Monday, March 4, 2013

Is it Minky?

So, how many of you call this stuff "Kleenex?"
I do and probably always will.
I know that "Kleenex" is a brand name for tissue, but it doesn't stop me from using it as a generic term.

Over the past few years I have quilted a lot of client's quilts with "Minky."
These photos are all clients quilts.
Minky (Minkee) is a brand name created by Versailles Home Textile.

I know that "Minky" is a brand name for this soft, luxurious, wonderfully fluffy fabric; but, it doesn't stop me from using it as a generic term.

This kind of fabric is also branded: 
"Cuddle Up" and "Snuggle Up" by Alexander Henry
"Cuddle Fabrics" by Shannon Fabrics

There are probably more, but these are the only ones I am aware of at this time.

When a customer brings me a length of this for backing I have no way of knowing that brand it is and when I blog, I tote out my "generic" term and call it "Minky."

I have several bolts of it in my studio right now and I have some "Minky" and some "Cuddle Fabrics."

I also have this great box of tissues (aka Kleenex) that my favorite son-in-law gave to me:
If someone needs one of these I always point and say, "There are Kleenex over there."

Everyone that also does this raise your hands . . .

 . . . I thought so.

Anyway, I have been asked a few times about quilting with Minky and so I thought I would do a blog devoted to just that purpose.

1) I prefer to load the minky with the selvages perpendicular to the rollers. You will find other quilters that swear by pinning the selvages on the roller.  This is my preference not a rule that needs to be followed.  I can tell you that the fabric has less stretch that way. Each time I roll, I back off the roller to make sure I am not stretching it too much because I once rolled it snugly like I do my cotton-backed quilts and when I took this little 40 x 40 inch baby quilt off the frame it rebounded just like a rubber band.  I had to unpick the whole shrunken little thing!  Looked like ruching gone bad.

For me, the exception to my rule is when I have to piece a minky backing for a large quilt.  This was a queen sized "Around the World" quilt that had 2 lengths of minky pieced together. For that large of a backing you would have to put the center seam parallel with your rollers or you are going to have a huge lump in the middle of your roller and loose and baggy left and right sides.  It takes a bit of care, but easily done as long as you don't stretch it too tight.
Queen Sized top with minky backing. 
Here is another queen sized quilt backed with minky.

Here is a customer quilt with minky borders . . . 
 . . . and a minky backing.

2) Pin a lot if you have minky top and bottom.  Here, the outer border needed to be pinned  frequently as I quilted to keep the stretch under control as the top and bottom were stretchy.
3) Have fun! I like to toss in a few minky scraps in a top for a baby quilt.  This tactile difference makes a fun pop in an otherwise flat quilt top.
Just quilt over it like any other block. 

4) There are no rules if you are piecing scraps together to make a backing.  I also use a scant 1/2 inch seam for piecing a back like this.  It's just too hard to maintain a 1/4 inch seam with minky.  When piecing--pin, pin, pin and use your walking foot.  If you don't have a walking foot, raise your presser foot so the top layer is not scooted along when you sew...and pin

I save all my scraps and then make these little quilts and bind it with fleece. Fleece binding tutorial.

5) This is "Curly Minky" and I treat it just like any other minky.  Just try to ignore the pile and quilt like you would normally do.
6) Don't be afraid of applique on a minky backed quilt.  Here is an example of a baby quilt with raw edged applique and a minky backing.

Here is another cute customer quilt with applique:
Minky back.

7) Minky top and minky back is very challenging.  I always use batting and you have to pin a lot to keep the top from moving under your hopping foot. Here, I followed the seams with a wavy zig zag and did some simple loops in the outer border.

8)Batting--always.  I prefer to use Hobbs 80/20.  I do not use a 100% cotton batting because it will tend to draw up through the top with the stitch.  Make sure what ever kind of batting you use on any quilt is right side up.  Use your manufacturers guidelines on the right and wrong side of your batting.  Usually, it's folded on the bolt or in the package with the right side out.

9) Thread.  Polyester--always.  I have learned never to use cotton thread because cotton thread likes to pull up the minky pile to the top of the quilt. I always use polyester "So Fine" by Superior thread.  I match the thread to the pieced top and use the same color on the bottom.  You could use hot pink on brown minky because it hardly shows in the pile.

This was quilted with white polyester thread top and bottom.

10)  I always use a longer stitch length. It sinks into the pile and I guarantee you don't want to have to pick out any tiny stitching with minky.  I have never broken a needle using minky.  I think I only remember breaking one needle in the 6 years I have been quilting...and it was not on minky.

11) Don't cry over minky cleanup.  Here is a tutorial detailing how I handle this dreaded fuzzy fallout.

12) Quilting with minky can give your client a great surprise on the back when the top fabrics are too busy to show the quilting details.

I hope this has answered some questions and given you some ideas about using this fabulous fabric product.    
Did I mention I only have one son-in-law?  But he is still my favorite and always will be!

Here are a few more photos of quilts with Minky.


  1. Great post. I've never used Minky on a quilt, but there is always a first time. Right?

  2. Thank you so much for writing about your experience with Minky type fabric. I am almost ready to quilt on some.

  3. Thanks for all the information, but I don't think I'm ready yet. Maybe I'll get a piece and play. See if I can tell when stretched too tight or too loose.

  4. oh! Thank you for writing this up so beautifully. :) Pinning so it'll be easy to come back to.

  5. Once again, your quilting is lovely. I'm trying to use Minke for the back of baby 'ribbon' quilts. I'm just in the pinning stage so far. Small, and not much quilting to be done on these. I hope my machine likes this stuff.

  6. I really enjoyed your minky post. I had baby quilt (Christmas rush) one year that I over stretched, picking out the stitches. Your description of the rubber band bounce was almost identical to my quilt! I now know the correct tension for minky for sure and yes, selvedge perpendicular for sure if possible, lol. I still don't love loading it, but minkee makes a beautiful back on large or small quilts. Your quilt examples are lovely. Thanks

  7. Where did you find the pattern for the adorable turtle quilt???!? I've looked everywhere

  8. The Turtle quilt is just a strip quilt with a clever clip art applique. She also made one with a pony and one with a moose. She just enlarged the clip art. Also can use color book pictures for applique.

  9. Can you possibly post a link that that turtle clip art, thanks so much!!! ADORABLE

  10. I contacted my customer and she has no idea where she found the link for the turtle.... it was about 3 years ago. Sorry.

  11. Thank you for the ideas. I used the minky just because I liked it and never thought about how to quilt it, until....... i had it ready to go and realized I no control of the fabric. This helps alot.

  12. Is there any chance you have a pattern for the Turtle Quilt?
    My son and daughter-in-law really like it and are about to
    have their first baby.
    I would love to be able to make this for them.
    I do not have a free arm machine, but would attempt
    to do as free motion.


  13. Sorry, there is no pattern for the turtle quilt, my client made fabric strips and the turtle was clip art.

  14. Thank you very much... I was hoping!

  15. The turtle quilt also caught my attention so thanks for asking the question Kathy! I also love the floral (pinks and reds) as well is there a pattern for that one or is it designed the same way?? You have some beautiful pieces, I enjoyed looking through your photo gallery and will probably be back to look at it again :) Nancy

  16. Thanks Nancy. The floral quilt was made by a client. I don't know if she used a pattern or not. I only quilted it for her. I might be able to ask her, but it was such a long time ago. I appreciate your kind comments.



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