Kath's Faux Chenille Coat

Make a Slashed Chenille Coat/Jacket

By: Kathy Somers


*Here is how I made my super-soft Slashed Chenille coat that I have been crowing about in #QuiltChat:

*For 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 peacock feather.

*I 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 detailing).

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.).
  3. 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).  NOTE:
    bulletYou 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).
    bulletMake 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.
    bulletDo 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.
  4. 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.).


  1. Make a quilt sandwich large enough for all your pattern pieces by layering cotton batting between your base and lining fabrics.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.).
  4. Roughly cut out your pattern pieces, leaving an extra inch or more around all sides of each piece for safety.
  5. 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.)
  6. 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.
  7. 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.).
  8. 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.).
  9. Construct the shell of the garment according to the pattern directions. If using the pattern for Jazz Jacket #2, like I did:
    1. Ignore the directions for fusing interfacing to the cuffs, collar and front edges - you won't need it with all these layers.
    2. 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.).
    3. Pin, baste and sew the shoulder seams, easing in the back shoulder slightly.
    4. 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 pockets.).
    5. Sew the underarm/sleeve seams, matching edges and armhole seams.
    6. 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).
  10. 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.).
  11. 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:
    1. Cut 4" wide bias strips and sew them together on the diagonal to make a strip of sufficient length (or make continuous bias).
    2. Trim points and press seams to one side.
    3. Fold in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press along the entire length.
    4. 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).
    5. 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.)
    6. Roll the binding toward the back (inside) of the coat.
    7. 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 stitching).
  12. 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.).
  13. 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.

Optional Directions

Lined Collar:

 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:

  1. Cut out one "undercollar" from leftover lining fabric and one from fusible interfacing, using the collar pattern piece.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Trim (grade) the seam allowances, turn the collar right side out (poking out the collar points if necessary) and press.
  6. Pin and machine stitch the right side of the collar to the wrong side of the garment.
  7. Hand stitch the undercollar to the right side of the garment to cover the collar seam.

Inseam Pockets:

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:

  1. * Pause in the directions above, before sewing the underarm seams. Loosely baste or pin these seams so you can try on the coat, however.
  2. 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:
    1. By tracing a large slanted mitten shape (without the thumbs) around your spread hand and adding a healthy 1/2" seam allowance
    2. By using a pocket pattern piece from another coat pattern that has inseam pockets
    3. By tracing a pocket from an existing garment and adding a 1/2" seam allowance
  3. 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.
  4. 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..
  5. 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 the pockets.
  6. Mark "pivot points" on the underarm seamline, as shown, 1/2" away from the pocket edge at both top and bottom of each pocket.

  7. Pin 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.
  8. Clip the seam allowances to the stitching at the pivot points.
  9. If your coat will not be lined, serge the pocket edges to finish, if desired.
  10. Turn the pockets to the inside and press toward the front.
  11. Tack the pocket to the front coat lining in the desired position.
  12. After attaching the collar, resume the above directions at step #10.

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