by Christina Dennis
I love soft, cuddly blankets! My favourite combination for a blanket is to sew it using cotton on the outside and buttery soft minkee fabric on the inside. The result is a substantial, high-quality blanket that is wonderful for a baby, for a living room throw, or for a bed!
Minkee (or "minky") fabric can be very thick and slippery. It also is a pain to cut because it can be so furry - fuzz can fly everywhere! In this tutorial on how to sew a "boutique" blanket, I'll share how I work with this fabric. It's a little tricky, but the results are beautiful.
- 100% cotton quilting (or cotton twill decor, if you want a heavier blanket) fabric (enough for your blanket - see size chart below) (I used Premier Prints Twill Suzani Storm Grey)
- polyester minkee (minky) fabric (enough for your blanket - see size chart below) (I used Minky Frosted Zebra Cuddle Grey)
- a rotary cutter, mat and large ruler are helpful but not necessary
I purchased my fabric for this project from fabric.com:
|Blanket Size||Width||Length||Yards of Fabric|
|Baby (Crib)||29"||35"||1 yard each (minimum 44" wide)|
|Child||42"||47"||1 ½ yards each (minimum 44" wide)|
|Adult Afghan/Throw||48"||71"||2 yards each (minimum 54" wide)|
|Adult - Oversized Throw||55-59"||71"||2 yards each (minimum 56" wide)|
I love the last blanket size ("Adult - Oversized Throw"). It's big and cozy and the best use of 2 yards of 56 - 60" wide fabric. Minkee is usually 60" wide as is most cotton decor fabric. This is the size of the blanket pictured in this tutorial.
If you are making a smaller blanket and have a large rotary cutter and mat, put it down on a large surface (in my case, my only large surface is my floor - if you have a big cutting table you are soooo lucky!). If you are making a larger blanket and/or don't have a rotary cutter and large mat, skip this step. Lay your minkee fabric down first - with the smooth side down and the fuzzy (right) side facing up.
Lay your cotton fabric on top of the minkee, with its right side down and its wrong side up. Smooth the cotton over the minkee with your hands to get ride of wrinkles and to line them up at the fabric salvages and cut edges.
I like to cut both fabrics to size when they are laid out together so no trimming is necessary later to make them match! If you are making one of the three smaller sizes of blankets, you will need to measure and trim off one side of your fabrics to produce the correct width. Make sure to add 1 INCH to the measurements in the chart above to account for a ½" seam allowance! Use either a large ruler and fabric marker and measure evenly from the edge.
I find the trick for large pieces like blankets and curtains is to make sure your measurements are even and all of your lines are absolutely straight! You shouldn't have to cut the ends (tops and bottoms) of the fabrics unless you are making the "Child" size or unless your fabric has been cut unevenly (tip: ask the person cutting your fabric to cut it straight so that you can avoid having to do this yourself later)!
Minkee can be VERY messy when cut. Shake your newly cut pieces outside, or have a dust buster on hand!
Here's my biggest tip for this project (and for working with minkee in general): pin, pin, pin, pin, pin! I used to hate pinning, thinking it was a waste of time, but the more pins you use the better the blanket will turn out and it will save you a lot of seam-ripping later! Pin the pieces together, all the way around, in at LEAST 4 inch increments. Minkee is very slippery and stretch across the grain, so pinning will prevent puckering and/or stretching of the fabric.
Now you will be machine sewing the pieces together all the way around. This is a great project if this is your first time working with minkee because you will be sewing from the cotton fabric side which slides along nicely underneath a presser-foot. Start sewing in the middle of one side and leave a ½" seam allowance.
Keep your fabrics taught with your free hand as you sew, making sure they don't pucker between the pins. If you've pinned enough, this should be pretty straight forward. If you are sewing a large blanket, you may want to have a chair or small card table beside you to hold the weight of the blanket as you sew (a tip from my talented sewing mother).
Don't sew all the way to where you started - leave at least a 6" hole that will be used to pull your blanket right-side-out. Trim the corners of your blanket at an angle (this produces a nice square, crisp corner when the blanket is turned out).
Turn the blanket right-side-out by pulling it through the hole you left. Poke the corners out with a knitting needle or scissors to create nice square corners. Pin the opening shut by first turning in your cotton and minkee fabrics ½" to the inside, then pinning.
Top-stitch the blanket all the way around, approximately ¼" from the edge (again, you have your cotton fabric facing up so it's easier to sew). This sews the opening shut and also keeps the top layer from bunching over the bottom layer. With this blanket I only did one row of top-stitching, but I've also made blankets that I've top-stitched a second time 2" from the edge for a little more stability/detail. You could even try a zig-zag instead of a regular stitch for some added detail and charm!
Christina Dennis is the creator and designer behind Golly Gee Baby, a collection of unique and colourful baby clothing and accessories that are ethically manufactured.