Chenille is a form of weaving that result in one of the softest textures of all. Tapestries made from chenille require delicate handling, but are tactilely interesting and more touchable than any other type of tapestry. Chenille is actually the French word for caterpillar. The word in common parlance is used now to describe the type of fabric; in this case, for the procedure by which it is made.

Chenille is manufactured by wrapping short lengths of fabric, called piles, around a tightly wound core of yarn. When the edges of these piles stand at right angles from the yarn's core, the chenille gains its soft, characteristic texture and appearance. Chenille can even look iridescent at times. It commonly is manufactured from cotton, but versions using acrylic, rayon and olefin exist and are not quite as easily damaged.

The process for making chenille is complex and must be done expertly for a strong thread that gives the appearance of being made from fine filaments. Good chenille thread can be used as needed for different applications woven into fabric by whatever means necessary to produce throws, upholstery, carpets, rugs and wall hangings.

The History of Chenille

As well as textile historians can determine, chenille type yarn first appeared on the scene sometime during the eighteenth century. Hand woven tapestries and throws of chenille quickly became popular due to the silky soft texture and near iridescence of the material. By the nineteenth century, the Jacquard loom had revolutionized the tapestry weaving industry, and Jacquard woven chenille wall hangings began to gain popularity.

The Art Nouveau movement gave a new look to the world of tapestry art. Reproductions of paintings in the stylistic form were easily translated to the loom, and many people opted for the warmer look of fabric wall hangings over the sterility of framed prints. Mass production on mechanized looms has made these works of art readily available.

The idealized figures, detailed backgrounds and decorative borders of Art Nouveau done in soft chenille thread makes these tapestries a perfect addition to almost any home. The dcor can be as lush or as modernistic as desired tapestries are the perfect fit for every type of interior layout. For those who prefer a more Renaissance style feel, castles and coats of arms lend a medieval flavor to a room.

Soft or Bold Chenille Tapestries Cover all Styles

Francois Boucher was a noted French painter who specialized in religious and pastorally themed art; his works translate smoothly to the woven medium and are often reproduced in chenille. His rococo paintings featuring idyllic landscapes and romantic scenes are the favorite of many designers looking for a Louis XV influence. One or more of these tapestries can easily be used as the inspiration behind study, library or parlor. You can carry out the French theme with fine reproductions of the furniture dated from the same era.

For those who prefer a more focused attraction, a tapestry illustrated with a bird, butterfly or even a piece of fruit can provide contrast to minimalist furniture and neutral colors. These subjects provide a splash of color that draws the eye and brings a sense of the outside world into an austere room. The use of chenille to soften sharp edges in otherwise stark surroundings can completely alter the mood of the space! It suddenly makes the room touchable and friendly, even if your choice of furnishings and colors are somewhat cool.

Simpler patterns come across nicely in chenille as well. Celtic designs are favorites of many interior decorators, providing a vast array of motifs and colors to choose from. These tapestries will work well in almost any setting, and provide a nice backdrop to a busy room. French designs have a more floral appearance, with stylized images on a contrasting background. Native American motifs are becoming more popular as well, with bold colors and geometric designs.


Hanging Chenille Tapestries

Hanging properly is very important with chenille tapestries a solid pocket sewn across the back and reinforced with sturdy fabric is best, as chenille can stretch and hang awkwardly if individual hanging loops are used. An ornate rod may be desired to complement the natural beauty of these tapestries, and can be hung on brackets. Choose a style that will complement the tapestry itself a heavy rod for bold graphics or a more delicate one for softer designs.

Chenille is the perfect medium for tapestries; this textile makes your wall hangings even more unique and you are sure to receive plenty of compliments. Consider exploring the soft and silky side of wall art the next time you are inspired to do a room makeover!

About the Author

Angela Dawson-Field divides her time between writing and the &sec=article&uinfo=<%=server.URLEncode(1911)%>" target="_blank"> Tapestry House. She writes extensively on &sec=article&uinfo=<%=server.URLEncode(1911)%>" target="_blank"> tapestries & wall hangings.

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