Quilting With Minky!

Quilted Minky

Quilted Minky

Quilting started as a necessity.  People needed warm bedding in cold weather.  Our ancestors used scraps of fabric from wherever they could get them, even using grain sacks.  Beauty wasn’t the first goal; warmth was.  My! how times have changed!

Today we are fortunate to live in a Land of Plenty with oodles of fabric choices – cottons, satins, silks, flannels, etc. and minky!  Cotton is sturdy and has minimal stretch unless cut on a diagonal.  Satins can be stretchy where silks are typically not stretchy at all.  Flannels are similar to cotton.  The difference is flannel is soft and fuzzy.  Minky is similar to fleece with the softest feel you can imagine.  It’s delightful!  BUT MINKY STRETCHES!

This can be problematic when using this type of fabric as backing for your quilt.  If you are tying your quilt, minky is fine so long as you don’t stretch it when anchoring the fabric.  If stretched, your quilt will look lumpy after it is tied.  Think of a stretched elastic being released.

Loaded on the machine without any stretch.

Loaded on the machine without any stretch.

If your quilt will be stitched by a long-arm quilter, there are a couple of things to consider.  A quilt that is put on a long-arm machine is quilted from the top side of the quilt.  This means the quilter cannot see what’s happening under the machine (the back of the quilt) unless you keep looking under each time you stop the machine or when you roll the quilt to work on the next section.  I make sure to do this so there’s no surprise later; ie., a pleat in the backing fabric!  However, if you use a stretchy fabric such as minky, it may have a tendency to stretch as the machine moves over it and can cause a pucker or pleat that the quilter won’t see until the quilt is rolled to work on the next section.  Because minky is so dense, it would be a nightmare to rip out stitches!

Fabric will stretch more on the weft direction (side to side, if you will) versus the warp direction (top to bottom).  I learned these terms when I had a time of weaving.  Great hobby, by the way.  As long as minky can be loaded on the machine with the warp being horizontal, there should be no problem using it.  The reason minky may not be able to be loaded this way is if it is too long for the width of the machine.  Loading minky horizontally allows the weft, or stretchy sides, to be anchored by clips on the side of the machine.  The goal with the clips is to keep the fabric straight and even.  Never is the goal to stretch backing fabric.  This is why it’s so important to have a square piece of fabric for your backing.  More on that in another post here.Minky loaded on Gammill

Minky is dense and your quilted stitches will show, but not as individual stitches.  They will look more like a line in the fabric without distinct stitches.  (See photo below.)  This minky is a very pale green.  I used RED thread!

Notice how the individual stitches disappear.

Notice how the individual stitches disappear.

 

At times when I have quilted quilts with minky, I have only been able to quilt them from the back.  They were so stretchy that they could not be loaded on the machine as a backing.  I had to load the quilt top on the machine as I would a backing and then lay the minky, or backing fabric, on top.  This meant I could not place designs in specific areas on the front, and I was very limited on how the quilt could be quilted.

So there you have it!  Use minky by all means but with the understanding it potentially limits how your quilt can be long-arm quilted.  Also, consider how the minky will be loaded on the machine for quilting.  Which direction is the stretch?  Is it too wide for the machine that will be quilting it?  Most quilting tables are 12 or 14 feet wide.

Minky isn’t just for baby quilts.  The one in these photos is a queen size.  Ooh, la la!!Rose on minky

Comments

  1. Good to know! Thanks for the tips!

  2. What a challenge!

  3. Lucy, Minky is fun to work with and can be a challenge. I love the results!

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