The Unique Look of Chenille Fabric
Chenille fabric derives its name from the French word for the caterpillar. A caterpillar in French is called ‘chenillle’. The fabric gets its name due to the fact that the caterpillar is usually covered in short, furry hairs, and this is what chenille fabric looks like.
In the beginning, chenille fabric was used in making bedspreads, mats, carpets, upholstery and throws. It was not used to make clothing until the 1970s when commercial production of the fabric begun. It is said that this type of fabric has been in existence since the 18th Century. Today, chenille is used to make sweaters and some other items of clothing.
The characteristic look of chenille fabric (the furry look) is achieved by how it is woven. During the weaving process, short lengths of filament or spun yarn which are referred to as pile are placed and held together by two ends of already twisted yarn which are referred to as the core. At the end of it all, the pile stands at right angles from the core. This is what causes the furry look. This method of weaving is what also gives chenille fabric its softness.
The manufacturing process of chenille yarn is carried out in such a way as to ensure that the pile, or the short lengths of yarn, lie in one direction. This results in what is referred to as the reflection effect. The reflection effect is simply the ability of the chenille fabric to reflect light differently when looked at from different angles. The reflection effect causes the fabric to look iridescent even though iridescent fibers have not been used in making the fabric. This is one of the reasons this chenille is well loved and very popular. The manufacturing process is not an easy one and great care is taken in production to ensure that the fabric is of good quality.
Chenille fabric can be made of different fibers even though cotton is the most commonly used fiber. Other fibers that can, and are used to make chenille include acrylic, olefin and rayon. The cost of the fabric will depend on the fiber composition with fabric comprised of natural fibers costing more than the ones made of manmade fibers.
It is very important to take good care of items made of chenille fabric. This type of fabric should be dry cleaned as much as possible. If you are hand washing the fabric, it should be done gently. The fabric should never be hung to dry as this will cause stretching. It should be dried flat or machine dried in low heat. If not taken care of, clothing made of chenille will begin to show tears and areas of wearing thin.