Makings of a Patchwork Minky Blanket - Part Two, Assembly and Finishing
Making a patchwork minky blanket is a great beginner project if you'd like to get into quilt making, or are looking for a great gift for a new baby. In part one of the series, we discussed how to go about choosing fabrics. Here in part two, you will learn all of the fabric requirements, as well as how to piece and finish these popular blankets with a turned minky edged. Let's get started assembling your blanket!
After you have chosen all of your fabrics, you'll need to make sure you have enough to complete the project. For my minky quilts, I cut each square to 5 1/2 inches, and lay the squares out in 8 columns and 11 rows, for a total of 88 squares. This makes the finished blanket dimensions 40in by 55in, a nice, large size easy enough to carry along with a baby and have in their crib, as well as a great size for a child to grow into. My purpose here is to make a long-lasting blanket with the potential for a well-loved life and therefore, I go with a small throw size in the hopes that a child would use the blanket well beyond the baby years.
Now it's time to do a bit of math before you head off to the shops or rummage through your fabric stash. I have included the chart below so you can gather all of the appropriate cuts of fabric. (WOF means "width of fabric.")
|eight prints||1/2yd, cut into 5 1/2in by WOF, subcut into 5 1/2in squares|
|10-11 prints||1/4yd, cut into 5 1/2in by WOF, subcut into 5 1/2in squares|
|charm packs||at least 2, 5in squares (source it here: Fat Quarter Shop)|
|Minky fabric||1 1/4yd (source it here: Hawthorne Supply)|
If you choose to do more than 8 fabrics, you can get away with a smaller amount of any single fabric, as you will stagger the squares more often throughout the quilt. If you choose to go with charm square pre-cuts, you will have to adjust the quantity and dimensions of the blanket to fit that cut. The more types of fabrics you work with, the scrappier your quilt will appear, so have a play with the look and style you prefer.
|thread and coordinating bobbin|
|scissors, rotary cutter and cutting mat|
|straight pins, safety pins and wonder clips|
|walking foot for your machine|
|packing tape or similar|
Though the walking foot is optional, it will definitely help when working with the think minky fabric. The walking foot helps pull the fabric through the machine without stretching and warping either layer of fabric which will help your blanket finish without puckering and save you lots of cursing.
If you have selected your fabrics from the bolt or your stash, give them a good press, lining up the selvages and trimming the edges to a crisp straight line. Sub cut all of your fabrics into 5 1/2 in squares. You should have at least eleven of each square, so one fabric can go in each row as we work our way down the blanket.
On a large, flat surface (I work on my studio floor), begin laying out the squares 8 across and 11 down. For the first row, I place the feature print toward the center in either the fourth or fifth spot and stagger any secondary feature prints across the row. Fill in the final positions of the row with your supporting prints. As you move across the rows and down the columns, stagger the prints in a rough diagonal across the grid so none of the prints appear in the same column. When you reach the half-way mark of the rows, about row six, you can start to work the prints back across some of the same columns. Keep thinking about "skipping" the prints across the quilt top. You do not want a heavy saturation of any one print, color, or tonal value to dominate any area too much. Once you lay out all of the fabrics in 8 columns of 11 rows, stand back and take a look at how the patterns and colors are spaced and make any adjustments as necessary to keep that "skipping" effect.
After you have the rows all laid out, gather them up in couples of two, one on top of the other with right sides together and take them to your sewing machine. I like to group my rows and add a number on the head block of the row so I can keep them in order as I sew. You took all of that time to lay them out perfectly, you don't want to mess up your perfect arrangement now! Sew the couples together, then sew them to their neighbors, and "sew" on down the row until you have combined them all with a 1/4in seams. Take all of the rows to your iron and press the seams flat. If you prefer to nest your seams, press opposite rows in opposite directions. I like to press all of my seams open, as I feel it reduces bulk and then I don't have to remember which way I was pressing, but either method is fine.
After you have assembled all of the rows, lay your rows one on top of the other using your number note to match them up. Again, sew right sides together using a 1/4in seam and attach the rows to each other to complete the patchwork blanket top. Take the patchwork to your iron and press your seams nice and flat for a crisp, finished look.
Now that you have your patchwork top assembled it is time to attach the minky backing and finish your blanket. To get a nice flat blanket with minimal puckers, you need to attach the backing fabric, in this case the minky, to the top with a smooth, taught connection. Take your minky fabric and lay it out on your floor with the wrong side up. Smooth the fabric across the floor and use your packing tape to secure it to the floor so it can not move while you are pinning the patchwork on top. Don't pull or stretch the fabric, just make sure it is taught, not tight. Lay your patchwork top in the center of the minky fabric with the patchwork up, wrong sides of the fabrics touching, and smooth the patchwork top across the minky working from the middle out. You should leave at least 2-3 inches of excess minky fabric hanging beyond your patchwork top as shown above. This leaves fabric around all of the edges should your patchwork top shift. We will also trim and use this excess to wrap over the patchwork to enclose the edges of the blanket.
Once your blanket is all smoothed out, pin through all of the layers with your safety pins. I like to pin every two or three blocks, staggering the placement of the pins as I work up and down the rows to get a nice distribution and hold it together across the majority of the blanket. Adding enough pins seems like a pain - and it is- but it will be worth it when you go to quilt your blanket and it doesn't shift and pucker!
Before you lift your blanket sandwich off of the floor, decide which rows you are going to sew down to secure the top to the backing. I sew my patchwork minky blankets in a wide grid, approximately two to three rows in from either side and top to bottom. You don't need to attach them at as many points as you would a normal quilt, but securing the top to the backing with a few rows of stitching makes the blanket lie flatter, look more professional and last longer, all good qualities in a handmade heirloom!
Minky fabric has a knit weave with a two way stretch, making it stretchier in one direction than the other. You will want to start sewing down the rows with the least stretch to minimize shifting of your fabrics. Give your minky a little tug in both directions to find out which way to sew first.
Detach your blanket from the floor and take it over to your sewing machine rolling up the sides as necessary to fit them comfortably through the throat space of your machine. Gently guide your blanket through the machine being careful not to stretch the fabrics. This is where the walking foot makes the job so much better, as it will help pull the fabrics through and reduce not only the amount of work for your arms, but also minimize the puckering and pulling of the fabric itself under its own weight. Sew down all of your chosen rows, beginning with the least stretchy sides, back stitching at the beginning and ending of each row until you have completed your grid.
Bring your blanket back over to the floor and lay it flat once again. Now we are going to trim off the excess minky around the outside of your patchwork top so we can wrap the edges of our blanket in it's fluffy goodness. Using your grid ruler, line the ruler up with the edge of your patchwork at the one inch mark and trim the minky fabric away so that there is one inch of minky backing all of the way around your patchwork top. Congratulations! You are now covered in lots of fuzzies and ready to complete your blanket!
To make the rolled edge of the minky blanket, we are going to use the one inch overhanging fabric. First fold the minky from the raw edge to line up with the raw edge of your minky patchwork. Next fold the minky over again until it rests a half inch on top of the patchwork, encasing those raw edges. Work in small sections and clip every 3in or so with your wonder clips to keep everything from unfolding. The wonder clips are great here since you can easily clip them and remove them as you sew. I also find they hold the thicker fabric better than regular pins and don't get lost in the fluff. You could use regular straight pins if that's all you have, but I would recommend getting the wonder clips if you plan to make several of these blankets, as they will definitely make life easier.
When you get to the corners, we are going to fold them to get a mitered corner, or a corner that has the fold at a 45◽ angle. I've broken this next step down into several bits, as folding the corners and getting that perfect mitered fold is a bit tricky. Don't loose heart if you have to fold the same corner several times. The minky fabric is somewhat thick and you cannot press it flat to help hold a crisp fold the way you would cotton. If you get too frustrated you could just fold the corner over straight and continue on, but it may be very bulky and hard to sew down, so give the mitered corner a try.
Step One: With one edge folded over as you come into the corner, and add a clip about one inch away from your fold to secure the minky. Bring the end of the folded edge of minky down to line up with the patchwork top on the opposite side of the corner forming an angle with the minky as shown here. One direction will be completely folded at this point and the next direction will have a little corner of the minky folded onto it.
Step Two: Now fold the raw minky edge into line up with the patchwork top as you have done on the other straight sides. Be careful here to get the fold to line up with the patchwork top with all of that extra bulk building in the corner. Fold the minky over again so that it sits a half inch over the top of the patchwork and is encasing all of the raw edges of both the minky and the patchwork top.
Step Three: Secure the fold with a straight pin right into the corner as close can to the edge of the minky. You can slowly slide this out as you sew and use it to control the fabric in the corner as you sew the minky edge in place. Continue folding and pinning the minky edge the rest of the way around the patchwork top, making sure to clip about every 2-3 inches. Now we are ready to top stitch the folded minky edge in place and finish our blanket!
With the walking foot attached to your machine, take your blanket and all of it's clips over to your sewing machine. Adjust your needle and foot so that you are sewing slightly inside the 1/2in fold of the edge of the blanket. Either straight stitch or zig zag stitch along the edge of the fold, removing the clips and pins as you go. When you get to the mitered corner, go slow. Keep your needle down as you pivot around the corner. Gently slide the pin away from the corner as you sew down the fold. I also like to back-stitch over the fold to help secure those thick layers and make sure I've caught everything. If you encounter the corner getting jammed in the walking foot, use a chopstick to help push the fabric through. Sew the entire folded edge of you blanket. Keep a little dish next to your sewing machine to drop the pins and clips into as you go so they are not all over the table- and floor! Back-stitch over your beginning and ending point and remove your blanket from the machine. I like to run my fingers and eyes all the way around the edge of the quilt to make sure everything has secured properly in place and I have not left any raw edges exposed. If you discover a mistake, just sew back over it. Remove any remaining pins and VOILA! you have completed your first Patchwork Minky Blanket!!
Congratulations! I knew you could do it! I am sure you'll be making this fun and fast project for so many awesome people in your life who are just going to swoon over your amazing work! Don't forget to take your beautiful blanket outside and get some great pictures of it before your gift it.
If you are not interested in sewing your own blanket at this time, I sell these wonderful blankets in my shop, La Rue de Fleurs. Each patchwork minky blanket is 100% handmade in my Pennsylvania home studio using the process as outlined above.
Purchase the Forest Friends Patchwork Minky Blanket or see my full Minky Blanket Collection HERE:
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and will consider supporting my work with either a purchase or by sharing links to any information that helps you create your own projects. All written work and photographs are original content and are copyright protected; kindly give due credit by linking back to my website if you use or share. If you have any questions about my process, please leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer. Best of luck to you on your creative journey! xoxo, Janice
(©2019, Janice Bailor // laruedefleurs.com)