Last Updated on February 21, 2024 by Shariful Alam

Today, the Muslin Dhaka team is unveiling true facts and stories of cotton chenille fabric. We used a few chenille fabrics for different purposes. Then noted down all the pros and cons of this type of fabric. 

We have also pointed out the key difference between chenille and other similar materials. You will understand the characteristics of chenille cotton fabric and use them properly after reading this blog till the end. 

Let’s start. 

What is Chenille Fabric?

Chenille fabric is made using chenille yarn. It is a durable fabric we often see in bedding and upholstery items. Another famous use of this fabric is in winter clothing. 

Chenille is a soft yet durable fabric. It can contain 100% cotton, blended with silk, polyester, or rayon. Some cotton chenille fabric gets a small amount of nylon infused to increase durability. 

However, you can find chenille upholstery fabric in different colors and prints. 

Industrial NameChenille fabric
OriginFrance
Other NamesCotton chenille, Tufted cotton chenille, etc.
ConstructionOrganic cotton fibers (piles) are wrapped under other core fibers (cotton mainly) to make the yarn. Then woven properly to make the fabric. (Can have nylon infused for durability)
Weight150-500 GSM or more
ColorCan come with various prints or dyes
AirflowVery low
Moisture Absorbance2X slower than average cotton absorbance
WeavingLeno (traditional), twill, cross, plain, etc.
StretchTends to zero
Heat InsulationHigh
Shrinkage RatioAround 5%
UsageUpholstery, clothing, quilting, bedding, interior decoration, etc. 

 

A Brief History of Chenille Fabric

The history takes us back to the early 18th century. At that time, chenille yarn was invented in France. According to textile historians, people used the “Leno” method to create chenille. It is made by covering the small piles with two main yarns to make durable threads. Then, stacking them together to make a large sheet of soft and fuzzy cotton fabric. It was the original technique. 

The word Chenille means caterpillar in French because the texture of this fabric is the same as the fuzzy skin of a caterpillar. 

However, the popularity of this fabric grew rapidly when Alexander Buchanan introduced the chenille shawls and scarfs in Scotland. The time was around 1830. Soon after that, The founder of James Templeton Carpet Manufacturer Co., James Templeton modified the production process. He used the exact fabric for making carpets and hand-tufted bedspreads. By this, he created a successful carpet company. 

History of chenille fabric

Finally, a century later, the United States also got involved. The country brought a revolution in making tufted fabrics. Catherine Evans Whitener innovated the chenille fabric in a new way. All thanks to her modification of the traditional handcrafted technique. From then on, chenille and other tufted fabrics became widely popular in the US. 

But it took some time to make chenille a profitable production. Manufacturers started mass-producing chenille in the late 20th century after the invention of the latest technologies. People were no longer dependent on handcraft techniques only. 

How are Chenille Fabrics Made?

The production process of chenille upholstery fabric was last modified in the United States almost a century ago. 

Factories first collect chenille yarns to make chenille fabric. The process of making chenille fabric is almost like putting patties between buns. Machines place the small “pile” yarns between two core yarns. Then, twist the piles and cores to create thick chenille threads. 

Those yarns don’t come pre-heated. Instead, they go under heating treatment after the twisting step. 

How is Chenille made?

Sometimes, you can find a small amount of nylon infusion inside the chenille yarn so the twisted threads don’t come loose. 

The chenille yarns are woven in different ways. You can find “leno” weaving in traditional chenille clothes. But some fabrics have plain, cross, twill, and other weave types. 

After weaving, the yarns still remain fuzzy intentionally. Factories don’t perform any special finishing to this condition. That’s why the fabric feels plushy and soft. 

Organic Chenille Cotton Fabric & sustainability

Chenille fabric can be made from pure cotton, silk, rayon, blends, nylon, etc. But organic chenille cotton fabric is the best choice among them. 

Loose fibers of the cotton piles and cores create a safe fluff. These fibers don’t give you an allergy. Also, organic cotton fiber attracts fewer allergens. 

Organic chenille fabric regulates heat properly. It seems like cotton chenille is very hot. But actually, it is warm rather than hot

Making chenille from organic cotton yarns might take some time and manual labor. But it is safe for the environment because it doesn’t use harmful chemicals or bleach. 

Most importantly, organic chenille cotton fabric won’t get stiffer after aging. But nylon or polyester chenille might. So, Organic cotton chenille fabric is a good option for safe and sustainable use. You will see a lot of GOTs certified organic chenille these days.

Types of Chenille Fabric

Cotton chenille fabric has two major categories: Short pile and Long pile. 

Short Pile Chenille Fabric

Short pile chenille fabric uses small cotton piles to decrease the weight and thickness. This type of chenille has less fluff and softness. 

But due to lightweight construction, this option is good for clothing and baby items. You can easily use this fabric to make clothes and other essentials. Unlike heavy-weight fabrics, they are easy.

Long Pile Chenille Fabric

Long pile chenille fabric has longer cotton piles that increase the weight and thickness of the fabric construction. These are the heavy upholstery fabrics for premium home decor.

This type of chenille is used to make bedding and upholstery items. Chenille bedspreads insulate heat very well. Also, the loose fibers of long pile chenille fabric give added plush to the item. 

Washing long piles of cotton chenille is a bit tricky. They won’t get dry easily. Also, you need to take special care. Otherwise, the yarns will come loose or wear off soon. 

Recently, there’s another type called medium pile chenille fabric. It is mostly used in quilts, shams, and throws. It is a lightweight and smaller version of a long pile chenille for making small items. 

Based on fiber, Chenile fabric could be 100 percent cotton, Cotton blend, silk, wool, polyester & others.

chenille production

Cotton Chenille Fabric Characteristics

While physically testing different chenille upholstery fabrics, we found these common facts. 

Texture

We see that chenille fabrics are very smooth. The surface of the fabric is plain. Just fuzzy fibers are over the yarns to make a unique outlook and feel. Some call it applique surface design due to the additional layer of fuzz.

Many might confuse chenille with velvet. Some chenille textures resemble velvet despite having 100% cotton construction. Textile industries use various weaving methods to create chenille fabric. But the weaving patterns aren’t visible clearly from a distance. 

Outlook

The fuzziness of the yarn creates an uneven feel. But as we said earlier, the main surface is plain and tightly woven. Sometimes, the fuzzy fibers also shine or glace in front of the light. 

Softness

Obviously, chenille is a soft fabric. The texture offers a plushy feel, just like a down comforter. When you press the fabric, the thickness shrinks a bit and adjusts with your posture. 

Heat Regulation

We can understand that this fabric tends to insulate heat more than thin cotton sheets. The fuzz traps heat and gradually increases the temperature. 

You can also feel it sitting on a chair with a chenille cover. It can get hot when you are sitting on it for several hours. 

Breathability

Among so many tufted fabrics, chenille is a breathable option. It is because of the cotton construction. But you can’t expect chenille items to be as breathable as cotton muslin or calico. It is because of the density and weight. 

Moisture Absorbance

We told you that chenille yarns get properly heated before weaving. It makes them tight and resistant. It takes 2X time for chenille than normal cotton clothing to get completely soaked in water. 

If you mistakenly spill some drops of water, the water drops remain visible like crystals for a few seconds. 

Durability

As multiple thin yarns are spun together to make a single chenille yarn, it is 3 to 4 times more durable than muslin cotton fabric. A soft scratch or bite from your pet dog won’t harm the chenille upholstery. 

Stretch

The amount of stretch Chenille offers is as well as none. Even if the cores or piles are pure cotton. 

Weight

A tightly woven chenille fabric is 1.2-2.5 times heavier than a regular muslin or hemp cotton fabric. Apart from the fuzz, you can feel the main surface thicker than several cotton textiles. 

Shrinkage

The amount of shrinkage depends on which type of chenille cotton you bought. We used a long pile of chenille that wasn’t prewashed. In hot water, it shrunk a bit. But we made the fabric like before by gently ironing it. 

We assume that short pile chenille can shrink around 1-3% depending on the washing method. But long pile chenille can shrink around 5%. So, you should try to purchase a pre-washed chenille that doesn’t shrink a lot. 

Light and Heat Resistance

Items made of chenille are less resistant to heat. The fibers break when you put them in immense heat. And the fabric loses its softness, durability, and shape. 

Some thick and long pile chenille fabrics are also sensitive to sunlight and UV. Dyes on the chenille beddings can fade away under direct contact with the sunlight for a long time. 

Maintenance

Maintenance of chenille textiles is pretty costly. You need to spend some bucks buying the safest detergents from the market. 

Also, you have to be patient while washing chenille fabric as it absorbs water slowly. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Chenille Fabric

It’s time to specify the good and bad of cotton chenille fabric. 

Advantages:

  • Strong and durable
  • Resists stain well
  • Heat insulative
  • Soft enough even for a baby
  • Safe fibers
  • Versatile use
  • Suits every interior
  • Resists attracting too many allergens

Disadvantages:

  • Hard to clean
  • Doesn’t dry up soon
  • Unable to hold the color for a long time
  • Heavy textile (but not bad for draping)

Uses of Chenille Fabric

Here are some of the most common uses of chenille fabric. 

  • Winter or spring outfits
  • Bedding
  • Quilting
  • Famous for Upholstery 
  • Bags and accessories
  • Stuffed toys
  • Baby items

Chenille Fabric by Yard

Buying fabrics from trustworthy sellers is safe. Instead of ordering ready-made chenille items, you can buy chenille fabric by yard to make your own customized bedding or dress. 

There are a few reknown brand selling chenille. The top chenlle fabric brands are Fields fabric, Richlin, Eddebags, furnishing fabrics, etc.

Though chenille fabric by the yard is pricey, Keep an eye on the popular sellers from Amazon and Etsy . You will get a great deal on buying desired fabrics. 

Chenille VS Velvet

Both chenille and velvet are premium types of fabric to enhance your home decor. They have several similarities. But let’s discuss some key differences between them so that you can identify the right fabric easily. 

Construction

Chenille fabric can contain various yarns like cotton, polyester, silk, etc. But velvet fabrics usually have synthetic fibers. 

Softness

Velvet is softer than chenille. Because of its smoothness, velvet feels like a rich item. 

Texture

The construction of chenille fabric feels more textured than smoothened. For smoothness, velveteen is good. 

Durability

Chenille is more durable than velvet. Although both fabrics can last for years, chenille withstands rough conditions better than velvet. 

So, what’s the right fabric? It depends on your demand. If you want something sustainable, go for chenille. But velvet is the fabric you need for utmost comfort and home decor. 

Chenille VS Polyester

People always get confused about whether they should use polyester or chenille for upholstery and bedding. So, let’s break down the differences between those fabrics. 

  • Chenille looks better than polyester on any item. Polyester can be budget-friendly but not as elegant as chenille.
  • However, polyester is more durable than chenille. This fabric can resist wear and tear better than chenille. The maintenance of chenille is a bit complex. 
  • Cotton chenille contains natural fiber. Whereas polyester has synthetic fibers that can be bad for sensitive skin. 

How to Take Care of Chenille Fabric?

We’ve already said a few times that chenille fabric is hard to care for. So, describing the right way to maintain a chenille fabric should complete our discussion today. 

The rule of thumb is to dry clean your chenille upholstery frequently. If possible, once every week. Otherwise, the additional surface design aka fuzz, will wear out.

As the fabric tends to get stiff and faded, mild detergent formula and cold water are the only things you can apply to wash chenille bedding. 

After washing, you can use a big soft-fiber brush to rub and remove water from the chenille fabric. 

And remember, don’t leave the fabric hanging under sunlight for too long. If you want to iron your chenille fabric, do it gently once every month. 

FAQ

What is jacquard chenille fabric?

Chenille Jacquard fabric contains synthetic threads as the core. It increases the durability and performance of the fabric. 

How durable is chenille fabric on sofa?

Chenille fabric’s primary use is to make upholstery items these days. Chenille will work well as your favorite chair or sofa cover because of its thickness and plush feel.

Is chenille fabric good for cats?

Chenille is not harmful to cats. But cats can harm chenille fabric by scratching the fabric deeply using claws. 

Sum Up: Chenille Fabric

Long story short, chenille is a tufted cotton fabric. It is the most trending material for making upholstery and draping stuff. The price is also less in comparison to other luxurious textiles like velvet or silk. 

So, don’t hesitate to buy chenille fabric if you need to redecorate your bedroom or living room. We promise the hard earned money won’t go in vain. 

Read our article on cotton velour fabric if you’re also looking for a velvet type amazing fabric.

Shariful Alam

Shariful Alam

Shariful Alam Pavel, A fashion lover, passionate marketer. Love to share wisdom based on real life experience to enrich knowledge.
Founder of Muslin Dhaka, a brand, speaks the truth about royal muslin and fashion. Explore the digital fashion universe with organic cotton muslin and much more!