How to sew with minky or minkee (but not minke)

So you want to sew a minky blanket?

You’re in luck – I’m back, fresh from wranglin’ the minky.

cute lil minke whale
 Minke Whale. The quilting world’s shameful secret: where minky really comes from.

Jokes, jokes. I mean this stuff (the brown dotted one):

Soft, cuddly minky - perfect for baby blankets

Minky is a synthetic fabric that is super soft, snuggly and damn slippery. You can find a fine selection of it here on Amazon* or over here on Etsy*.

If you’re interested in sewing your own minky blanket there are some sewing tips you need to know. (Minky’s especially nice for baby blankets but honestly, why should babies have all the fun? I’d love to snuggle up on the couch under one of these myself.)

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, let me say that this minky blanket consisted of cotton quilting fabric on one side and the minky on the other. I did not use any batting or wadding, which is why I’m calling it a minky blanket, not a quilt.

Of course you could use batting if you like – it would make for a more substantial item. But I felt it would take away from the drape and snuggliness of the blankie, which is why I didn’t. However I feel if you used batting it would probably be easier to quilt/sew as the batting would help grip the minky better than the quilting cotton did.

Tips for Sewing with Minky Fabric

Once you’re ready to sew, you might benefit from these tips I gleaned from my experience. You’re probably thinking, boy this sounds more trouble than it’s worth, but honestly, it went really quickly and hassle-free following these points.

1. I washed and low-heat tumble dried all materials to take shrinkage out of the equation.
2. I pinned super thoroughly.

How to baste a minky blanket - use lots of pins to secure and prevent slippage

Pin overkill? Yeah, possibly. But that sucker wasn’t going anywhere.

3. I went for a larger needle, the largest I had was a 90.
4. I lengthened my stitch to 4.
5. I found I had to reduce my upper thread tension (refer to your sewing machine instruction book for how to do this).
6. Put your walking foot on.
7. Sew with the minky side down, so your feed dogs can get a good grip on it.
8. Be prepared for a mess when you trim the minky; it kinda snows on you!

I quilted the two layers with simple straight lines diagonally across the minky blanket, 5 inches apart. I didn’t want dense quilting as I wanted lots of snuggly drape.

When I was done I sewed all around the edges, as close to the edge as I could, to help prevent slippage when I came to sew on the binding.

Sewing a Binding on a Minky Blanket

For once I thought ahead with regards to the binding and decided to sew it onto the minky side, so that when hand binding I would be sewing into the cotton side. I didn’t fancy hand sewing the binding to the minky.

Again, I would recommend lots of pins.

Pinning a binding on a minky backed quilt

I had to unpick two of these sides when I was done as I found the binding had slipped over the edge of the minky. Just the action of pulling out the pins slid the binding over the edge. It really is slippery!

My next attempt included pinning like this:

A double row of pins to ensure the binding doesn't slip on this minky blanket

The perpendicular pins keep it all together and make sure your binding doesn’t pucker. The parallel pins (set far enough away not to interfere with your walking foot) will stop the binding from sliding as you pull out your perpendicular pins. Whew, complicated. But worth the extra effort.

Another option would be to pin your binding a quarter inch back from the edge of the quilt (rather than flush with the edge as I have) and trim the minky back afterwards. Then it won’t matter so much if it slides (within reason).

I like to iron my binding open before I hand finish – if you do too, make sure your iron is set for polyester and not cotton or you might melt your minky (melt your minky – there’s a joke there somewhere).

A bit of hand sewing and I’ll be done.
binding clipped and ready for hand sewing
The reason I’d been dreading sewing this is I’ve been having some troubles with my machine. Her tension is causing me tension and I must admit I am about done with her. As soon as I get back to Australia I am trading her in for something else.

{ETA: I did buy a new machine when I got back to Australia and it’s a quilter’s dream. I saved all my pennies and bought a Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8900 QCP* – it has an enormous throat for quilting and lots of handy little features. I love her so much!}

Hand binding a minky blanket or quilt is easy once you know how.

Now to schedule in some hand sewing time under this snuggly minky blanket.

Happy sewing, friends!

Minky Baby Blanket DIY - tips for sewing with minky when quilting

*affiliate links. Thank you if you choose to support the blog :)

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10 thoughts on “How to sew with minky or minkee (but not minke)”

  1. I’d forgotten about that movie and how brilliant Robin Williams was; yes it fit your tutorial. Thanks. I believe that Minky should be pinned,nailed, glued before trying to sew it. Your tutorial is great and it will help the next time I feel brave enough to use some of what is left in my stash. I thought everyone knew that Minky comes from the Minke Whale, good thing you reminded us because it explains so many things.

    Reply
  2. the quilt looks fantastic kirsty. thanks for the minky tips, i will give it a crack, especially now that i know that no whales were harmed in the production.

    Reply
  3. :-D! I’ve seen Good Morning Vietnam MANY times when I was a teenager and had a crush on Robin Williams (yes, I was strange …, still think he’s sexy in his hairy way, though … :-D), but I saw it in German … The German voice did a great job, also in Aladdin, but the real thing is even funnier!

    Thanks for the laughs and memories, they make the minky seem less scary!

    Reply
  4. Well you’ve completely put me off sewing with that minky stuff. I don’t like fussy stuff when I’m sewing and don’t have the same patience you obviously have. You sure look like you did a brilliant job of your quilt. I can’t believe how many quilting pins you used!!! I don’t think I have that many!

    Reply
  5. Hi Colette – they aren’t actually hairclips (and they hurt when your 4 yr old puts them in her hair). They don’t have any of the nice plastic on them (that helps them slide over hair) and they seem to be a lot sturdier. I found mine in a quilting shop and they really are great. I would always be getting stuck with pins in my lap as I sewed on binding before I got these.
    Thanks for visiting (and also for supporting the flood appeal!)

    Reply
  6. just found your blog thru the flood appeal. your auction lot is gorgeous. Also – I love the way you hold your binding down for the handsewing – hairclips! I have never seen this before, so much better than a pin, which doesn’t really hold it down. I’m going to get some for my next quilt!

    Reply
  7. I have to admit that I am a “new” (sometime last year) reader of your blog. It makes me really happy whenever I see a new post in my google reader!

    This time you have completely cracked me up! Minke Whale! :) I think I may have seen GMV too many times because I was only part way through reading that line when my mind started reading it with a “Robin Williams” tone :)
    Love it!
    thanks for some morning cheer

    Reply
  8. I have the same problem with my machine. She does this when I sew with a 4, or a 3.5 on a too thin fabric. Or when she’s not clean enough. Or when I need to change the nedle.Or just so :D

    Reply

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