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Sewing with Plush Fabric, like Cuddle and Minky

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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 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.


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. 


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. 


Comments (41)

jeanette alvarez said:
jeanette alvarez's picture

I purchased sew lush fleece fabric with the intentions of making a bathrobe since I made one using a snuggle flannel and it turned out great.  The sew lush fleece fabric is beautiful and now I am afraid to start cutting the pattern.  My question is: Has anyone made a robe from this fabric and will it need to be lined ? Thank you in advance for any advice you may have to offer.

Grandma Debbie said:
Grandma Debbie's picture

I made robes this past Christmas for each of my 3 grandchildren from luxe fleece.  They turned out very nice and I did not line them.  I did end up with lint/fuzz everywhere during and after the project.  It does seem to dull the scissors and I started with a fresh sharp needle and slightly lengthened my stitch. Even though they turned out very nice, I was definitely glad to be done with the mess.   I did a little research on line for working with this fabric before I began which I think helped. Good luck.   

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

@jeanette - the plush fleece should be beautiful for a bathrobe. Just like flannel, it does have a definite nap, so make sure you cut all your pattern pieces with the nap running in the same direction. Regarding a lining, that is really based on personal preference and the type/brand of fleece you have. If you feel the wrong side of the fleece has a nice feel, you should be able to do without a lining; if you want a softer/silkier feel, you might need to add a lining. 

KimYukon said:
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Has anyone made a no-sew blanket with this fabric, where you cut the edges in strips and knot them?  I make lots of fleece blankets like that, but wondering if this stuff will just disintegrate...

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

@KimYukon - Luxury Plush is simply very high quality fleece - so, nope, it won't disintergrate. You might find the nap to be deeper than the economy fleece fabrics, but that's a good thing ... a bit messier when it comes to shedding with the cutting, but worth it in the end in terms of being soft and snuggly, right?!

Lisa V said:
Lisa V's picture

im sew thankful I looked this article up before starting to sew my Bubba the Giraffe cuddle project. Fingers crossed and any good mojo is welcome! Happy sewing everyone and Thank you for commenting on this article for I found most were questions I also had. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
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@Lisa - You are so welcome. We're glad to know our info and all the questions and answers here got you ready to go!

@constantleigh said:
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I sew blankets that have cuddle material on the top and bottom. I’m having a problem with the stiches being irregular . Randomly going from normal stitch size to a long stitch and back . It looks like it is skipping stiches . I use a Teflon pressure foot on an industrial machine. I have tried all kinds of needles , different settings same results . Any suggestions ?

SusieTN said:
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I looked up this article because I am frustrated. I purchased a beautiful lux seal fur. Unfortunately, I also put a thinner minky for the backing. I have a walking foot, but is still slips. After tearing out seam after seam, I finally basted it and had a better result. It is not perfect, but I am just telling myself it is a throw for my personal use, not clothing or drapes.

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

@SusieTN - Good for you for finally powering through! One thing we've done for some of our blankets is to add a layer of double face flannel between the plush/fleece layers. That helps counteract the effect of the two slick backings sliding against one another.

Sandy Sew said:
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Hi Liz... This is an awesome article... Your information & readers' tips were very useful. Thank you! I am sewing a child's bean bag chair cover (the Dog -McCalls 6625) with "ultra fluffy fabric with cute colored dots" from Joanns. It is 100% polyester. The lining will be Muslin. The appliqués for the dog's belly, muzzle, & eyes are fused to the fluffy 'fleece'. Any additional advice for fusing the fabric to the fluffy fleece?  

Sandy Sew said:
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Thank you for the bath towel tutorial link; it had wonderful ideas. I have been watching many of your sewing tutorials, saving them to pinterest for future sewing tips.  They are AWESOME! How to Applique Like a Pro was another helpful article. Sew4Home is a sewer's dream site. Patterns are cut out & I'm almost ready to start my Bean Bag Dog---want to try some samples. BTW....I loved the tutorial on French Seams & will experiment with it for the cuddle fleece, so it's not a mess when my daughter washes the cover of the chair. I'm very grateful for this site.

Sandy Sew said:
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Don't know what happened with my reply just a few minutes ago...all that extra information below my comment was not anything I typed.  Sorry!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
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@Sandy - Thanks for such a nice comment. We were able to delete all the styles above - no worries.

NanMA said:
NanMA's picture

I just love Minky and cuddle fabrics.  I've made several minke quilts over the past 6 years.  The best advice I found was, "pin, pin, pin like heck".  I did that but sometimes didn't keep up getting all the line out in time and occasionally broke a needle.  I discovered using the 10 basting stitch with much more regular foot, I could easily sew seams, remove the pins and restitch at 4 over the basted seams. This keeps everything pretty still. I do use a walking foot later when I quilt it. My patterns are just simple 5 to 8 inch squares joined to make approximately 40" d 40" quilts, the fabric itself creates the beauty!

Heather said:
Heather 's picture

Hi, wanted to comment on what a useful and informative article this is.  I've not used this fabric before, but it was recommended to me by the online store I normally use.  On the strenght of your article I will be placing my order.  I'm using the fabric instead of flannel for a quilt backing for a child.

Ceil said:
Ceil's picture

Just called the Shannon folks because you wrote above that the red might run.  They said it would not.  I wonder if you've experienced this or it's just a guess.  You have me in a panic about using the 5 yards of it I bought for the back of a quilt.

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

Ceil - If the Shannon folks have assured you that their Cuddle is color fast, I'd go with their word! You should be just fine. We always have to be extra careful and super generic when doing general tutorials like this one, which was the reason for the mention about red.

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

@Lisa - You're welcome. We aim to please. We hope you come back for more info and inspiration.

Josie O said:
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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:
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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. 


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

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

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



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.