Slice & Stitch Challenge: Cassandra Beaver

We’re thrilled to bring you the fifth installment of our six Slice & Stitch Challenge posts for this year. We’ve loved partnering with our good friends at OLFA. With each installment, one Aurifil Artisan + one OLFA Ambassador will receive the same products with the challenge to make one new project to share with all of you.


Cassandra Beaver AND Amanda Brown

Chenille Cutters & Aurifil 40wt

And now, please allow us to introduce you to Cassandra of The (not so) Dramatic Life and Amanda of Fabric Heart. My goodness they both took the creation of chenille to the absolute next level and we can’t wait to hear what you all think! Check out the tips, the tricks, the tutorials, and more, and start thinking about all the ways you might incorporate the Chenille Cutters and Aurifil 40wt into your own crafty life!

Hello!  I am Cassandra Beaver of The (not so) Dramatic Life, and I am excited to share a project that combines a new-to-me technique with classic patchwork.

This plush, cuddle ready pillow is created with the use of 40wt Aurifil, an Olfa Chenille Cutter, and Kona cotton.  Here in the northern hemisphere, we are heading into Autumn and the layered softness of chenille is perfect to reflect the cooling temperatures.  The rich jewel tone colors used in this design are some of my favorites for Fall and Winter, and the wide range of colors in the Aurifil palette made it easy to select threads that matched these fabrics perfectly. For this project I used:

  • Aurifil Red (2250) with Kona Cardinal
  • Aurifil Neon Orange (1104) with Kona Flame
  • Aurifil Plum (4030) with Kona Berry
  • Aurifil Dark Delft Blue (2780) with Kona Ocean

When approaching this design, I wanted to rework a traditional block design by incorporating a different technique.  Multiple layers of fabric are used to create the chenille effect, so I tried to keep the extra layers in mind while choosing a patchwork design.  Basic shapes and minimal seams help the texture of the chenille take center stage.  I looked through Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Blocks for design inspiration and selected block 1316c, Triangle Weave, for the pillow top design.

There is a strong linear quality to the chenille fabric, so I also considered how the directionality would effect the overall design.

Four to eight layers of fabric are suggested to create the chenille.  Since the chenille in this project was going into a patchwork design, I opted for five layers of fabric to keep the amount of fabric in each seam allowance relatively low.  The base layer of fabric is cut slightly larger than the upper layers to make it easier to cut only the upper layers.

The chenille cutter is designed to cut four different sizes.  Each size requires a channel to be stitched in the appropriate size between 1/8” and 1/2” wide.  The smaller the size, the softer the appearance and texture.  The medium setting was used for this project.

The channels are stitched parallel to each other through all of the fabric layers and can be straight or gently curved.  By cutting diagonal to the grain of the fabric, you virtually eliminate the possibility of excessive fraying.  The stability of the chenille fabric depends on each row of stitching, so 40wt Aurifil was the perfect thread for the job.  Once the channels are sewn, the chenille cutter is used to slice through the upper layers of fabric.  The larger base layer of fabric makes it easy to keep separate it from the upper layers. The cutter is designed to prevent accidentally cutting the base layer of fabric once you have fed the cutter into the stitched channel.  The cutting part of the project is easy and fast!  When the cutter starts to resist moving through the fabric, a short turn of the front knob exposes a new section of blade.

The magic of the process happens when the stitched and cut fabric is washed.  The sharp cutting lines relax and curl into an almost velvety texture. While the outer edges of the chenille squares will fray, the cuts made on the bias will not.

Traditional piecing techniques worked well with the chenille fabric, but I did use a walking foot to help prevent shifting of the layers.  Pressing the seam allowances open kept everything laying flat.

Since the edges of the squares that are on the straight of grain can ravel, I fused a piece of SF101 interfacing on the back of the pillow top to enclose the raw edges that could compromise the long term structural integrity of the pillow.  The back of the pillow is matching fabric with a lapped zipper closure.

The pillow finished at 20” square and has a 26” feather pillow form inside.


To enter to win

click HERE. You do not have to complete all of the entries, but the more you do, the greater your chance of winning! This giveaway is open to all of our friends, worldwide. Entries will be accepted between now and 11:59pm on Thursday, October 3rd. Winner will be contacted via email. Good luck!

Head on over to OLFA’s blog to check out Amanda’s (Fabric Heart) project and don’t miss our next and last Slice & Stitch Challenge for 2019 coming up in November!


Cassandra loves to create. For her, it takes many forms and her blog focuses mostly on her life as a fiber artist. Her mother taught her to sew around the age of three or four. She learned to quilt first, then she started sewing clothes, and then quilted clothes. After that she entered a career where she spent a lot of time sewing clothing as well as other things. Cassandra has recently returned to the quilt world, and is excited to share her adventures.

Most of her professional life has been spent in the theatre. She is trained as a scenic and costume designer, and has also spent many years working in various technical roles behind the scenes. Those experiences inform her overall design aesthetic as well as helping her to develop skills which allow her to execute (almost) anything she can dream up. Hence… the (not so) dramatic life.


  1. What a fabulous project! I have wanted to make large floor pillows for the great-grands and this technique is so different and would be cuddly. Thanks for the inspiration, and shopping for one of the cutters and fun fabrics today is a good excuse to visit the LQS!

  2. Amazing tool! I’ve always seen this tool but never really explored what it can do. Beautiful results on the pillow Cassandra and Amanda! No idea that cutting premium cotton’s would look so glorious. Thank you all for the tips, the full tutorial and of course all the insight on how to use the Olfa Chenille tool!

Leave a Reply