s4h-janome-skyline_s7-728x90-2017

Facebook Twitter Sew4Home RSS Feed Follow Me on Pinterest Instagram

Sew4Home

Sewing with Plush Fabric, like Cuddle and Minky

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version

If you've ever touched quality plush fabric, you've probably made this sound: "Ohhhhhh, ahhhhhh." You're also likely to have immediately stroked your cheek with this wonderfully soft fabric. Luxury plush goes by several names. Many people refer to it generically as Minky, but that is actually a brand name, much like Kleenex® is a brand name for facial tissue. For this article, we're referring to it as "Cuddle," which is the name given to the category by industry leader, Shannon Fabrics. The fabric gives a fabulous softness to a wide variety of projects, from toys to pillows to blankets and more (we loved using it for a soft fitted crib sheet). It's not a difficult fabric to sew with, but to create the very best results, it helps to have a few tips and tricks under your belt prior to jumping in. And doesn't jumping into a huge pile of Cuddle sound like a wonderful thing? "Ohhhhhh, ahhhhhhh!"

What is it and why is it so soft?

As soft to the touch as cashmere and mink, Cuddle is actually 100% polyester. The high quality and density of the nap is what distinguishes it from its standard fleece cousins. You can launder it over and over without compromising the softness, the brightness of its colors or the warmth. It traditionally comes 58" - 60"+ in width with the stretch along the width of the fabric. There is little to no stretch along the vertical (the grain line).

Types of plush fabric

The variety available is stunning. We could spend the whole article just showing you pretty pictures. Instead, the least overwhelming way to think about Cuddle is to organize it into four main categories: Solids, Prints, Embossed, and Double-Sided. Within each of the categories are dozens and dozens of options. We used a fun mixture of them all for our Cuddle Soft Easter Eggs.

Solids and Prints

Solids range from vivid brights to baby pastels. Prints come in classic dots and chevrons as well as designer prints. Shannon Fabrics has many beautiful collections from Premier Prints as well as designer Ann Kelle, who's playful owls and monkeys are well know from her Robert Kaufman collections. We found a pretty-in-pink paisley print we loved for our Throw with a Secret Pocket (shown above).

Embossed

Embossed Cuddle is a favorite. You get softness plus a subtle design that pops up from the nap, such as the classic dimple as well as hearts, stars, paisley, and more. We used it on our Playful Stuffed Crocodile to simulate his scales.

Double-sided

The selection within double-sided prints is not quite as varied with mostly solids and just a few prints. This is a great option to create a fast blanket with just a single bound layer, as we did with our Teen Pretty Pack Sleepover Blanket.

Washing and cutting

As mentioned above, Cuddle holds up beautifully through multiple launderings. Cold water washing is best, and do not use fabric softener. 

Pre-washing Cuddle isn't necessary because it doesn't shrink. The one caveat is red. Polyester fabrics seldom fade or run, but red is always the exception to any rule. 

Some people have expressed concerns about drying the embossed fabrics, saying it can cause the embossing to lose its texture. We haven't experienced this problem, but we do choose to tumble dry on a cool setting or even to simply hang dry.

A rotary cutter with a standard or pinking blade is the best choice for cutting. The pinking blade adds a nice finish to your seam allowance. If you are working with a Cuddle that has a very long fiber, you may want to follow the reccomendation for cutting faux fur, which is to cut from the back with scissors through just the backing. We have a full tutorial on Sewing with Faux Fur for more detail. 

You will get lots o' lint when you work with Cuddle. It's simply the result of working with the deep nap that gives the fabric its ultra softness. You can't eliminate it, but you can minimize it. Have a lint roller on hand and keep a small vacuum nearby for post-project clean up. You'll also want to pay attention to your machine. Lint can quickly build up around the needle and presser foot as well as in the bobbin case. Take the time to clean as needed along the way as well as after you complete your project

You can also take your larger cut pieces outside prior to sewing in order to give them a good shake. If you are sensitive to lint, make sure you don't have a fan running that can blow the lint around and consider using a dust mask. 

And my personal tip about lint: never wear all black when constructing a Cuddle project; you'll come away looking like you're turning into a stuffed animal!

Cuddle has a definite nap. You need to pay attention to the direction of the nap when cutting out your pieces so the nap is going in the same direction on any adjacent pieces. If your nap is going in opposite directions both the texture and the color will be different and ruin the look of your project. The image below is the same fabric with the nap brushed in two different directions. 

When cutting pattern pieces, some people prefer working with pattern weights over pins because pinning through thick Cuddle layers can distort a pattern. We haven't had a problem working with pins, but it is something to keep in mind. Another option would be to flip the pattern and trace it onto the back of the Cuddle, similar to how you cut a pattern on faux fur

Machine set-up and stitching 

The number one tool to have is a Walking or Even Feed foot. Cuddle can be slippery, and the best way to combat it is with this type of specialty presser foot. It has upper feed dogs built in that work in harmony with the lower feed dogs on your machine. Your layers are fed in unison from both the top and the bottom. 

As shown in the image above, we like to work with quilting gloves as an additional aid against the fabric slipping or sliding. 

Start a new project with a new needle. A 90/14 stretch needle is the top choice as it has a slight ballpoint tip. We've also used a 90/14 universal needle with good results.

Set-up the machine for a longer stitch length: 3.0 to 4.0mm. Test your stitching first on scraps to make sure the length and tension settings on your machine are generating the best results.

Thread the machine with all-purpose thread in the top and bobbin. Decorative or specialty threads will get lost in the nap of the fabric. 

We prefer to simply pin layers together, spacing them fairly close together – about every 1" for stability. Don't be afraid to use lots of pins. 

If you don't have access to a Walking foot or you simply find yourself getting frustrated with uncooperative layers, other options to hold things together include: hand-basting, using a fusible seam tape, such as Dritz Washaway Wonder Tape, or trying a basting spray. With a spray, make sure you protect the right side of the Cuddle prior to spraying.

Use a ½" seam allowance at a minimum. Cuddle has a tendency to curl, and the wider seam allowance helps stabilize it. It will also help decrease stretching. 

Cuddle doesn't fray so seam finishing isn't necessary, however, when mixing Cuddle with another fabric (see below), if the resulting seam allowance is too bulky, grade the seam by trimming away some of the Cuddle.

Topstitching a finished seam will also help reduce bulk and help the Cuddle lay flat. If you choose this option, always topstitch in the same direction as the nap

Combining plush fleece with another fabric type

It's common to combine Cuddle with another fabric. We often use a quilting cotton as a binding for our blankets. And, we've seen some gorgeous quilts lately that have chosen Cuddle as the quilt's backing. It adds a lovely softness, and if you chose an Cuddle with a short nap, the quilting design does show up, adding texture, beauty, and softness to the quilt back. 

The main thing to keep in mind is that these other fabrics will likely behave differently in the wash than Cuddle. Pre-wash all fabrics you'll be using in combination with the Cuddle to avoid uneven shrinkage when laundering the finished project. 

When stitching, work with the Cuddle on the bottom against the feed dogs for the smoothest movement through the machine. 

Another trick we've used on several blanket projects is to insert a layer of double-sided flannel between the layers of Cuddle. Because the back of the Cuddle is smooth and rather slick, when two layers are wrong sides together, as they would be for a blanket, they'll want to shift against each other. You can certainly add lines of quilting to hold the layers together, but sometimes that isn't the look you want, and with larger blankets  – unless you add lots of lines of quilting, the two layers can sometimes still droop or slide between the quilting. We've found the "grippyness" of the flannel helps keep the layers stable. 

Pressing

Cuddle is 100% polyester so it can melt if directly exposed to high heat. In most cases, the rule is to simply not iron it at all. If you feel you must press a seam, do it from the wrong side and use a pressing cloth. 

The embossed Cuddle is especially sensitive to heat as it is heat that created the embossed designs in the first place, so excessive heat can take that texture away.

Placing the Cuddle face down against a plush towel rather than directly on your flat ironing board also helps preserve the nap. 

Our thanks to Fabric Depot and Shannon Fabrics for providing some of the background tips for this article. 

Section: 

Comments (19)

Josie O said:
Josie O's picture

Hi! Thank goodness I found this thread! I'm making a simple blanket for my dog and did read that cuddle doesn't fray. So I was considering not finishing the edges - will this hold up after multiple washes? 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Josie - "Cuddle" - which is the brand name for Shannon Fabrics' luxury plush, doesn't fray, but you can get quite a lot of lint from the the cut edges as shown in the photo above. With traditional fleece - the kind with a super short nap, you can usually just cut the edge and not worry too much about anything other than the edges rolling a bit, But if you do have the thicker Cuddle or Minky fleece, you'll probably want to hem or bind the cut edge to keep the lint at bay.

GinaZ said:
GinaZ's picture

i am trying to make a large blanket 54x54, I have a purple paisley on the inside and an off white longer fur for the back and border. I used the "magic binding" technique but the blanket does sag and stretch and not look very good. So I ripped it out and need to resew. Do u have any suggestions to keep the border from twisting (I believe because of the weight )? Also my stitching is bunching up, not laying smooth. I do have the two smooth sides together. And I am using a stretch needle with a 4 stitch length. Any advice would be very much appreciated! This is a gift for a woman who has beat panceatic cancer, so I would like it to look good!

thank u for your time!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@GinaZ - We haven't used the "magic binding" technique, so we can't advise you if there are any issues with that. Two things to consider: 1) I believe that is usually a pretty narrow binding method since it's usually done for quilts; it  may not be appropriate for such a large blanket in the heavier plush fabric, and 2) you are likely to need some quilting stitches through the center of the blanket (through both layers in other words) to keep the layers from shifting. We have a trick of layering double-sided flannel between layers of Minky to help with shifting, but with something this large, even that wouldn't be enough. Below is a link to a large fleece blanket we did. You might take a look and consider the more traditional blanket binding and the quilting stitches. 

http://www.sew4home.com/projects/bed-linens/soft-elegance-sherpa-cuddle-...

David V. said:
David  V.'s picture

I tried using a very nice minky fabric with a 12mm pile to it..  Any suggestions on how to limit or reduce the stitch line that appears on the pile side? (the other side was a no-pile acrylic fleece). In some applications, it would look nice, but I'd at least like the option on how to let the 'flow'/direction of the fur, cover up the stitch, when sewing across the 'grain' of the pile/fur..  thanks!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ David - are you talking about topstitching across the fur? If you are making regular seams, the steps above should conceal them. Topstitching is less common on plush fabric and is best done either just in one direction, with the nap,  You could also pull back the nap as you sew, then brush it back into position after you're done.

Sherry Kelly said:
Sherry Kelly's picture

I have found that after cutting, throwing the pieces in the dryer with a damp towel for a few minutes greatly reduces lint. 

Also, when using small pieces, like for a stuffed animal, I only cut the top piece. Then, pin this to the bottom piece, sew the seam and trim bottom to fit the top. This eliminates the slippage problem.

I LOVE this stuff, use it often!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Sherry - Great tip! Thank you so much for sharing 

Rosemary Bolton said:
Rosemary Bolton's picture

This is superb information. I will print this. Gosh, it seems the choices for colors and designs with this fabric is just growing. I have not..... no, wait, I have, I made little jackets for the girls at Lizzie's wedding three years ago, and Oh also a super feminine and fancy wrap for Lizzie, with a genuine imitation pearls :-D and  "diamond" brooch looking thing, in the front clasp . Oh my, I agree, it was a mess. I just kept my minivac close at hand and vacuumed and tried to control the mess But the results are fantastic.Anywho, I really could have used this back then haha

Now I have a grand baby and I want to make her all sorts of stuff!

Thank you so much for the informative guide. Yes, that orange puss is so sweet. I have always had Cornish Rex kitties, and 6 years ago, I brought home a "red mackarel tabby" and names him Miles.

Happy Week-end

Rosemary Bolton said:
Rosemary Bolton's picture

Oh, the type of minky I used was very similar to the pink in the upper right side of the second photo. Very Classy :-D

and to add to prewedding frenzy I backed all of the jackets wraps and stoles (I made for the grammas) with satin.

Oh what fun haha

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Rosemary - all of that sounds so fun! 

Christina in FL said:
Christina in FL's picture

Wonderful tips!  I have  yet to make anything with such fabric yet wonder about seaming for a quilt back on a longarm.  I'd like to run the seam top to bottom to minimize stretching as the quilt is rolled up on the take up bar.  I'm trying to find a way to minimize the seam of the two lengths coming together.  Any insights or suggestions?  

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Christina - I don't have any additional tips other than what's above, but one of the great things about sewing with this type of fabric is how nicely the seams disappear into the nap. If you're using an embossed with a very directional design (like a stripe or chevron), you may one to carefully fussy cut so the raw edges that come together will match up and the motif will appear uninterrupted. 

Jane Coombs said:
Jane Coombs's picture

One of the things I learned from the National Quilters premium videos, which I subscribed to at a reduced rate by being a Sew4home subscriber, was another approach to working with minky/cuddle.They suggested that you starch it.When the project is completed it should washed to remove the starch.

Belated thanks for the great deal on those videos.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Jane - That's an interesting tip - thanks for adding!

Anonymous said:
Anonymous's picture

@Liz @sew4Home My personal fave photo is the kitty! #catsonCuddle

xo

Ellen 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Ellen - thanks so much - kitties definitely love Cuddle!

Nancyjc said:
Nancyjc's picture

I'm thinking of making housecoats for my niece and nephew out of Minky because it's so soft and cuddly.  Would it work for this purpose?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Nancyic - Yes! It would be great for that type of project.

Add new comment

*Sew4Home reserves the right to restrict comments that don’t relate to the article, contain profanity, personal attacks or promote personal or other business.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.