Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Machine Quilting with Minky Fabric

Everybody loves Minky (also sometimes spelled Minkee) fabric. The feel is so soft and cuddly that you can't help but want to put it in a quilt. Most people I know who try to use Minky fabric do so for their quilt backing. It is luxiourous. Minky always seems perfect for the backing to a baby quilt. But what about quilting with it? It can be a nightmare for a machine quilter. Here's my experience with minky and some tips that hopefully will help you in using minky successfully.

I have treid to quilt a quilt with minky on the front (only in some areas) and also on the back of the quilt -- very difficult and I would not recommend using minky on the front. It shifts a lot and because it has quite a bit of stretch in one direction it's difficult to use in a quilt block. It's also very thick so any seams can get really bulky.

I have had customer quilts and a few of my own that have had minky for the backing. There's nothing quite like the feel of it, but it also can be a pain in the you know where to work with.

One time I put it on my longarm and had the stretch going horizontally (top to bottom). I pulled my tension tight and tighter and tighter. I used my clamps on the edges to pull it tight also. The result: when that quilt came off the machine it literally bounced back about 3 inches and the top became all puffy -- not a good result!

Another time I had minky on the back and was trying to do a more detailed pattern. It kept getting little tucks in the back.

I've tried using a basting spray -- that only messed with my tension and caused some skipped stitches.

I've found the most successful way to use minky on the back is to use a fairly loose pattern. You can cross over lines but if the quilting is spaced too tightly it will mess up the back. The clamps on the edges need to be putting just enough tension on the backing and batting to hold it in place but not to stretch it at all. Also, the stretch is best if it runs vertically not horizontally, this is because you can better control the stretch with the side clamps. If you are not working with more than 3 or 4" on the edges you will find that the minky wants to curl. So a wider backing is better and gives you more to clamp on to. The batting that works best is one that is fairly thin -- no fat batts.

This quilt pictured has a flannel top, minky back and Hobbs 80/20 batting. I didn't have more than about 2 inches on the edges. It wanted to curl especially at the bottom so I had to carefully stitch down the edges as I quilted and rolled the quilt up on the take up roller. My pattern was just double circles of different sizes. When I took it off, it has a little puffiness on the top but overall it turned out really well.


Anonymous said...

Hello - I am a fairly experienced quilter who lately deals only with smaller arsty pieces. However, my friend had a baby and I decided to make a baby quilt for her and back it with minkee. First experience machine quilting it was a disaster - lots of shifting, so I am pulling those stitches out! Do you have any tips - better to use batting or not? I was thinking of fusing it although it could make it stiffer but it looks like that did not work for you in the long arm - I am using a home sewing machine. Thanks!

Helen said...

Thank you for the info on quilting with minky on the back. I am doing a free-bee for my sister's friend that has terminal cancer and I needed to know how to quilt it so that I can get the best results. Thanks, Helen in Texas

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this posting. I have a longarm and usually do just cotton backs and some flannel. Now, all of a sudden I have 3 with minkee and I'm very scared of them. Your information has been most helpful. Thanks again,