Can You Spot the Chenille Impostor?

If you’ve been in the chenille world for any length of time, I’m willing to bet you’ve received your fair share of disappointments. You know the ones – those that were described in “perfect” condition (try finding that in anything antique or vintage), only to arrive to you riddled with knotty fringe, undisclosed but very noticeable discolorations, holes, thinning, etc.

But there’s something that might even be more annoying than that. I call it Impostor Chenille. Take a look at the images below – all really pretty vintage chenille bedspreads, right? Maybe.vintage candlewicks

The last two images show true vintage chenille spreads, likely all cotton. But the first is a different story. That one, though lovely at first glance, is the impostor. It is made of what’s called Tricel. These cheap knockoffs were made to look like original chenille bedspreads, but were manufactured in the heyday of everything cheap and poly – typically the late 1960s into the 1970s.

How much of the spread is junk can vary – some will still have a cotton or cotton blend groundcloth but with fully acrylic tufting; others will have a dreadfully awful groundcloth that almost looks (and feels) like a cheap carpet that you’d put in your mudroom.

morgan jones chenille bedspreadIf the “chenille” spread is pretty at a quick glance, what are some of the drawbacks? To name just a few:

  • Typically the tufting on these up close will look clumpy, almost as thought the lines of chenille are wet and matted down.
  • They attract lint, dust, and other particles faster than a pickup magnet can latch onto that tiny screw you dropped under your desk.
  • Last but certainly not least – the texture and how they feel against you is terrible – and if they’re really cheap, the material actually feels like scratchy insulation.

Many well-intending but uninformed sellers on major sites like eBay and Etsy really do not know the difference, so it’s buyer beware. It’s up to you to take out your magnifying glass and examine closely, especially if you’re prepared to pay a lot (or in the online world, just make sure you use the “Zoom” feature most major ecommerce platforms like eBay and Etsy now offer).

In our decades of collecting, I find that the biggest risk for getting stuck with one of these “chenille” clunkers is from British Candlewick spreads, but you can definitely find the occasional one popping up much closer to home here in the States.

But…What about Morgan Jones Rosebud Chenille Bedspreads? Vantona?

I already know what you’re thinking –  what about Morgan Jones? Aren’t most of their spreads a cotton blend of some sort?rosebud chenille bedspread

Yes, they are. And so are Vantona, which produced their own (British) version of Morgan Jones beloved rosebud pattered bedspreads. However, for the most part those these were a cotton blend (not 100% acrylic) that were much softer, resistant to lint pickup, and (to my knowledge) never used an all-poly groundcloth such as the example I cited above.

In fact, Morgan Jones, Bates, and Vantona are prized amongst crafters and quilters alike for the outstanding quality in color and texture they bring into projects large and small.

The dazzling array of chubby pops with looser tufting, dense popcorns that are tightly bound, big blooming rosebuds to petite ones — offer a seemingly endless array of incredible fabrics that bring a standout presence to any project.

In the end, it’s up to you to decide.