Make a Slashed Chenille Coat/Jacket
is how I made my super-soft Slashed Chenille coat that I have been crowing about
the chenille, I used five layers of multicolored, tie-dyed rayon batiks that I
got on one of my cruises to the Caribbean. I quilted the layers, on the true
bias, to a quilt sandwich at 1/2" intervals and then slashed the top five layers
between the stitching. When they frayed up in the wash, the multicolored batiks
produced a soft, multicolored, iridescent "fake fur" that reminds me of a
used the pattern for Jazz Jacket #2 from the original Jacket Jazz book and
lengthened it by adding 8" to the bottom of the back and front pieces for a 3/4
length coat (NOTE: Add 10" if you are taller.). However, you can actually
use any simple coat, jacket or vest pattern (no darts, no fussy
When figuring the amount of fabric you will need:
If using a pattern from the Jacket Jazz books: for each
layer, including the lining and base layers, purchase the same amount of fabric
that the book recommends for the flannel layer. These patterns normally contain
sufficient ease for a comfortable fit. However, due to the thickness of the
layers and some shrinkage, if you want your coat to be loose and comfortable,
consider using the next larger size.
If using a store-bought coat, jacket or vest pattern: for
each layer, including the lining and base layers, purchase the amount
of yardage that the pattern recommends for the shell. For a comfortable fit,
figure on making the coat at least one size larger (if not 2) than
you're used to, depending on the pattern, to allow for shrinkage..
You will need:
- Two layers of any 45" wide cotton fabric to serve as lining
and base layers - quilting fabric will work fine here. (NOTE: the base
layer will peek out from between the strips of chenille on the outside -- the
lining will show on the inside of the garment and, possibly, under the collar,
depending on the pattern). Buy enough lining fabric for a third layer only
if you decide to line the entire coat.
- One queen-size lightweight cotton batting (I used Fairfield
Soft Touch). Cut it in half lengthwise into two 45" x 108" long strips, which
is probably enough for two coats or jackets. (NOTE: You could use cotton
flannel for this layer but, although heavy and warm, it won't be quite as soft
or fluffy as mine.).
- Five-six layers of 45" wide fabrics in whatever colors and prints that you
feel will fray, blend and make a nice, soft chenille (I used five layers of
tie-dyed rayon batiks with as many colors in them as I could find).
An extra yard of cotton fabric for binding if not lining
your coat. It can match or coordinate with the base fabric, lining and/or the
chenille - your choice. (NOTE: Use the test swatches made above to assist
in your selection.).
|You can use up to eight layers if you want a really fluffy, heavy coat
or if the fabrics are very lightweight (beware - many lightweight fabrics
wont fray easily).|
|Make test swatches to test different combinations of fabrics, colors,
# of layers, etc. and to assist in choosing the base, lining and binding
fabrics. Layer, stitch, slash, wash and dry the swatch, just as you will
your coat, to see the effect.|
|Do NOT use cotton (unless it's a flannel or homespun that frays easily),
any tightly woven fabric (including rayon), "microfiber", or any other type
of fabric that won't fray easily.|
- Make a quilt sandwich large enough for all your pattern pieces by layering
cotton batting between your base and lining fabrics.
- On top of the base layer, stack the five (to eight) layers of your
"chenille" fabrics. Press each layer with a warm (not hot) iron
w/ light steam or smooth carefully with your hands as you go.
- This step is very important! Hand baste the entire sandwich securely.
(NOTE: I used safety pins but I suggest basting with wash-away thread. If not
using wash-away basting thread, remove all basting and/or pins before washing
the finished coat.).
- Roughly cut out your pattern pieces, leaving an extra inch or more around
all sides of each piece for safety.
- Mark quilting lines every 1/2" on the diagonal (the closer you are to the
true bias, exactly 45° off-grain, the better). You
can mark straight furrows, zigzags, chevrons or a V design in any combination,
as long as all your quilting will be on the bias. (NOTE: I used a downward
V on the back, sleeves and collar and straight furrows, slanting down towards
the center, on both fronts. I also marked my quilting lines with a rotary
cutting ruler and a fine, disappearing marker.)
- Channel quilt (with a walking foot) on the marked lines, using 15-20
stitches per inch and a strong quilting thread. Be very careful not to pucker
or shift the layers. If necessary, remove pins as you quilt.
- Cut only the top five layers down the center of each
channel, between the line of quilting (your scissors will follow the
channels). Be really careful not to cut into the base fabric (the top layer of
the quilt sandwich) or the stitching. (NOTE: This step is easiest if you
use good scissors that are very sharp.).
- Trim your pieces to exact size and shape, using the pattern pieces, and
baste around the edge of each piece a little less than 1/2" away from the
edge. (NOTE: Use wash-away basting thread or remove the basting after
construction, before washing the finished coat.).
- Construct the shell of the garment according to the pattern directions. If
using the pattern for Jazz Jacket #2, like I did:
- Ignore the directions for fusing interfacing to the cuffs, collar and
front edges - you won't need it with all these layers.
- Pin, baste and sew all seams using a 1/2" seam allowance and trim all
seams to a healthy 1/4" as you go. Steam seams open and press them as flat
as possible (really mash them down) before sewing the next seam. (NOTE: I
recommend hand basting all seams before sewing, due to the many layers
involved. Remove basting before washing.).
- Pin, baste and sew the shoulder seams, easing in the back shoulder
- Add the sleeves, matching the center of the sleeve caps (the dots) to
the shoulder seams. (*NOTE: Pause here and see directions below if adding
- Sew the underarm/sleeve seams, matching edges and armhole seams.
- Add the collar, matching centers and/or dots according to the pattern,
but be sure to sew it on "backwards" so the right side is exposed when it
rolls (follow the collar directions below to line the collar, if desired
- unless you're going to line the entire coat in the next step).
- I don't recommend it, but you can line the coat at this point, if desired,
by making an identical shell (collar and all) from lining fabric (see
Jacket Jazz). Sew the lining to the coat at the outer edges, right sides
together, leaving the cuffs free and leaving a small opening at the bottom
back center for turning. Trim (grade) the seams and turn right side out,
poking out points at the bottom front edges. Match and tack, if desired, the
armhole seams of the lining to the armhole seams of the coat. Fold in the seam
allowances and slipstitch closed at bottom back through all layers (not fun).
You can either bind or slipstitch the cuffs to finish. (NOTE: I chose not
to line the coat and allowed the inside seams to fuzz up just like the
chenille - this is lots easier and works very well, looks finished and makes
an interesting effect.).
- If not lined, bind the coat, exactly like you would a quilt, with a 5/8"
wide double-fold bias binding (NOTE: Bind the cuff of each sleeve with a
short (18" or so) strip. The rest of the coat can be bound with one long strip
joined on the diagonal at the back of the collar.): To do this:
- Cut 4" wide bias strips and sew them together on the diagonal to make a
strip of sufficient length (or make continuous bias).
- Trim points and press seams to one side.
- Fold in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press along the
- Leave a generous tail for joining later and, starting at the back of the
collar, stitch the folded binding to the right side of the coat with a 5/8"
seam, matching the raw edges. Miter the corners at the bottom front edges
(click HERE for a diagram).
- Stop several inches short of where you started. Lap the binding and mark
where they should join. Open out the binding and stitch the ends together,
at the mark, with a diagonal seam. Repress the seam in half and finish
sewing the binding to the collar (click
HERE for a diagram.)
- Roll the binding toward the back (inside) of the coat.
- Hand appliqué (slipstitch) the folded edge of the binding to the inside
of the coat at the stitching line (to just barely cover the machine
- To fasten the coat closed, you can enclose bias tube loops in the binding
above or, before the coat is washed, place 3-5 evenly spaced diagonal
buttonholes between the rows of chenille on the left front edge, if desired.
Make matching marks on the right front edge and place buttons, frogs or
hooks.. (NOTE: Make buttonholes a tiny bit smaller than you would normally,
as they will be on the bias and will stretch a bit.).
- For a fabulous finish, wash the coat and toss it in the dryer (for several
cycles, if necessary) with some old towels and a dryer sheet. Let it dry
thoroughly to fluff it out. (NOTE: you will get a LOT of lint, so wash and
dry separately and clean out your lint filters frequently). It may take
several washings and dryings to fluff your chenille out fully.
I did not line my coat or collar (other than the lining layer of the
sandwich), but if I had it to do over again, I would consider lining the collar
and would not have the seam showing under the collar. If you want to do this:
- Cut out one "undercollar" from leftover lining fabric and one from fusible
interfacing, using the collar pattern piece.
- Trim all seam allowances from the interfacing and center it carefully,
wrong sides together, on the wrong side of the undercollar. Fuse, following
the manufacturer's directions.
- Stay-stitch the bottom edge of the undercollar just inside the seamline.
Fold the seam allowance to the wrong side at the staystitching and press.
- Pin and sew the undercollar to the collar with right sides together,
leaving the bottom seam (the seam that gets stitched to the coat) open. Pivot
at and reinforce the collar points, if necessary.
- Trim (grade) the seam allowances, turn the collar right side out (poking
out the collar points if necessary) and press.
- Pin and machine stitch the right side of the collar to the wrong side of
- Hand stitch the undercollar to the right side of the garment to cover the
I also did not put pockets into my coat but, if I had it to do over again I
would have included inseam pockets. If your pattern does not include these and
you want to have them:
- * Pause in the directions above, before sewing the underarm seams. Loosely
baste or pin these seams so you can try on the coat, however.
- Fold two layers of leftover lining fabric in half, right sides together,
and cut out four identical pocket pieces - two right and two left. You can
make the pocket pattern in one of three ways:
- By tracing a large slanted mitten shape (without the thumbs) around your
spread hand and adding a healthy 1/2" seam allowance
- By using a pocket pattern piece from another coat pattern that has
- By tracing a pocket from an existing garment and adding a 1/2" seam
- Try on the coat to determine the best location for your pockets and mark
the top of the pocket on one side seam. Measure the distance of this mark from
the bottom edge of the coat. Mark the same location on each underarm seam at
the same exact distance from the bottom edge of the coat.
- Open up the basted side seams and, with right sides together, pin the
straight edge of the four pocket pieces at the marked location on each
underarm seam, with raw edges matching..
- Baste and stitch the pockets to the underarm seams with a 1/2" seam. Serge
or "stay" the seam with twill tape as shown, if desired and if the coat is not
to be lined. Open the pockets out flat and press the seam allowances toward
Mark "pivot points" on the underarm seamline, as shown, 1/2"
away from the pocket edge at both top and bottom of each pocket.
and baste the underarm seams, right sides together, matching the bottom and
sleeve edges, armhole seams and pockets. Stitch the side seams from the lower
edge to the pivot point and pivot as shown, reinforcing the seam for 1/2 to 1"
up to and beyond the pivot point. Stitch around the pocket to the next pivot
point and pivot again, reinforcing the seam for 1/2 to 1" up to and
beyond the pivot point. Stitch the rest of the seam from the pivot point to
the cuff edge of the sleeve.
- Clip the seam allowances to the stitching at the pivot points.
- If your coat will not be lined, serge the pocket edges to finish, if
- Turn the pockets to the inside and press toward the front.
- Tack the pocket to the front coat lining in the desired position.
After attaching the collar, resume the above directions at
For further information, contact:
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