I have a stash of old fabrics and thrift store textiles I've collected over the years, not sure what they would be used for but knowing they would get used up one day. I'm pleased to say I've now discovered the purpose for all these gems: a technique known as "faux chenille", also called "fabric slashing". 

I first tried this technique about two months ago and made 6 cushion covers (see photo below) (the first 2 were test pieces) with a 7th that I framed instead. And I'm now working on 3 different pictures using this same technique. 

Faux chenille includes several layers of fabrics stitched together, then cut between the stitched lines with sharp scissors. But it's the friction of machine washing and drying the sewn & cut fabrics that creates the frayed fabric edges, giving it a chenille-type look. The first time I washed the bundles was a bit nerve racking, but I was thrilled with the result. And it's a great way to recycle fabric scraps and old clothing and textiles. 

I'm learning the different looks that can be achieved based on the various fabric types, and the importance of colour choices - high contrast is most effective for this technique. I thought the spotted fabric shown at right would be great as a top layer, complemented by layers of pink, green and blue, however these latter colours overshadowed the spotted fabric, dulling what had been a fun piece of fabric. But this was part of the learning process, and a reminder to keep colour theory top of mind.

The orange piece below turned out spectacular, with some red, black and blue layers peeking through. As the top layer was from an old orange blouse with delicate embroidery and sequins, which did survive the washing process, I decided it would look best framed and for long-term protection.

Sewing line after line spaced about 1/2" apart and without a guide is great practice for one's spatial vision, and one's machine sewing skills too. Of course the distances don't have to be exact, and some variation adds interest to the overall piece. 

After completing all these cushion covers, I had decided to try making some pictures using this technique.

I chose this photo of a hosta leaf from my garden. After studying the colours in the picture, I selected several fabrics in shades of greens, blue-green and some fushia and purple to add to the edges, then carefully planned out the layers. The stitching and cutting were the easy part, following the veins of the leaf. 

Next came the washing and drying, again a bit nerve racking but also with great anticipation. I could not have been more pleased with the result.

I embellished some of the edges with pink tulle, couched on yarn for vein lines, and handstitched some beads and sequins to represent water drops. 

I'm so inspired by what I've learned so far and with the potential for this technique. It lends itself very well to nature images, and I now have a list of pictures I want to create. I'm part way through one of a Japanese zen garden and another of moss. And perhaps there will be more lichens in my future too.

If you're interested in learning this technique, there are lots of great tutorials online. Just google "slashing fabric technique" or "faux chenille".


"Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try...