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Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Working with chintz in patchwork and other sewing projects.

Working with chintz in patchwork and other sewing projects.

Chintz has been used in patchwork since 17th century when it was imported from India.   I started using chintz in 1984 after receiving a commission from Charles Hammond Ltd and have been using it ever since.  Unlike craft cotton it is covered in a thin layer of resin creating a glazed effect.  The colours are vibrant and rich and slightly harder to hand sew.  Use a sharp fine crewel needle.  

Whilst chintz is a wonderful fabric to work with it does have its disadvantages.  

If you are buying chintz for the first time compare the glaze and quality from brand to brand, in general the more you pay the better your fabric.  Locate quality soft furnishing showrooms or curtain makers.  In past I have brought excellent quality end of rolls in markets but these finds are few. Buying online can be tricky, always ask for samples before committing to an expensive purchase. 

Try the rip test, the harder the pull the stronger your fabric.  Some chintz snags when you rip and I have found these brands to be inferior.  If the fabric rips easily avoid.   Compare density, richness of colour and general feel. Some chintz feels thin and fine but has high density weave and high in gloss, I have known these to be excellent quality.  Some chintz sold as cotton almost feels like polyester, so perhaps it is. Avoid sateen because it is more loosely woven.  In the past I have asked for chintz and been sold sateen, its something to watch for.  

If you are making an item that needs washing avoid red as it tends to bleed. Wash all your chosen fabrics first because chintz does shrink a bit and poor quality chintz looses its glaze.  Pre-washing is not necessary if making wall hangings or items that will not be washed.  The benefit being retaining the lovely shiny glaze.

Chintz is notorious for creasing these creases are very difficult to remove.  To an extent you can remove a crease by using the hottest iron setting, spray with a fine plant sprayer filled with water and not the sprayer on your iron.  If ironing strips of chintz hold the fabric taught and iron as you go along, this seems to help a bit.  If this fails camouflage, yes camouflage, there is always a way around it!

To camouflage a crease:  the simplest way is to run a straight machine stitch over the crease whilst the fabric is in one piece then use as per normal.  I love the extra texture this gives and also the surprise of seeing it blend into work.  If using small patchwork shapes I would not bother with this method, although if the crease becomes irritating hand embroider over it.  Another way is to machine couch wool over a crease.

So to summarise, look for a nice shiny glaze, a strong feeling texture with plenty of vibrant colour.  
good quality chintz
machine couch wool over a crease

Left: chintz patchwork. Right craft cotton patchwork
single line of machine stitching hides the crease