I don’t know what got into me, but I recently had a desire to make a soft and snuggly blanket made out of Cuddle Fabric. Do you know what this magical stuff is? It’s fabric made of microfiber, with a nap that is ohhhhhhh so soft. The kind of soft where you want to pet it and rub your face all over it. The kind of soft where you think it might secretly be made of clouds and unicorn pelts. Is that a technology that exists? In any case, it represents a bit of a departure from my normal quilts made from cotton, so I thought I’d see what it was like if I combined the two products.
Thw specific type I used here was Cuddle Luxe by Shannon Fabrics. I found mine at Thread Count Fabrics which is the closest online store available to me (meaning: the goods would get here fastest!) but Funky Monkey Fabrics also has an impressive selection, and many other Canadian online retailers stock this goodness. American friends, I would assume that you can pick this up literally anywhere. You have so many more shopping opportunities! What I would not suggest is skimping on quality. There is a VAST difference between the high end products found in quilt shops and the stuff you can find at your local discount fabric store. Just buy the nice stuff – it’s expensive, but I promise you won’t regret it. Pinky promise.
What will you need to construct this object of beauty and softness?
- 1 yard of Cuddle fabric (bolts are usually 60″ across, and cost approx $21 CAD / yd)
- 1 yard of quality quilting cotton (bolts are usually 45″ across, and cost approx $15 CAD / yd)
- An iron. I have a 20-something year-old Sunbeam that I picked up at Zellers when I was in high school.
- A sewing machine. I rock a Janome 6700P – it’s fancy and expensive, and more than most people will need.
- A walking foot or even-feed foot (specific to your machine). This is a foot that will help feed both layers of fabric through the machine evenly. It’s a well-named tool.
- 100% cotton thread. Aurifil is my brand of choice, and I use colour 2000 in 99% of my projects.
- 90/14 Sewing machine needles. I would recommend a stretch needle to make your life easier.
- Rotary cutter. I love my Olfa splash in aqua, but they also come in purple and pink!
- Olfa endurance blades. Worth the extra cost. They last for-EVER.
- Self-healing mat. A 18″ by 24″ mat is a great starter size.
- A Creative Grids ruler. My rulers used to slip all over the place until I switched to this brand. The 8.5″ x 24.5″ ruler is the most-reached-for ruler in my sewing room.
- Alternately, you could use a marker and fabric scissors instead of a rotary cutter, mat, and ruler.
- Curved acrylic ruler (for trimming corners) OR a small dinner plate.
- Long, flat-headed sewing pins.
- A “That Purple Thang“. I felt ridiculous typing that, but it really is a handy tool for pushing out corners. A chopstick will also accomplish this task handily.
How do you put it together? Glad you asked!
- Pre-wash your cotton. I know you want to get sewing already, but this step is important. Cuddle is 100% polyester and won’t shrink, but cotton will. If you sew these two together without pre-washing, your end product will look all wonky. No one wants a wonky blankie! Even if you pass it off as “charming”, you’ll know that it could have been better. Treat your quilting cotton like a t-shirt – wash it in cold, medium or hot water, then dry it on hot. Don’t worry about all the frazzled threads when you pull it out of the dryer.
- Prepare the cotton. Press your cotton using your iron so that it lays nice and flat. Fold the cotton in half so that the selvedge (finished) edges are touching. Fold it in half again (in the other direction) so that ALL of the frazzly (new term) edges are touching. Square the edges by cutting at a 90° angle using your rotary cutter, mat, and ruler. Alternately, trace a straight edge and use your scissors to cut. What size should it be, exactly? Size doesn’t really matter here, as long as the cotton is narrower than your minky. You’ll confirm this in the next step, but first you need to round the corners using your curved acrylic ruler and rotary cutter, or by tracing the outline of a dinner plate and then cutting with scissors. Hot tip: if you have one, use a smaller rotary cutter on the curve. I have a 28mm Fiskars cutter that works a treat here.
- Make a blankie sandwich. Lay the gorgeous, fluffy, fuzzy Cuddle face-up on a large, flat work surface. My sewing room floor works well for this task. If you need to, take a moment to pet the Cuddle before you get on with the business of making this beauty. Place your trimmed cotton on top of the Cuddle face-down (so that you can’t see the “good side” of the cotton fabric). Scootch the cotton over so as to not waste any unecessary Cuddle. Make sure that the Cuddle is wider / larger than the cotton on all sides (you should be able to see fuzziness all the way around your cotton). If your cotton is too large, trim it down by repeating the cutting instructions in Step 2. Smooth out any wrinkles in the cotton, being careful not to pull or push the bottom layer. Cuddle is VERY STRETCHY. Use a light touch with the cotton.
- Secure the layers. Pin all the way around the outside of the cotton, every 1″ or so. This will seem like way too many pins. It’s not. Quick tip: longer pins with a flat head work well here, and will not disappear into the layers. I don’t have any of these useful pins, so I just use my short ones and try not to stab myself too much. Leave approximately 4″ of the sandwich unpinned.
- Trim the Cuddle. Use your fabric shears to trim around the pins. Try not to be alarmed by the fuzz that is now covering every square inch of your sewing space. Set your excess Cuddle aside – it can later be turned into a pillow cover. I’ll write a tutorial for that someday.
- Sew layers together. Using your all-important even-feed foot, a minimum of a 1/2″ seam allowance (I tend to use 5/8″ as it has a better chance of hiding the whole selvedge), and a long stitch length (3.0mm – 4.0mm), stitch all the way around the outside of your Cuddle sandwich. Backstitch at the start and finish, leaving an opening approximately 4″ in length (this opening will let you turn the blanket right-sides-out). Finger-press the cotton fabric back on itself for the length of the opening.
- Flip it. Reach inside the opening you created and turn the whole thing inside out by stuffing the blanket through the hole. This step reminds me of being a kid and popping my K-way jacket out of its little pouch. Or my Popple! I don’t think either of those things exist anymore…. But I digress. Now you have to smooth out the round corners by running either your That Purple Thang or a chopstick inside the two layers. If you don’t have a chopstick , you could use something else on hand that is long and skinny, but not sharp at the end (ie don’t use a seam ripper). It would be sad to cut the blanket this close to being finished!
- Finish it! Top stitch around the entire perimeter of the blanket making sure to stitch the opening closed. I use a 1/4″ seam and a stitch length of 3.0 mm. It might help you to pin the opening closed.
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