Minky Quilt Backing - A Begginner's Guide

Minky Quilt Backing - A Begginner's Guide

Minky is one of the coziest, snuggliest backing fabrics out there but it can be a little intimidating if you have never used it for a quilt backing before. This post has all of the information you need to know before you back your first quilt with minky.

1. Minky stretches. Unlike quilting cotton, minky has quite a bit of stretch perpendicular to the selvage. If you are sending your quilt to a long arm quilter, they will most likely know how to deal with minky on their machine since it is a common backing fabric, but if you are quilting your project on your own, you will want to make sure not to stretch the fabric when basting. You want you fabric pulled taut (not loose) but not stretched. I know that lots of people like to use spray baste for minky, but I like to use pins. 

A Christmas Modern Postage Stamp Quilt - Kitchen Table Quilting
2. Minky sheds. SO MUCH. Try to avoid cutting the minky until it is absolutely necessary because it will shed all over the place. I wait to cut my minky fabric until I am trimming my quilted project — that is the very last moment. There are several things you can do to minimize shedding: put the fabric in the dryer on low heat for a few minutes, put tape along the edges of the fabric, vacuum your fabric, etc. Plus just keep that vacuum close by.
3. While you can piece minky for your quilt back, it is not very fun. The combination of the shedding + the stretching makes this challenging. If you want to piece your backing, make sure to use lots of pins and sew your fabric together with a stretch stitch. Unless your machine is straight-stitch only, most stitches that look like an elongaged zig zag stitch should work.
A Scrappy, Rainbow Mini Plaid-ish Quilt - Kitchen Table Quilting
4. Instead of piecing minky for your quilt back, I recommend buying 90" wide minky. It is much easier than picking your backing. I usually buy mine from the Fat Quarter Shop — they even have a few luxe minky varieties that are 90" wide. 
5. Do you need batting? Yes. Or no. It's up to you. You do not have to use batting when making a quilt with a minky backing, but the finished quilt will have a different feel. I prefer to use batting because everyone in my family likes the weight and thickness of minky + batting + quilt top.
Twin Diana Quilts - Kitchen Table Quilting6. What type of thread should I use? Poly thread is what minky manufacturers usually recommend, but I tend to break the rules and use cotton. The poly should hold up better to any stretching that occurs with the minky backing, but I have found that the quilt top stabilizes the stretching enough that cotton works just fine.
English Garden Quilt
7. What type of foot should I use when quilting? Walking foot!
8. Can you use luxe minky for a quilt backing? Yes! Here are a couple of shops where I have purchased mine: Feather Your Nest and CaliQuiltCo.
9. Should I prewash my fabric? I don't think this is necessary. Minky will not shrink when washed. If you are worried about chemicals in the fabric, you can prewash but I can't protect you from the fluff that will get everywhere.

Normally when I buy minky, I buy a 2 yard cut (for both the standard and the wide width). Here is the largest quilt size you can make with each type of minky without having to piece the minky for your quilt back. 

Note: each of the maximum sizes listed below includes 8" of extra fabric for both the length and width which is the preference of most long arm quilters. If you want to live life on the wild side and make your quilt a couple of inches bigger than the size listed, baste at your own risk!

Standard width — 58/60"

Minky Backing 1

With a 2 yard cut of fabric, you will have a piece that is 58" x 72". That makes your maximum quilt top size 50" x 64".

Wide width — 90"

Minky Backing 2

With a 2 yard cut of fabric, you will have a piece that is 72" x 90". That makes your maximum quilt top size 64" x 82".

Minky really isn't much more difficult to use than regular quilting cotton, but a little knowledge goes a long way. I hope that this encourages you to make your next quilt a little extra snuggly!

Comments 10

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Melanie on

When I used a Minky Dot on a quilt recently I pinned & used a light spray of Odif 505. I took the advice of Shannon & doubled pinned. Pin closely (head to toe) then go on a second row about 1/2in spaced. You can find this technique on Missouri Star Quilt YT Video ! Game changer 🙌

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Trina on

This is a wonderful tutorial. Do you use regular sewing pins or the quilting safety pins?

Dianne on

How do you finish the edges? Binding?

Shari on

I am a beginner and used Minky on the second quilt I made. Luckily it was a baby quilt size so I was able to have a pretty good outcome. All the info you have shared will make my next experience with Minky so much better especially the advice to keep a vacuum handy! Thank you for sharing your time and talents!

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