Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Machine Quilting with Minky Fabric Backs

Another quilt with a minky back.  They are a little more difficult to do.  A couple years ago I posted a blog with information on quilting when there is minky fabric involved.  I'll repost that info in this post.  I know many machine quilters out there are nervous about doing it, but if you do a few basic things it shouldn't be too difficult.  Probably the key thing is not to do too tightly of a spaced design.  I'll post another photo of a minky quilt from the past so you can see what I mean by loosely spaced designs.

Past post:  "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.

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