Monday, November 16, 2015

backing quilts with minky

You've probably noticed I am a huge fan of using minky to back my quilts. We live in a Chicago suburb and winters here are loooong and super cold. And minky is gorgeously soft and warm which makes it a perfect backing for most of our "everyday" quilts. In fact, minky backed quilts are pretty much the only quilts my kids like to snuggle in.

Every time I talk about using minky to back my quilts I receive quite a few questions about my experience sewing with it so, as promised, I'll try to answer as many of them as I can in this post. Ready? Here we go.


Let me start by saying I buy all my minky at a nearby Joann store. Now, their selection isn't ginormous by any stretch of imagination, but I always manage to find something to match my quilt top and that's good enough for me, since the quality is great and the price very reasonable.


I backed many quilts with minky over the years - lots of baby quilts, but also many throw sized ones as well. Largest quilts I backed with minky were three 70" square ones for my kids and I think this was about the largest size I'd want to go.

I really like that most minky fabrics are about 60" wide so many times there's no need to piece my backings. If, however, your quilt is wider than 60", you have to pay attention to minky's nap and make sure all your minky's fabric pile points in the same direction. It will help with hiding your seam.


When making a quilt sandwich, I use minky for backing, batting (usually Warm and White or Warm and Natural) goes in the middle, and patchwork on top. I don't prewash my fabric, batting, or minky  and I have not had any issues with shrinkage so far.

 I glue baste all my quilts, even the minky backed ones. My main advice would be not to be stingy with your glue spray. You need quite a lot of it (I spray both wrong side of minky as well as batting so the two layers stick together well). And, the same goes for pins. If you use pins, use a lot of them. I'd say overbasting is a good thing when it comes to minky backed quilts :).


 I personally would not recommend doing any intricate quilting on a minky backed quilt. I think these quilts benefit from sparer quilting which keeps them beautifully soft  and gives the finished quilt a fantastic drape.


 And, you can free motion quilt minky as well. I did a continuous eight pattern one time and it worked just fine. My eights were not perfect but it was not because of minky, it's because I don't practice FMQ :(.

  Good thing to remember though is that a quilt backed with minky is heavier than your usual quilt which means you probably would feel more of a "drag" when quilting it. So be ready for a bit of a workout :). I tried something new recently and I flipped the quilt minky side up while quilting it. It worked amazingly well, no drag or anything. This method, of course, only works for quilting where you don't need to see your top patchwork.

I use a 90/14 needle and my usual Guttermann thread when quilting this type of quilt. And, I lengthen my stitch to almost 4 on my Juki sewing machine (I usually have it set to 3 when quilting a regular quilt).

I've read somewhere that one should never ever iron minky. Sometimes though minky gets all wrinkly, so I tried setting my iron on nylon setting and press gently on minky's wrong side. I'm happy to say it worked well and all the creases were smoothed out. I wouldn't recommend you do it on embossed or dimpled minky though.


Well, I guess that's it for now. I hope you will give minky a try next time you want to make a super soft and snugly quilt. You won't be disappointed.

Wishing you all a fantastic week. Svetlana

16 comments:

  1. I enjoy all your postings but this one is especially appreciated! I have been looking longingly at minky as a quilt backing but was afraid it would be creepy-crawly to work with. I will be buying some soon for my next quilt!

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  2. Thanks for all the tips. I've used minky once or twice and even though the finish was so snuggly and warm I must admit I did not enjoy sewing with it at all. I think however that my main mistake was doing multi directional sewing when I was quilting. When sewing in the direction of the nap it did go through my machine wonderfully but the rest of the time was so difficult it put me off. I think next time I try it I will stick to your suggestion of a simple quilting design, or even one that can be sewn with the minky side up.

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  3. Super, Svetlanko! Dekuji za vsechny rady, urcite rada vyzkousim :) Pa a krasne dny! Jola

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  4. Haha, great timing, I was just googling this yesterday! Thanks for all the tips, I especially love getting details like needle size, thread type, and stitch length.

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  5. Thanks for a very interesting post. I havent used minky on any quilt yet but have thought about using fleece fabric. I will most likely try minky first though after reading this. Thanks again for sharing. Take care.

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  6. I've made numerous quilts with Minky and never had any problems. I've mostly done straight line quilting with my walking foot, but haven't had troubles with drag either. I do have to say that the one time I used a Joanne's product I didn't find the quality of the fabric as nice. yes, it was cheaper, but in the grand scheme of things I've preferred other manufacturers.

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  7. Thank you for the tips, Svetlana!!

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  8. Many thanks for the tutorial! I found it very useful. I think using the glue spray is the only right way to work with minky. Unfortunately I have no glue spray but as I see I should have one necessarily. Pins didn't work to me.

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  9. I've used minky a number of times (but still learnt a few things from your very helpful post). I've only ever used pins and had no problems. I have found that because minky is so slippery it seems to glide across my table as I'm quilting so drag is much less than the weight would suggest.

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  10. I always look forward to your posts and this was no exception. Now I will try the Minky, even though it scares me! I see that you sew on a Juki - maybe it's also time for me to learn how to use mine! You talk about using guterman thread with your Juki - have you tried aurifil? Thanks for the great tips.

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  11. I've recently used Minky twice to back quilts on my longarm. It took a bit of finagling, but I figured it out! You have to attach the stretchy ends to the leaders and the selvages on the sides, otherwise it will stretch too much as you make the sandwich taut and you will end up with a scrunched quilt top. I really liked how they turned out and will use it some more for kids quilts & such.

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  12. Thank you! I've wondered but never asked. Now I'm going to try it.

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  13. I've used minky a few times as backing on baby quilts. Typically I have a panel or just a large piece of a cute print for the top. I don't ever use batting in these quilts. I especially like to use the minky with the bumpy "dots". I quilt it with the minky up and sew a line, using my walking foot, on the diagonal between every fourth dot, both ways. If that makes sense. It's easy to use the dots as your guide. Then bind it and done. I do wash my quilting cotton or flannel before starting the project as I have had shrinkage of the cotton after washing the finished quilt - which made for a not so pretty finish.

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  14. Thanks so much for this post! I am making a quilt for my grandson and he is over the moon excited about having a "snuggly on the back". I've never use minke for a backing so am a bit apprehensive. These tips will help mightily!

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  15. I haven't had to seam a backing yet with Minky but the next quilt I'll use it on is 60" finished so I might have to! I saw a presentation on long arming once and the woman's advice I will never forget. When you put Minky in the frame it needs to be stretchy horizontally. If you put it on with the stretch going vertically it will be way stretched out while quilting and then be a mess when you take it off the frame. Awesome advice because I never even would have given a thought to putting it on a certain direction!

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  16. Great post, Thanks! I've used Minky for backs a few times on my long arm and they always come out wonderful. Except one little problem... when using a patterned or darker Minky with a lighter top, the needle will bring some of the dark fuzz up to the top of the quilt. It didn't seem like a tension issue. Have you ever encountered that?

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