A Guide To Plush (A Guide To Minky Fabric)

I wrote this article a few months ago and was originally published in the September issue of Sewing World Magazine but I’m sharing it here for those that missed the publication at the time (did you know that Sewing World Magazine have been around for over 20 years? Impressive!) Super proud that this was the first in a series of fabric guides I wrote for them, which I thoroughly enjoyed (#ExcitedMuch). I hope you find it helpful and feel free to ask any questions, I’ll surely do my best to answer them.

Plush : A Fabric Guide

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The name of my shop “Plush Addict” has to be testament to how much I love this kind of fabric. Once you’ve stroked it I promise you will feel the same! If you’re not familiar with it you’re in for a treat as plush fabric is a buttery soft, fluffy fabric with a short pile and is incredibly tactile. The divine softness of the fabric lends itself very well to children’s makes such as soft toys and baby blankets but it can be used in a plethora of other places such as clothes and home furnishings. You might have heard it called “minky” before now, but in the UK it’s no longer possible for the fabric to be sold under that name because of a trademark issue and it’s becoming better known as plush or cuddle fabric [see this post for further information about minky fabric name change.] 

The popularity of plush fabric has been growing over the past few years; this is evident as more of the larger fabric brands are bringing out collections. From Timeless Treasures we have “Softie”, from Riley Blake we had “Dreamy”, Michael Miller recently introduced “Cozy”, don’t the names sound inviting? They remind me of snuggling under a blanket on the sofa sipping a hot chocolate, and that’s exactly the feeling that plush fabric gives you – a little bit of “Mmmm, lovely!” It’s fantastic that some of the big brands are waking up to the wonder of plush and providing more choice, however the unrivalled King of the Cuddle has to be Shannon Fabrics. They have a mind-boggling selection of plush fabrics available and I’m very proud to stock a huge selection of the Shannon range. Shannon plush really is the premium version of this fabric and the quality is unrivalled. It has a gorgeous sheen and the hand is quite exquisite.

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The most popular types of plush are smooth and dimple (or bubble) and we carry all of Shannon’s amazing 85 colours so you’re sure to find the perfect colour to suit your taste and project. There is also a huge choice of patterned plush from chevrons to florals to charming children’s prints.

There is a textured range of plush which include burn out prints such as chevrons, stripes and florals, a delightful rose swirl which is very popular for blankets as it has a deep, cosy pile. There’s even a fabric called shaggy which has a 25mm pile and makes amazing monsters, see the fabulous monster rucksack we made in this fabric!

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Composition and Handling

The fabric itself is polyester so it’s a dream to launder and doesn’t require any pressing. It has a right and a wrong side, the short, fluffy directional pile is the right side and there’s a smooth knit on the wrong wide and it has a cross grain stretch. The pile on these fabrics means once cut there will be some shedding, but once that’s shaken away the edges won’t fray and edges can be left unfinished without the worry of any unraveling. The pile and the stretch can prove tricky under the needle but with the right management there isn’t any reason why a beginner sewist can’t be successful.

Top Tips For Sewing With Plush

If left to it’s own devices plush can slip and slide on your machine giving you an unsightly finish so it needs a bit of special handling. If you follow these simple tips you are lining yourself up for success and it really is so scrumptious it’s worth the effort! My top tips are:

  • Pin, pin and pin some more – I find that either pinning on a diagonal or horizontally to the edge helps to stabilise the fabric, I place pins about every 1cm. Wonderclips are also a fantastic gadget to invest in for sewing plush and keeping it in check.
  • Use a longer stitch length – I find a length of 3 to 3.5 works very well, longer for the deeper pile fabrics such as shaggy.
  • Use a walking foot – this will help feed the top and bottom fabrics through your machine evenly at the same speed. A walking foot will give you the best results but if you don’t have one you can reduce the pressure on your presser foot, pin lots and sew slowly.
  • Keep the grain lines the same – this will help combat any issues encountered with the pile and stretch
  • Use a ball point needle – I find a 90/14 ballpoint needle works well

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Embroidering on plush fabrics

Machine embroidery is getting more popular and embroidery on plush fabrics and looks wonderful. You can embroider soft toy faces or add a commemorative message on to baby blankets for a special keep sake. You need to use a water soluble topper when embroidering fabrics with a pile to ensure the fabric doesn’t poke through your stitches. We stock Avalon water soluble topper which is perfect for the job and dissolves in cold water. I would recommend using a medium weight cut away stabilizer and using some temporary adhesive spray such as 505 spray to ensure your stabilizer and fabric don’t move in the hoop. The key to successful embroidery is to ensure you don’t stretch the plush fabric in your embroidery hoop and to make sure it’s your stabiliser that is drum tight.

I hope this guide helps has enlightened you to the joys of sewing with plush and wish you many happy makes from this wonderfully addictive fabric.

About me: A self confessed fabric addict, I adore fabric of all kinds and the journey of imagination and possibilities it presents. When I’m not managing my web shop www.plushaddict.co.uk I like to write tutorials and fabric guides for my blog and somewhere I squeeze in looking after my hubby and gorgeously funny daughter!

And if you have any tips of your own to have then do let me know!

 

 

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