When you buy your first piece of vintage chenille fabric, you’re hooked.
It’s love at first sight. A range of textures from the cozy soft 1940s plush tufts to nubby 1960s era pops…colors spanning the spectrum…and patterns as varied as anyone can imagine.
The creative momentum wells up inside of you, dreaming of all the projects and crafts you could make with this awesome fabric. And if you’re the type of person who gets bored easily with your projects, chenille is the answer to your creative woes.
Before you know it, the postman will be at your door daily, delivering plenty of packages packed with tufted goodness.
Eventually you store some in totes, some in your sewing room, on the backs of couches…and maybe your beds have five layers of vintage chenille bedspreads (even in the summer, I have at least 3…on every bed in the house).
You’ve been bitten by the chenille bug.
The only remedy? Buy more chenille, of course!
Reimagining How You Think About Vintage Chenille
An Etsy search yields many pages of incredibly talented folks showcasing their creative flair. The breadth of creativity is awe-inspiring:
New life is breathed into Grandma’s beloved old chenille bedspreads, transforming them into heirloom baby quilts, handcrafted chenille robes & fashions, decorative pillows, snuggly baby toys, and more.
But one very successful Etsy entrepreneur gives vintage chenille bedspreads an entirely new lease on life, redefining how we think about this beloved textile.
Meet Tracey, Founder of BaggageandCo on Etsy
Baggageandco carries some pretty awesome handmade bags and cases for Essential Oils and Diffusers. “If you’re looking for something different, functional and adorable….you found it!” reads her shop intro.
Born and raised in Wisconsin, Tracey had an idea one day: She wanted to make a bag.
That little idea transformed into big success.
A Small Bag Makes a BIG Hit
She purchased a YL starter kit to “make a bag” that can hold essential oil bottles and a diffuser. And like the old saying goes, “The rest is history, baby.”
Each bag is hand sewn, using quality fabrics and supplies often sourced from other Etsy shops, along with specialty items like zippers and tassels purchased locally.
Her work took off – her latest sale totals on Etsy exceed a whopping 77,000 – with over 24,000 followers. On Instagram, over 63K loyal followers look forward to seeing her new creations.
In 2019, “I came across the ‘textured fabric’” explains Tracey. “I was looking for something different than the regular cotton floral fabrics from Joann’s that everyone was using.”
Many people today don’t remember the tufted bedspreads that were hugely popular during their heyday of the 1940s and 50s. “I didn’t know the name of the fabric but searched ‘textured fabric’ on Etsy and found exactly what I was looking for,” Tracey says.
She bought her first chenille fabric, paired the bags with big chunky tassels and called them “anthro inspired.”
The results? Nothing short of amazing!
“I released my first batch of bags in February (2019), and they sold out in 8 minutes!”
The photo above shows how she introduced her new line to her large Instagram following – everyone was so excited and wanted to see more. The fabulous bags shown below in the bin are the ones that sold out from the first release. “I grabbed one bag of every style we released that night and posted that picture as a thank you,” shares Tracey.
The next morning, Tracey woke up to hundreds of messages on both her Etsy and Instagram accounts with people asking for more. She was bitten by the chenille bug, and started buying lots of vintage chenille to create her one-of-a-kind works of art. Fascinated with each piece, she wondered why wasn’t it made anymore.
The Vanishing Vintage Chenille Bedspread
Over time, many tons of vintage chenille found its way to “rag factories” and landfills where ultimately it disappeared forever. For its once-widespread use, very little on the full, in-depth history of chenille is readily available or easily accessible.
Even large, once well-known manufacturers have seemingly vanished without a trace, with little more than a few sentences here or there providing a small glimpse into their rich history.
Though Canyon Group generated a renewed interest in the 1990s with their beloved “wedding cake” style “The Nanny” robes and other bathrobes in whimsical, cute designs, public interest in this tufty textile never matched its heyday again.
Re-Envisioning a Future for Chenille Fluffs & Tufts
Ever the creative entrepreneur, Tracey hopes to one day recreate chenille fabric – imagine being able to own a tufting machine to develop new designs.
She made a chenille ‘wall’ of fabric in her shop from chenille pieces she has collected over the past several years. Each week, she stands in front of it and lets her inspiration – and creativity – take over.
And just as chenille is a ‘wonder’ fabric to create with, Tracey is a ‘wonder’ woman, too – a busy mom to 3 children – there’s no downtime in her busy days. Her business was ‘born’ when her children were small, and she admits now, she doesn’t know how she did it…
Tracey’s success is a living example of Maya Angelou’s infamous quote – may it inspire all the other mompreneurs and creatives out there to discover their own unique path to fulfillment & success:
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
And with chenille, the creativity is…endless!
You can find Tracey & her fabulous creations on:
- Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/BaggageandCO
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/baggage_and_co
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/baggageandCo/