Choosing the Best Quilt Batting For Your Quilts
Picking a good batting is more important that you think. Nothing does more to determine the comfort and cuddliness of your quilt than the batting you use in it.
When you're just starting out in quilting, it can be very hard on your budget to have invested in all the tools and supplies you need, fabric for your first quilt, and then spend even more money for your batting.
Because of this, many quilters (and me included!) will choose to skimp on batting.
Here's my confession: for the first three years I quilted, I used only Wal-mart cotton batting. In all honesty this wasn't such a bad batting! It was 100% cotton and the quilts I used it in have a very nice drape to them, even now. Granted, I wasn't doing advanced quilting techniques, like trapunto, but I was needing to save money and $7 for a full sized batting was a pretty good deal!
Unfortunately Wal-mart decided to stop carrying my favorite batting and I suddenly had to face the unknown.
What batting is good? How much will I need to spend? What the heck does "drape" and "loft" really mean? What is the difference between all these different choices?!
Luckily I had a few friends who ran quilting shops locally and they were willing to give me a little primer on batting choices. Here's some basic answers to the questions above:
What batting is good? - There's no real way of knowing a batting is "good" or "bad" except to try it out for yourself. You need to decide what you like and what you dislike.
For example, there might be a batting that I absolutely love, but you will hate because it smells funny to you. See? The only way to know what works is to try it!
much will I need to spend? - This really depends on how
big of a quilt you're wanting to make. I personally like to purchase
king sized battings because I can usually make 2 to 3 medium sized
quilts from just one big piece.
There is such a thing as too cheap batting. A good example of this is the 100% polyester battings sold at Wal-mart. These battings are made very cheaply and will beard almost instantly inside your quilt. Unless you want a ruined project, don't make the price tag your #1 reason for buying it.
What is bearding?
You know the fuzz your husband gets on his chin after a day or two of not shaving? Bad battings will create the same effect on both sides of your quilt. Bearding means that the fibers in the batting have pull apart and are migrating through the fabric fibers of your quilt.
What you will see at first is little wisps of batting poking through the material. After you wash the quilt you may notice that the surface has started to get lint balls all over it like a fuzzy sweater.
Once this happens, there's not much you can do other than rip out all your quilting stitches, scrap the batting and quilt the whole thing over again. This is a good reason to go with a trusted brand of batting, or at least the advice of an experienced quilter.
What is drape? - Go into your bedroom and look at your bedspread. When you pick it up and lay it over your arm does it drape over you in a nice, soft, comforting way? Does it sit stiffly against your skin like stale bread?
This is what drape means, the way your quilt will feel after you've quilted it. Your batting choice, combined with how much quilting you do, will largely determine how your quilt drapes when it's done. Higher quality battings are able to take more quilting stitches and still retain their soft, cozy feel, whereas cheaper battings will just turn into cardboard.
What is loft?
Loft is another word for thickness. If you got out of quilting back in the 1970s and have just returned to Earth, you might be familiar with the high loft battings of yore. These 1" thick polyester monstrosities were largely reflective of the bad big hair of the time.
While loft might have lost some of its loft (ha! bad pun), it still basically means the same thing: the higher the loft, the thicker your quilt. The thicker your quilt is, the warmer it will be.
Now, don't go assuming that just because you're cold natured and have ice in your veins that you need to jump for the thickest batting on the playground. New wool battings have come out that are very thin, but are still super warm.
Keep in mind that the thicker your batting, the more trouble it will be to baste. Now that we have nice sharp, bent safety pins basting isn't the chore it used to be, but some battings are more resistant than others to letting your pins travel through easily.
Again, this is a small detail, but can lead to sore fingertips after forcing 300 safety pins in place!
What is the difference between Cotton and Polyester Battings?
Quite a lot actually. Cotton battings are obviously made from grown plant fiber that has been needle punched into place. Some cotton battings will shrink when they are washed, and some will not. The best thing to do is read the label and pay attention if the batting calls for any special steps before you use it in your quilt.
For me personally, I don't have time to fuss around washing my batting and don't want to even think of the trouble I would get it if I forgot about it in the washer!
are made from synthetic fibers that are also needle punched into place.
They typically don't shrink and can have a really beautiful drape
in the finished quilt. Unlike old poly bats, new polyester battings
breathe easily and make very comfortable quilts.
How Your Batting Determines Your Quilting
It's also important to note that battings are also marked with an amount of space you can leave unquilted.
For example, a batting label reads: strong enough to stitch up to 12" apart. This means that you can leave up to 12" square open space on this quilt between your quilting lines without worrying about the batting shifting or bunching after you wash it.
This gives you the opportunity to finish quilts much quicker than others. Back in the day, quilts were created from using loose, raw cotton that had to be densely quilted in order to keep it in place. This is why quilts needed to have 15 or more stitches per inch to keep the cotton from shifting and getting lumpy.
We're so lucky now to have the luxury of stitching our quilts so loosely! If you're wanting to finish a quilt quickly with the minimum amount of quilting stitches, then you should definitely look for a batting that can be left open 8" or more.
Final tips for picking the perfect batting - Ask yourself the following questions:
1. What will
this quilt be primarily used for?
2. What time
of the year do you want to use this quilt the most?
4. How much
quilting do you want to do?
5. What's your
Home | Online Quilt Shop| The Free Motion Quilting Project | Quilt Gallery | Lectures and Workshops
Articles and Videos| Order Policies and Shipping Rates | Contact Leah
DSD Online and content
Style Designs Online
© Day Style Designs: Choosing the Best Quilt Batting For Your Quilts