Who can resist the soft smooth nap of new minky fabric, it just beckons you to stroke the soft cuddly fibres. I see the bolts of it in the fabric store and all I want to do is curl up in the layers of its strokable softness. If I had to describe minky in one word, that word would be; strokable. I love the feel of minky, it just makes you want to stroke it against your cheek and snuggle up to it.
As soft and luxurious minky is to touch it is just as difficult and daunting to work with. I have collected a couple of pieces of minky, purchased when the price was just too good not to. However I never really knew what to do with them and never felt particularly comfortable diving into a minky project. This changed however when I came across a stockpile of the most gorgeous minky fabrics, a supplier was selling at irresistible prices. I couldn’t say no; pink and white chevron, pink with different length nap in a chevron pattern and light pink with raised dots.
As soon as I saw the collection of pinks I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. A friends little girl was turning two and as a very special little person I wanted to make her something she would love and cherish for her birthday. Like a lot of young girls, her favourite colour is pink, however I have never met someone that loves pink quite like little Miss E, she gets so excited about it that all she is able to do is clench her little fists and hug them to her chest in delight. The strokable texture of minky and the vibrant pinks made it the perfect fabric for a cuddly blankly for such a little girly toddler.
I wanted to make Miss E a blanket for her cute new toddler bed. I wanted to make sure that it would also be a nice size for a single bed or a throw rug when she grows out of her toddler bed; I just hope she doesn’t grow out of pink! I used the self binding blanket method that I had used a few times before; I love the YouTube tutorial that Missouri Star Quilt Company has. But I wanted to make it bigger and put a fun twist on it. I decided that the best way to incorporate all the beautiful minky fabrics I have was to create a patchworked front to the blanket. I wanted to keep the patchwork really simple as there was already so much going on with the fabrics themselves so I chose to simply do squares of the minky in an alternating pattern. This was a very simple design but it was a little bit more time consuming with the minky.
The steps for my variation to the self binding blanket tutorial are;
- Decide on the various fabrics you will be using for the front piece ensuring that they are beautifully coordinated or in my case make sure they are pink of any description.
- Pick 1 fabric for the back of the blanket, keep in mind that this fabric will also serve as the binding and a boarder around the patchworked front so it will need to be co-coordinating, or pink!
- Sizes of the front and back pieces of fabric will depend on the size you want the blanket and the thickness of the boarder/binding you want around the front. If you want a blanket of an overall size of 100cm x 150cm with a boarder/binding thickness of 10cm then you will want the front piece to be 80cm x 130cm plus seam allowance and the back piece to be 120cm x 170cm plus seam allowance.
- Once you have calculated the size you will need to make the front piece you will then need to calculate how many squares you will need and of what size, be sure to include seam allowances into your calculations. If your front piece needs to measure 80cm x 130cm plus seam allowance and you wanted the squares on the final product to be 10cm x 10cm then you will need; 104 square of fabric measuring 10cm x 10cm plus seam allowance and if your seam allowance is 2cm for example each of your squares will in fact need to be 14cm x 14cm in size.
- After all the calculations is the fun/messy part; cutting. When I have to cut a large number of squares I like to make things easier for myself and use a square quilters ruler and a rotary cutter and I actually cut right around my ruler, the size of my ruler determines the size of my squares so I actually have to work in reverse when calculating the size of my blanket or just wing it and hope I have enough fabric (I don’t recommend winging it as it leads to another trip to the fabric store to get more fabric for the back of the quilt as the piece you had wasn’t big enough and then you end up buying half the store whilst you are there, I am not speaking from experience I assure you).
- Now that you have cut out a million squares of fabric and you would be happy to never see a square again in your life, layout all your lovely cut pieces of fabric (note they are no longer squares to me because I don’t want to hate them based on their shape) to decide on the arrangement you will want them to be in the blanket. Be sure to take note of the direction of the nap of the minky (see tips and tricks points below).
- Putting the pieces together is the same as piecing together any quilt front; a great YouTube tutorial for this is by; you guessed it, the Missouri Star Quilt Company (I am not endorsed by them, I promise, I just really love her tutorials).
- Once your blanket front is together you will then be able to follow the self binding tutorial as normal.
After doing a lot of research I felt more confident in working with minky. I read enough blogs, watch enough YouTube videos and I thought to myself “Oh I got this!” It was surprisingly easy to work with minky; I had heard and read of people not liking to work with the fabric or like myself just not knowing how to work with it. Below are a few tips and tricks that I learnt through research or along the way.
- There is no need to pre-wash minky as it will not shrink after wash. However if you are incorporating minky into a project with other fabrics such as cotton, be sure to pre-wash the other fabrics.
- Minky goes EVERYWHERE. It is going to make a mess and you are just going to have to deal with it. So if you are a super neat and tidy person that can’t stand mess it’s best not to work with it. When the fabric is cut, the fibres of the nap along the cut edge come away from the weave and they go everywhere, you will be finding little pieces of fluff in places you didn’t think was possible.
- I had read that with minky it is best to pin like crazy, this is because the nap of the fabric when placed together create movement, kind of like trying to force two magnets together the wrong way. But I got lazy and it turned out OK. However I think this was because I was only really working with small squares and/or straight lines so there weren’t any real challenges in my design and I took it really slow and careful with the sewing machine.
- This next tip is really only important if you are a perfectionist like myself. Make sure that you pay attention to the direction of the nap when cutting out your pieces and sewing them together. For example if you were making a stuffed animal you may want to make sure that the nap laid in the same direction as a real animals fur would go, that way you would be patting the toy animal in the same direction you would be patting the real animal such as from head to tail on a cat or dog. I wanted to make sure that the squares on the blanket all had the nap laying in same direction so that when you stroked it you weren’t stroking the naps in different ways. Nitpicking I know.
- The minky that I was working with and I believe it is the same for most minky, had no stretch in one direction and a lot of stretch in the other direction. This wasn’t so much of an issue with this particular project but it could be for other projects that you could use minky for.
I still have a few pieces of minky fabric in my stash and with this new found minky confidence I can’t wait to make something else. What would you suggest I make with it? What have you made with minky and would recommend to try or to avoid?