It isn’t every day I walk into the post office to find someone holding up an adorable baby blanket, so when it happened a couple of weeks ago, it definitely caught my attention.
The lovely woman who made this blanket is Nola Belding. You have to see the back too. I love the swirly quilting.
It turns out, Nola has made LOTS of these little cuties and has some great advice to share about using Minky. If you haven’t used it before, it really is worth giving a try. I was terrified the first time, but my project turned out great and I was hooked.
With my thanks, take it away Nola!
* Watch out, Minky is addicting! It is so soft, I just love it! Babies and kids love it! Testimony from my gift recipients include "We need another one because he doesn't want to give it up to be washed". Another family reports about having to make 40 mile trip to get the forgotten blankee. And "I need a bigger one, because his feet stick out and he won't sleep with anything else" I've probably made over 40 Minky blankees, so yes, I am an addict.
* Minky is messy. I just give up and vacuum the whole room when I'm done. (But once it's sewn, it washes great, and doesn't pill or shed)
* Minky is slippery and stretchy. A "walking foot" is helpful, but don't be afraid to try it without one - just use more pins, especially if one of the fabrics is more stretchy than the other. (pin every few inches if needed)
* Some minky fabrics tend to roll on the edge. I usually need more than a quarter inch seam when sewing with minky. The walking foot helps to flatten out the roll, and I usually just line up the seam with the edge of the walking foot. (probably less than 1/2 inch)
* Minky is substantial enough - so it is usually better NOT to use a batting. For that reason, you can quilt it a little or even not at all. Sometimes I just take two pretty Minky fabrics, pin and sew them right sides together leaving a small opening. Turn and you're almost done. I like to hand stitch the opening and then sew about 1 inch from the edge for a nice finish. SOOO Easy! And sometimes I just put the minky on the back and a pieced quilt on the front.
* Minky comes in different qualities. I suggest buying it in person or buying a brand name (for example Cuddle is ok to buy online). JoAnn's (Regular price $13 to $15/yard) often has Soft and Comfy on sale for 40% off, or you can use a coupon for 50% one cut of fabric. The JoAnn's Soft & Comfy is stretchier and not a plush as Cuddle, but often quite a bit less expensive. The regular prices on the good quality minky fabrics are sometimes almost $20/yard, but with coupons or sales, I can usually get it for much less. I like to go look at (and touch!) the fabrics in the stores, and then if I recognize that print/brand later online, it should be the same quality. (The problem I had was with Minky dot fabric - hard to tell the quality online).
* Minky comes in 60 inch widths. So you can make two small blankees with one yard each of two different colors (could finish to about 28 x 34) or maybe get 1 1/4 yard of the each color to make a bigger blankee. (could finish to 43 x 58)
Tips for the flower blankee:
* For the flower petals and leaves, draw shapes on muslin or other lightweight fabric. Cut out loosely around shapes (Not right on lines). Pin to minky ( a bigger piece than the back because it shifts so easy) with right sides together. Stitch on lines around petal, leaving opening at small end. Trim and turn right sides out. Repeat for all petals and leaves. (Or can make a Template and cut several layers at once if you have several shapes the same remembering to allow for seam allowance.)
* For center circles, stitch all the way around. Trim and clip seam so that it is smoother when turned right side out. Then cut a hole in middle of backing big enough to turn right side out.
* For stem, fold long strip of fabric in half lengthwise. Find a shoestring or any other strong string that is longer than the stem. Place string inside fold so it shows a little on both ends. Sew across one end and also across shoestring, turn corner and sew along raw edges but not catching string (tucked inside). Leave other end open with string hanging out. Then pull on shoestring and it will turn right side out. Undo or cut off piece sewn into other end.
* Cut backing a few inches larger than front. Put wrong sides together centering on back. Fold back one side at a time and spray '505'* in between to baste together the two layers. This helps stabilize the minky so that it acts more like a regular fabric. (* or other spray basting following directions about ventilation and overspray).
* Pin stems, leaves and flower petals to front. Sew through all layers on edges of petals, leaves and stems. (Tuck ends of leaves under stems before sewing stems) Leave circles off and hand sew after all other machine applique is done to cover raw edges of flower petals. If the backing fabric (muslin) peeks out, try to tuck it under while sewing the edges of the petals. Or pre-sew a tuck in the backing of the petals and leaves to deal with some of the extra fabric.
* If there is enough fabric from the backing to fold (twice) and turn to front for binding, that is what I usually do. I cut off a diagonal piece on each corner to help with the mitered corners.
* OR cut all edges even and bind as usual for a quilt with a contrasting color of binding.
* After binding is done, then add additional quilting, if desired. (It helps to use large simple designs and to stay away from edges) (Free-motion foot is helpful for designs like hearts, stars or swirls.) Sometimes I even quilt in the baby's name.
* When finished wash to remove basting spray.
Good luck and have fun! Remember that minky is wonderful even if it is not sewn perfect.
Nola Belding, Sisters, OR
Thanks so much Nola, for sharing your blanket and your great advice!