Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Minky & Me

Has anyone out there worked with minky before?  I hadn’t until 4 months ago…so why am I just getting around to posting about it?  Because I JUST finished the project.  I wish at this point I could at least say that it was a complex pattern I was making, but the truth is it was just a simple old baby blanket. Four straight seams and your done!
So the tale begins 4 months ago on Labor Day weekend, I was with my sister and mother fabric shopping.  We happened upon a fabric store devoted entirely to minky.
I saw this brown minky with paisley cut into it and could NOT leave the store without it, and a red with white dot print was its perfect compliment.  I had a friend that was due the following weekend and I knew these were the nursery colors she had picked out.
When I got home my sights were set high for this blanket.  I didn't want to make it too easy on myself, I wanted to jazz it up by embroidering Little Misses Name on it – I took a lot of pictures during this process…with the idea that I would blog a how to…
After several failed attempts on my own with both machine (with my normal sewing machine) and by hand I decided to seek help from the online sewing community.  What I found were several warnings to not even attempt embroidering on minky…and after several frustrating days, I would advise the same thing.
Even after all the issues I had, I still attempted the embroidery a couple more times unwilling to let the idea go.  After several more failed attempts I finally gave up and took some weeks away from the frustrating project.  When I came back to it I moved on to sewing the blanket itself.
I found the material impossible to sew to itself.  The stretch and the ply of the minky made it difficult at best to sew together without puckering and pulling.  Again I went online to look for answers.  I couldn’t find any tips for sewing minky to minky – it seemed that everyone was sewing minky to cotton.  And after my attempts to sew the minky to itself I can understand why there weren’t more people doing it.  So I was left to forge the path.
The best solution I came up with at that time, was to place heavy books (yes that is Taxation in Colonial America) on the material and run it down to smooth out the fabric along the way.  It worked better, but it still wasn’t good enough, there was still some sticking, stretching, and misalignment.  Additionally, the fabric wasn't cut precisely, so the pieces didn't line up perfectly.  I decided to us the white dots as my line and I cut all sides to straight lines.  Warning cutting minky will leave a mess at your work station.  Fabric.com's blog accurately refers to it as a "cloud of fuzz." After I got the pieces to the same size, lining up was much easier, but I was still having puckering and pulling issues.  I was ready to give up FOREVER – my sister convinced me to just step away from it for a while. So I took a few more weeks away from the project.
The next time I came back to it, was after a consultation with my sister (and brother-in-law) and we (he) came up with a possible solution.  To sew them wrong sides together.  It would leave the seams unfinished and in need of a finishing, but with the smooth sides together the friction that had been causing the sticking and pulling would be eliminated. 
I laid the first piece completely out on my dinning room floor (hard wood – smooth surface.)  Then place the second piece directly on top of that one.  I was now in a large enough room and space that I could move around the compete piece of fabric and pin it without moving the material around.  That ability and the fact that the wrong sides together were smooth and not “sticky” like the right sides, allowed me to get the whole thing pinned and ready to sew. And boy did I pin.  I pinned around the whole thing, to make sure there was NO shifting this time. Doing it that way, required every single pin that I own.
I also decided to use a zigzag stich, because of the  stretch of the material.  And it WORKED!  Finally things were looking up.  I had a baby blanket albeit with unfinished edges, but the two pieces of minky were together - and straight and not puckering or pulling!
I decided to finish the blanket with blanket binding and located and pinned a tutorial on blanket binding.  I have never worked with binding before, and even though I would highly recommend the above tutorial I had my own issues with tension, stitch length, and even pinning the satin binding.  I had to rip out my stiches more than I would like to admitt.  So (you guessed it)  I walked away from the project for a few more weeks.
Then came the holidays…I got some quilting pins – much better leverage for the satin binding pinning process.
As you can see I went a little pin crazy at this step too…I didn’t want to mess things up again.
I was enjoying the binding process, the tutorial really is a good one. Cornering was fun, the straightaways we going quickly.  Everything was going smoothly...as my husband would say - almost TOO smoothly! (he is a realist)
In the last 12 inches I had to sew on to complete the blanket - I ran out of thread…broke a needle…and some how pinned it so poorly that I didn't catch the back side of the binding with the stiches.  I had to step away from the project for an hour.  But the closeness of the completion of this looming project (and the fact that baby girl is now 4 months old) gave me a new motivation to get the blanket done. So I found some close to the same color thread, switched in my last spare needle and got back to work. 
And then I finish it!
Ding dong the blanket’s done! And I couldn't be more releaved.
The moral of this story – stay away from minky!

1 comment:

  1. Hooray for a finished project!! It looks very nice. I bet baby girl will appreciate it now more than she would have 4 months ago anyway! :)