Friday, January 21, 2011

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

I'm back, fresh from wranglin' the minky.

 Minke Whale. The quilting world's shameful secret: where minky really comes from.

Jokes, jokes. I mean this stuff:


Soft and damn slippery. That's nice if you're with a lady, but it ain't no good if you're in the sewing room.*

I know a few of you were interested to hear how I got along, so here's how it went.

I must firstly send out endless thanks to the magical interwebs which gave me plenty of advice.

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

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
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 back; it kinda snows on you

And then off I went. I was surprised it went well, for reasons I will further outline below.

I quilted simple straight lines on the diagonal, 5 inches apart. When I was done I sewed all around the edges, as close as I could, to help prevent slippage when I came to sew on the binding.

For once I thought ahead with regards to the binding and decided to sew it onto the minky side, so that when hand finishing 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.

Not enough pins

I had to unpick two of these sides when I was done as I found the binding had slipped and ended up too close to the edge for my liking. Just the action of pulling out the pins slid the binding over the minky.

My hint would be to pin like this:


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 towards the middle (rather than flush with the edge as I have) and trim 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 (there's a joke there somewhere. It will come to me.)

A bit of hand sewing and I'll be done.


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.

Despite constant fiddling with the tension dial, changing needles, upsizing needles, changing threads, I still get this quite frequently:


See that rogue looped stitch. I could figure out what to do if they were all like that, but just one in every line is starting to really annoy me. I have lost count of how many quilting lines I have unpicked this year.

End whinge.

Hey, have you heard that Make It Perfect's auction for the Premier's Disaster Relief Fund has hit $45,000? How awesome is that! Thank you so much to everyone who's had a part in it. Just goes to show, if we all do a little bit it can make a big difference.


Now to schedule in some hand sewing time.

* If you haven't seen Good Morning Vietnam this will be lost on you.

Try around the 1:40 mark.


  1. The quilts looks amazing! Great job! You deserve a new machine!

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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!

  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!)

  6. 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!

  7. :-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!

  8. 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.

  9. OMG, you crack me up! I had never heard that line before. Very nicely written into the post! Are you coming back to Australia for good, or just for a holiday?


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...