Chenille Upholstery Fabric

Chenille Upholstery Fabric

There are so many great kinds of fabric out there for apparel and interior decor use. One of the fabrics you may have heard of– or seen while you were shopping– is chenille. It has a very particular look and elegance about it, so you may be wondering if it would be a good choice for your home upholstery projects. Well, you’re in luck– chenille is a popular fabric that is often used for upholstery! Of course, whether chenille is right for you in particular will depend on what you are looking for and what needs will need to be filled.

Read on to learn more about chenille fabric and its unique qualities and if chenille upholstery fabric is the right choice for you.

What Is Chenille?

First things first, what is chenille? Chenille– which is also the French word for caterpillar– is a soft, naturally obtained fabric. The material is a stretchable fabric, which means that backing is necessary when upholstering with it. Chenille is most commonly used as an indoor upholstery fabric, bedspreads, throws and decorative pillows, headboards and as a drapery fabric. Sometimes, it can be found in apparel and rugs, too. It is truly a versatile textile with a soft, smooth hand– it can attest its popularity to these characteristics.

The chenille yarn is manufactured by placing short lengths of yarn, called the “pile”, between two “core yarns” and then twisting the yarn together. The edges of these piles then stand at right angles to the yarn’s core, giving chenille both its softness and its characteristic look. Chenille will look different in one direction compared to another, as the fibers catch the light differently.

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Pros of Chenille Upholstery Fabric

Below, we will go over some of the great advantages for chenille if you choose it for an upholstery project!


When upholstering your furniture, you do, of course, want to be sure that you are choosing a fabric that will last! Luckily, chenille is known to be a durable textile and can stand up to everyday wear and tear. Depending on the weave, the fabric may be stronger than some other chenilles. Generally, tightly woven chenille is stronger than chenille with a looser weave.

Easy to Maintain

Chenille is also easy to maintain and care for! This is always a perk for furniture, especially when you consider that means you have less to do in order to keep your furniture looking new. It is also easy to clean, which is especially beneficial if you have small children or pets in your house that may make a mess upon the furniture. Chenille is comparable to velvet in looks, but it is easier to clean than velvet is, which makes it a more practical choice.

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In addition to being easy to take care of and long lasting, chenille comes in plenty of different colour or print options– as well as different textures. It can be woven to have either a soft and smooth hand feel, or a more chunky, textured stretch surface. This makes it easy for you to find a chenille fabric that you like and that will match the existing aesthetic of your space. Because of the many colour options, chenille fabric is an excellent choice for making decorative pillowcases.

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Cons of Chenille Upholstery Fabric

There are also some disadvantages and drawbacks to chenille fabric, so you should be aware of these before you make any decisions for your upholstery project.

Not Dust Resistant

Unfortunately, while chenille is easy to clean and maintain, it is not dust resistant. This can be difficult to deal with, especially if you have allergies. Even if you have no allergies, it means that you will have to dust or clean the furniture more frequently. This is because the long fibers can attract dirt and debris, which can then get stuck in the fibers and need to be cleaned out.

Not Pet Friendly

Chenille is also not pet friendly, so it may not be the best choice if you have pets. Fur and dander can easily get caught and stuck in these long fibers, just like the dust we discussed above. Plus, your pets’ nails may get caught in the pile and the fine lustrous yarns of the fabric, which can cause damage.

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It is also important to note that chenille is a stretchy fabric. When upholstering with a stretchy fabric, you will need to use a backing. This can make the process more difficult and complicated. The use of a backing can make the project more expensive, too, as you will need to purchase both the chenille and the backing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is chenille a good upholstery Fabric?

Chenille can be a great choice for an upholstery fabric, because the fabric is aesthetically pleasing and also easy to clean and maintain. However, if you have pets in your home, it may not be the best fabric choice if your animals will be on the furniture. Whether or not it is a good fabric for your needs will depend on the lifestyle you and your family lead, of course!

Is chenille hard wearing for a sofa?

The durability of chenille does partially depend on the weave of the fabric. For example, tightly woven chenille is stronger than loosely woven chenille options. Chenille fabric is a soft and luxurious, but luckily it is also durable, which can make it a great choice if you are looking to upholster a sofa or couch. Even if you use this sofa often, the fabric you have chosen should be able to stand up to everyday wear and tear.

Can you upholster with chenille?

Yes, you certainly can upholster with chenille fabrics! It is a soft fabric that comes in many different colour options, so it can become a popular choice for furniture upholstery projects. It is a better alternative to velvet for these types of projects, as it can be made to either have a smooth and even surface, or a more chunky and textured feel. Like velvet, though, chenille is still soft and plush to the touch.

What is chenille fabric upholstery?

Chenille is a type of fabric that is made from synthetic– or natural!– fibers like rayon, silk, wool, or cotton. It is versatile and can be found in many different applications, from rugs to clothing to furniture upholstery treatments! It became very popular in the 1990s, and has a particular soft and luxurious feel to it. If used for upholstery, it can really elevate the vibe of your living space, and is also durable and easy to take care of. 

If you would like to compare some other types of fabrics that are suitable for upholstery, visit our blog on How To Choose Upholstery Fabric. If durability is a very important to you when choosing an upholstery fabric, visit Upholstery Fabric Durability Ratings.