mom as I bought a unicorn patch. I met Annie from By Annie Pattern and she is so sweet. Chatted with the Tattooed Quilter as if we were old friends, someone that I had met at QuiltCon the year before. He really eased my nerves by talking to me about his new fabric lines and life in general. He is the best! I was so happy that I was able to thank the lady that passed my contact info onto the person that accepted me as part of the Riley Blake Designs’ blogging team. They really had a great set of booths that won an award. The reason for the trip to market was to meet with my new contact from Bluprint. The perfect reason for the trip, right?!  

As I was walking the aisles of Quilt Market, I saw so much eye candy that I really didn’t know where to look. One booth cut through the blissful madness. I suddenly stopped and was completely in awe. I had never seen a product like it before and I instantly loved it. As I took in the beautifully crafted quilts on the walls, they drew me in.

The quilts looked as if they were embossed. Since I was a graphic designer at an agency for many years and a freelancer for many years after that, I have created brochures with embossments that print houses made and I have even created a handmade embossments. I was insanely attracted to these quilts. The ladies in the booth were so nice!! They took the time to explain the product to me. I made a video of the quilts and shared it on Instagram. The product featured in all the quilts in the booth is something called Chenille-It®. It is a product that I think is absolutely brilliant!!

This quilt features a boat floating away on clouds. An incredible swirling texture is created with Chenille-It

(This is the quilt that left me awestruck.)

Dream pillow with Chenille-It

Months after Quilt Market, my mind was still on Chenille-It®. Then one day I found myself at Hobby Lobby and had one of those lightning moments were I thought of using Chenille-It® to make boho pillows, a trend that I have recently seen growing. I had an idea of how I could use Chenille-It®, so I reached out to the company because I wanted to learn more. Nannette Holmberg was kind enough to fill me in and share all about what it is and how she developed it.

I just made me a cup of coffee and I am ready for a chat. Let’s dive a little deeper into this amazing product. Everyone meet Nannette Holmberg. I am so happy to have you on my blog today. I plan on creating a few items with Chenille-It®, but first I would like to get a little history and insight into your product.

Are you a quilter? How long have you been quilting?

My background is actually in fashion design. I studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. I opened a shop In Salt Lake City and designed couture bridal and evening wear designing under the label of Nannette Of New York for many years. In the late 80s, I began designing wearable art, but more about that later! I made my first quilt for Omnigrid one year for Fall Quilt Market. I made quilts for their entire booth from floor quilts to wall quilts and wearables. Omnigrid was owned by the original owner Peggy Schaeffer and she won best booth in the show that year. I have been hooked on quilting ever since. Today I definitely call myself a quilter!

Oh wow Nannette that sounds amazing. That’s an incredible resume. I would love to learn more about your years as a fashion designer. Hopefully we will be able to talk some more. 

What is your favorite technique in quilting?

My very favorite is appliqué because the possibilities are literally endless, especially when I use Chenille-It® to do my appliqué work. For instance I can do hexies without doing any hexies or any handwork at all. Imagine that.

What is Chenille-It®?

Chenille-It® is a perfect bias strip that comes on a roll. It is available in two different widths: ⅜” wide on 25 yard rolls and ⅝” wide on 40 yard rolls. There are 23 colors to choose from.

What is the difference between Chenille-It® and bias tape?

Chenille-It® is made with a fabric that we have made that will “bloom” with one layer in one wash. Bias tape is made with a quilting quality fabric in most cases and will not “bloom” or create texture.

That makes sense. Chenille-It® is meant to fray almost like a flannel fabric and traditional bias tape should not fray. However you need about four layers of flannel to achieve what Chenille-It® does in one layer.

Butterfly and flower quilt

Where can you buy Chenille-It®?

Chenille-It® Blooming Bias® is available in many quilt shops. If they don’t carry it, ask them and they can order it for you. If they carry Moda fabrics, they can get it! More and more shops are carrying it every year. If you can’t find it locally, you can order it from our website

I love all the colors you offer!! There are 18 of them and each color is offered in two sizes. The palette includes soft pastels, bright colors, and earthy dark colors as well. Such a great variety. Here is a color chart. 

Rolls of different colors of Chenille-It

Can you wash Chenille-It® regularly?

Absolutely! I wash my quilts over and over for years and they just get better and better. It’s the same with the jackets and handbags that I put it on! My favorite jacket is off-white; I wear it to every show and every market and have done so for many years. It’s a classic style and the chenille is soft and full as ever and I still get compliments every time I wear it!

That sounds amazing!! 

What is your favorite way to use Chenille-It®?

Now I can tell you about how I do my appliqué work! I love, love doing appliqués with Chenille-It®. All of my appliqués are done with raw edge appliqué. What is the most difficult part of doing appliqués? It’s the finishing! How do you finish those raw edges? Now it is simple. I don’t generally use any fusible product on my appliqués. I just place them into position with a water soluble glue stick. When they are in place, I stitch close to the raw edge, about 1/8 inch or less to secure it on the quilt. Then I cover that raw edge with 3/8 inch wide Chenille-It®, stitching down the center of the tape. Just one layer. When I come to a corner, there is not a right or wrong side so I can just flip the tape and keep on going.

Hexie Flower Quilt

The product is very forgiving, too. If you find after you wash your quilt that you can see a little of your raw edge, push it to the side and lay down another small section to cover your edge. Brush it a little, wet it, dry again and poof! You can’t even see what you did!

That is why I can do hexies without doing any hexies. I can do a grandmother’s garden quilt with a shape that is just the outside shape of the grandmother’s garden and do it as a raw edge appliqué. All the raw edges and the lines for the hexies are just Chenille-It® with one raw edge hexie in the center. All finished with the raw edge technique. But the finished quilt looks like you did all the hard work! No one can tell what you did! That pattern is called “Hexie Gone”!

That is my favorite use of the 3/8 inch width. The 5/8 inch width is a different story! My favorite use of that is finishing the edges instead of binding or instead of doing a rag quilt. Why would you want to do a rag quilt with four or five layers of fabric and all that snipping and snipping and all the mess when it’s washed and it’s still messy. With the 5/8 inch width, I can just sew my blocks together like a traditional quilt.

I don’t have to be fussy about seams meeting because I’m going to cover them up with a layer of 5/8 inch tape and I’m done without all that work. Layer with the batting and backing and you can even just stitch over the same line of stitching to quilt it! Then instead of binding the edge, just trim your edge, serge, or zig zag it to hold the layers together and sew the Chenille-It® to the wrong side and then the right side of the quilt. So simple, so fast. You can finish the edges of pillows the same way. You don’t have to turn your pillow, corners are always perfectI! I have a great baby quilt on Youtube that shows this finish for the edge, and the baby quilt is fun, too. Just go to the Chenille-It® channel on Youtube and look for the strip pieced baby quilt.

Can you see what I mean about the “possibilities are endless”? That’s why I say “If you can dream it, you can Chenille-It®!”

Yes. That is so true. I already have trouble with my hands, but I love rag quilts. Your product is perfect to give you that feel without cutting through all those layers of heavy fabric. This is truly amazing!!

How did you get the idea for the product?

That goes back a few years. I wrote two books on the stitch and slash technique of creating chenille. Faux Chenille® was my first trademarked name for the technique that everyone calls chenille now. I first did it for my wearable art with layers of rayons for jackets and vests. I designed these jackets and vests for McCall’s Pattern Company and taught all over the country. Later, starting my own pattern line and began going to sewing shows like Quilt Festival and other sewing and quilting shows all over the country.

As I taught in areas like Florida and California, the five and six layer jackets were loved but weren’t practical for warmer climates. I began playing with fewer and fewer layers until I was down to just one cut layer! What I discovered was it wasn’t the multiple layers that were creating the texture, it was the fabric. So if I had the right fabric, I only needed one layer! Wow! Imagine what I could do if I had it on a roll!! Chenille-It® was born. Pfaff and Viking sewing machines were the first to come on board and even made a Chenille Foot for their machines; they were so excited about it! Now we sell it worldwide.

Oh my goodness. What a path. I am sure there are many people out there that would love to create their own product and don’t know where to start. It sounds like for you this has been a long road with lots of testing and great product evolution. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful information with us!! 

Flower outlined with Chenille-It

What were the steps you took to bring this product to market.

I spent a lot of time researching and finding a company to make my fabric first because that was the key to the product. Then there is more research finding all the steps of the manufacturing and packaging side of the product.

For others that have an idea but are not sure what to do with it, do you have any advice?

One idea always leads to another. Just follow your dreams. If something seems silly or simple, you’re probably on the right track. Test, test, test everything. Be willing to go for it. Show your ideas to others. I showed my first roll of Chenille-It® to my friend Sue Hausman from Pfaff and Viking Sewing machines and with her encouragement I went for it. I’m so glad I did. Go for it! That’s my best advice. I let myself leave my comfort zone of couture fashion!

You can, too!

Wow!! This is so impressive. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. It was lovely meeting you. Your product and story inspires me so much! I am very happy to be able to work with your product. I can’t wait to see how Chenille-It® works. Over the next few months I will be sharing products where I use Chenille-It®. I will be sharing the first pillow I made with Chenille-It® next week. It is a simple pillow but I wanted to really get a feel of the product before I started using it in more items. EEEEKK!! I am sew excited.

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