Hi, my name is Ruth and this is my blog to show & share my quilts that I give to family & friends.
Simple designs that may inspire you to make one too.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Big Sky Simple Square Quilt (#93)

Some fabrics look really nice cut up into simple squares.  Big Sky by Annie Brady for Moda is one of these collections.
Cute bears, woodland creatures and a variety of colorful foliage harmonize in forest greens and browns.
I started out with a few layer cakes ... steamed ironed & starched.  I knew they would shrink so all squares were cut  4.5" x 4.5".  
15 squares across by 18 rows down plus small borders on all sides makes this a perfect minky quilt at 60" x 72".
I am really liking the same color fabric for the small borders and  the binding.  Usually I 'frame' the quilt with a different colored binding - but after seeing this I will do the melding look again. 
Aurifil 50wt. thread in simple straight lines on either side of the seams makes a nice square pattern.  
To read about this minky's quilt journey from start to finish there are 7 blog posts under "How to Make a Minky Quilt" here.
Got the wooden box, the S'mores - just need a cuddly bear - and it's off to auction we go. This will be my third quilt to be donated for the Immaculate Heart Morther/Daughter Luncehon - the alma mater for both me & my daughter. So, from the Class of '75 & 2017 - this sweet quilt is made just for you.

Big Sky by Annie Brady / Moda
Warm & White batting
Dimple dot minky - brown
Aurifil 50wt. #2360 (brown) & #2314
Size: 60" x 72"
February 2018

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How to Make a Minky Quilt Part 1 - The Top

Minky quilts have their challenges but nothing that is too hard to handle.  This starts a series of posts on how I make a minky quilt. I quilt on a home machine with a walking foot and these blankets are made to be machine washed & dried for daily use. 
The following thoughts & tips are my own - but as in all things, you must do what is right for you.
Basically the bottom line for any quilt is to have a nice flat quilt top before you start assembly of your quilt sandwich. 
This includes the front and the back.
What I do: 
* Pre-wash fat quarters or fabric yardage  
* Do not wash pre-cuts
* Use lots of canned spray starch
* Iron, iron & iron
* Press seams open
* Trim all loose threads - front & back
* Use a #12 needle for regular quilting cotton and a
  #10 needle for batiks 
* Stitch length is 1.5  in a scant 1/4" seam

* Using steam to iron and starch will shrink your unwashed fabric.  Use your judgement on this point if you need every inch for a specific pattern or design.  Ironing at every stage is still necessary.
* If you stitch in the ditch - do not press seams open. 

All posts are linked at the top of the blog under 'How To Make a Minky Quilt" - or scroll down to read Part 2 - The Table.

Monday, January 29, 2018

How To Make a Minky Quilt Part 2 - The Table

My minky quilt sandwich is: minky on the back, Warm & White batting and a cotton top. I have used flannel and muslin with minky as well - it just depends on how heavy you want your quilt to be. Since the size of my minky quilts never goes beyond a lap at 60" x 73" - its a good weight for snuggling and washes & dries nicely in large load machines. 

I use to layout all my quilts on the carpet floor in my garage - which is my sewing area.  I made a portable layout table a few months ago and it's great.  Bottom line - whether you assemble on the floor or a table - the sequence is the same.  First ... the table.
The layout table is:  two banquet tables on risers. Standard tables from a super store - 30" x 71".
The bed risers are 5" from Amazon and run about $17.

Up next are 3 pieces of sanded/finished plywood that have been cut to 24" x 82".  They are 1/2" deep.  The panels started out at the hardware store at 8' x 4' and were cut to size.  This means they are pretty narrow to stack and lay against a wall in the garage when not in use.

These 3 plywood pieces go on top of the banquet tables - and are taped together with blue wide painters tape.

You do use quite a bit of painters tape for minky quilt layouts but that's what stops the minky from slipping & sliding!
Cut your batting to the size you need.
 Now would be a good time to shake the minky OUTSIDE to remove any stray fluffy bits - even a few mins in the dryer on low will do to reduce shedding!
Clear the table and spread out the minky. 
The total table area is 72" x 82" - perfect for a minky quilt that is no more than 60" wide.  60" is the standard width of minky.   
All posts are linked at the top of the blog under 'How To Make a Minky Quilt" or scroll down to read Part 3 - The Layout.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

How To Make a Minky Quilt Part 3 - The Layout

The Layout

Now it's time to lay that minky flat, whether it's on a table, the floor or carpet.  You really can't stretch it because it just bounces back to its original size.  With wide blue painters tape - tape all sides to the table or floor.
You want to 'grab' about 1/2" of minky with the tape and neatness does not count.  If your quilt top is 57" to 58" wide - that's about perfect to fit on the minky.

For a quilt 58" x 73/74" - I get 2.5 yards of minky.  There is a little left over but sometimes the minky cuts drift and its better to be safe than sorry.  I purchase my minky from two sources:  Hawthorne Threads & Fabric.com and mostly get the 'dimple dot' variety.

Time to assemble the quilt.  I use any type of basting spray - June Tailor from JoAnn's is always a good deal when they have a sale.  I find that quilter's pins are just not sharp enough to easily go through cotton/batting/minky - personal choice.  

There are many tutorials on how to spray baste and not have a total mess on your floor or carpet. I admit I had some spray marks on my garage floor carpet - not what you want in your home.  Do what works for your area. If you are spraying outside or on a wooden/laminate floor - protect the surrounding areas and use knee pads - they really help.

What is important is to layout your layers and flatten them well before you start to spray.  I smooth the batting really well - pull half of it back ... spray and use my hands in a sweeping motion to flatten from the middle to the outer ends. Doing it by yourself means moving from one side of the table to the other - or have a helper on the other side and work in tandem.

Same with the quilt top - lay it on the batting - smooth it out nicely - peel it back half way, spray and flatten.  Always do this in a well ventilated area.

 I can't emphasize how important it is to have all the layers flat and positioned before you spray. Once that spray is on it is hard to wiggle the quilt in any direction.  You want to know everything fits before you squish it all together!  Lastly, remove the blue painters tape and you are ready to trim.  

All posts are linked at the top of the blog under 'How To Make a Minky Quilt" - or scroll down to read Part 4 - Cutting & Timming.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

How To Make a Minky Quilt Part 4 - Cutting & Trimming

How to trim before quilting. 
Meet your new best friend - the vacuum cleaner hose. There is no way around it, you have to vacuum often. I don't use any attachment, just the hose to get the best suction.  
Cutting with scissors creates an uneven edge and will result in more shedding.  Using a sharp rotary blade is the best option.  Rotary trim about 20 inches at a time.  Trim all the excess batting and minky about 1/2" from the edge. 
Cut that 20 inch strip of excess minky & batting that is hanging with a pair of scissors.  Put it quickly in a handy trash can - and then VACUUM the side of the quilt and the mat.  The goal here is to minimize how much fluff gets over the quilt & you. Repeat this sequence for all four sides of your quilt. Short cut & vacuum ... short cut & vacuum.  
 To remove any stubborn minky on your mat after you have trimmed the quilt sandwich - the green scrubbing side of a dry clean kitchen sponge works well.  It really sounds worse than it is - yes, there is fluff but it's not horrible. The end result is totally worth it ... just vacuum as you go.
Why trim?  Well, it minimizes large areas of sticky sprayed batting getting in your way when you quilt. It keeps edges tidy and tight.  Maybe some of the minky wasn't sprayed as well on the edges: it could flop around and separate due to its weight.  Spray basting isn't like cement - you can peel it apart with gentle force.

All posts are linked at the top of the blog under "How To Make a Minky Quilt" or scroll down to read Part 5 - How to Quilt on Minky.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

How to Make a Minky Quilt Part 5 - Quilting

Most important when quilting on minky: a walking foot and a new #14 needle.  At every bobbin change - just check that your needle is free of any spray baste that may have some fibers stuck to it.

Here is my fancy set up.  Two children's tables with a larger piece of white laminate that is not attached.  It is important to have a side table next to your machine - minky is heavy and can be a 'drag' when compared to an all cotton quilt. 
Just quilt an arm's length at a time - re-adjust and pull the quilt up some more and continue. You can also use your left arm to help the quilt along by gently pulling on the back.
I have no experience with free motion - my minky quilts are either straight stitched or with a wavy line.  Using a larger stitch is good - above is an example of a 3.0.
I use Aurifil #50 for both piecing and quilting. I go medium speed and not race like a manic when quilting - it's a walking foot... not a running foot!
Here are some examples of wavy stitches following the seams - always a winner.
Some minky's like to try and make an appearance on the quilt top.  Below you can see a hint of red minky fluff trying to surface on the white Kona.  I know no way to stop that.  But for me, that slight show through is not enough to stop using minky.
Another concern can be uneven thread tension resulting in minor show through of the bottom bobbin thread onto the quilt top.  Good news is that since minky is usually 3mm thick, the bottom thread pretty much sinks & disappears. You don't need to coordinate bottom thread color to minky color.  Dark minky and light quilt tops can work with a light thread color throughout.
This quilt has a beautiful chocolate brown back but I used the same thread for both the top & bottom.  It looks good from every side!

Lastly - before you start to quilt - use some spare minky to test out quilting tension and stitch size.  And don't forget to clean your bobbin area (lift out the bobbin casing and remove fluff) with each new bobbin. You don't need any more fluff!

All posts are linked at the top of the blog under 'How To Make a Minky Quilt" - or scroll down to read Part 6 - How to Bind a Minky Quilt.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

How to Make a Minky Quilt - Part 6 - Binding

Everyone has their favorite way to bind a quilt - I am a machine binder all the way.  I also do it 'backwards' from the traditional method.  
Binding is cut 2.5" wide.  Lay your binding strip on the back of the quilt - the minky side.  I use the tutorial from the Fat Quarter Shop here  which includes tips like a  10" tail and a 12" gap for the binding tool (which I also use).
Sew a scant 1/4" seam and use a walking foot.
Because the minky and all the layers are rather bulky - I go slowly with no pins and a hand's width at a time. Adjust the binding to the quilt edge - and continue with another hand's width.
This is what the back of your quilt will look like.
The reason why I sew the binding first on the back:  when I iron to make sure the binding is flat before it's folded over onto the top - the iron only needs to touch the edge of the minky, if at all.  Minky is polyester and will melt under a hot iron, so minimizing the amount of iron contact is a win/win. 
After I have folded the binding to the front - it's ironed a lot! I am now able to put the whole iron on the front of the cotton top.  Getting a nice straight line after pulling the binding over the bulk of the batting and minky is easier.  Any tugging or flattening can be done without risk of melting.
Mitered corners can be tugged into shape if need be and ironed to a nice point.  
This is the binding from the back side.  It looks great but I am happy being able to iron the heck out of the front at the expense of doing things 'backwards' from traditional methods.
Lastly, sew close to the edge on the front and your binding is complete.

All posts are linked at the top of the blog under "How to Make a Minky Quilt" - or scroll down to read the last post - Part 7 - How to wash your quilt.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

How to Make a Minky Quilt - Part 7 - Washing

Since my quilts are for daily use - it's important that they stand up to the rigors of machine washing. A large front load washer is what I have and it works out nicely.  I usually wash a quilt before it is gifted 3 times to get it soft, clean and remove any lingering spray baste.
Warm water and a medium spin cycle is what I recommend for front loaders.  For top load machines which can really agitate, I would go with a gentle or permanent press cycle.  Bottom line:  you just don't want your machine to chew up the quilt on the spin cycle. 

Also good are Shout Color Catchers put in the back of the front load washer each time you wash. I always use two on the first wash to see how much color bleeds.  I couldn't believe how much came from this bear quilt. 
The last thing to do is dry the quilt.  Medium temperature is fine along with some tennis balls to make sure your quilt fluffs & rotates in the dryer.  I use tennis balls with all my laundry - and while they do thump and make a noise (which you might actually begin to enjoy) - your clothes and quilt will dry faster. 
Last words:  
Try making a small minky quilt to start.  See how your machine works, what threads work for you, and even if you like the whole process.  Use up some scraps and give it a chance.  It's very doable and if you have any questions - feel free to contact me.  Ruth :)
All posts are linked at the top of the blog under "How To Make a Minky Quilt"

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tula Pink Chipper Quilt (#92)

Tula Pink has a legion of fans ... I am one of them. 
This quilt is a combo of Chipper fabric leftovers from 2016 (here) and dark grey accents in Manatee by Free Spirit. What a different look sashing color can make.
The Chipper pieces were slightly different lengths due to the fact they were 'scraps".  That worked out well for this brick pattern and made everything look random and staggered.  It also made it easy to trim a row on either side when it was too long!
Most importantly was making sure the 'bricks' were cut a consistent 4.5" wide.
 On every piece of Chipper fabric I sewed a 1.5" wide piece of Manatee on the right side. If the fabric was non-directional it wouldn't matter what side you sewed on.  But, since I wanted the animals not be upside down, it was easier to pick a side and stick to it! 
 Each row was laid out one at a time. Manatee sashing between rows was also cut at 1.5" wide.
 Enter my favorite thread Aurifil 50wt. and a #14 needle.   #5004 Grey on the Manatee strips and in the bottom bobbin throughout.  And a pretty #2835 Aqua through the 'bricks" from the Tula Pink / Chipper collection - perfect!

I usually quilt in a simple grid pattern which works well on a minky & batting quilt.  But this time I did only horizontal lines ... super fun! It was easy, surprisingly fast and very effective. 

A great color matching minky from Hawthorne Threads in "Ink" ... who doesn't love soft & fluffy?
A wide border of Manatee cut at 7" wide for the top and bottom frames all the bright colors and the binding in purple Cotton Couture matched perfectly.  This quilt is leaving with my daughter to gift to a new friend ... Chipper is going to college!
Chipper / Tula Pink
Manatee / Free Spirit
Binding: Cotton Couture Purple / Michael Miller
Aurifil 50wt. thread #2835 & #5004
Warm & White batting
Dimple dot minky in Ink / Hawthorne Threads
#tulapinkchipper, #chipperfabric, #aurifil
Size: 61" x 73"
Date: January 2018