I choose my fabrics with love and care, looking for just the right color, feel and quality. I piece the tops of my quilts with love and I am fairly picky about my backs as well. Sometimes I use a one fabric backing, sometimes a super wide fabric and lately, I piece the backs. But you may have noticed that I skipped over the middle part, the batting. This year I want to learn more about batting, experiment with it and make more conscious decisions about which one I will use. Where to start, with research of course! And if I am looking all this up I might as well share it with all of you. Therefore, I present to you facts about quilt batting.
1. Definition – Batting is the middle layer, the inside of the quilt sandwich. It provides most of the insulation and plumpness of a quilt. It is also called wadding in England and Australia. I did not make that up, I looked it up right here!
2. History – Early on batting was hard to make as it came from the cotton plant or a sheep. Cotton bolls had to be picked, cleaned and carded and this kind of early batting may still contain some seeds which is really helpful to quilt historians for dating purposes. Read more on this site.
3. How many kinds – There are six types of batting. The original cotton or wool plus polyester, polyester and cotton blend, super expensive silk and the newcomer, bamboo. The first five are discussed on this sewing page.
4. How it is made – Batting can be bonded to keep the fibers together. Bonding can be heat or resin and each has its fans. It can also be made by punching it with many small needles which felts the fabric together. There is a third way, scrim, which is a thin layer needled punched into the batting. There are more details in this article.
5. Does batting have a beard – You have to hope that your batting does NOT beard because that means fibers from the batting are showing up on the fabric on top or on the bottom. This page explains that polyester batting is most known for this issue.
6. Which to choose – That is the question of the day, how do you know which to choose? Polyesters are fluffier (high loft) and cottons are denser (low loft) but this can differ by brand. My daughter remarked to me that the quilts I used to make when she was a child were fluffier than the ones I make now. She was right, I had switched from polyester to cotton. You can read about this in depth right here.
7. Size – Many long arm quilters buy batting by the bolt, other people buy them in packages. Make sure the batting is bigger than the quilt as it gets pulled in with the quilting and can “shrink” a bit. Bolts of batting are not sold big enough for a King sized quilt but you can get packages of it. I’ve bought two of them myself! (And I fear I will soon be buying another to replace our quilt.) Want more details? Click here.
8. Heat proof – If you are making pot holders you cannot get a batting that is heat proof but you can get one that is heat resistant, Insul-Bright. I learned the hard way that normal batting does NOT provide enough protection. Use a layer of the Insul-Bright and a layer of cotton batting.
9. Fusible batting – I love fusible batting for small projects like any bag or cover. I would never ever use it on an actual quilt, I just wouldn’t. You can read about another quilter’s fiasco with it on her blog.
10. Bunch of small pieces – Traditionally quilters would zig zag stitch smaller pieces of batting together but I never did. I didn’t like the feel of that seam.I have used fusible batting tape to put two pieces together and I love it. I don’t know if it lasts as I immediately quilt it and then it doesn’t matter. You can read about one of the products here.
11. What I use – I have bought two huge bolts of Hobbs 80/20 and I like it. Do I love it? Well, no, I don’t LOVE it but it’s the best I have found.
12. Odd batting uses – I have seen batting used for beards and snow at Christmas time but it is also used in Koi pond as part of the filter. No, I am not out of my mind. I saw a whole video on it. Check it out or just take my word for it.
I am going to try either wool or bamboo batting this year just because. You’ll be the first to know how it all turns out.
Trying new things makes me Sew happy!
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If you enjoyed reading these facts about batting you might like this fact post about scissors.