What is batting and what does it do for me?
Quilt Batting is the middle of your “quilt sandwich”. It is also known as quilt padding or quilt wadding. Batting is the insulating layer that provides warmth, along with dimension or thickness. In my “quilt batting tutorial” I hope you learn a little more about batting and the types of batting available, along with a little bit of history about quilts.
Over the years many options for quilt batting have developed. Some antique quilts made in the early 1800s have worn-out blankets or older quilts as the batting layer, quilted between new layers of fabric. You can choose batting from a variety of fibers, colors, sizes and thicknesses. Always read the package directions, especially for care, shrinkage and how far apart the manufacturer recommends for maximum quilting distance.
The thickness of the batting. This will affect the flatness or puffiness of the finished project. A thin, light weight batting will make a quilt easier to sew when compared to a heavy batting. As it is important to have small, even stitches over the whole quilt, it is much easier to go through a thin batting than a thick batting, but you must think about the way your quilt will look when completed. With tied quilts, extra loft is nice to have, with hand quilting a thinner loft is much easier to quilt.
Types of Batting
Fiber content can be cotton, polyester, wool, silk, alpaca, and now, bamboo. Cotton, cotton/polyester blends and pure polyester are the battings you see most often. You also have fusible, non-fusible and needle punched.
There are many advantages to using cotton. Cotton batting doesn’t slip around as much during quilting. Some cotton battings are bonded, a process that manufacturers use to keep the fibers together so the fibers do not shift or beard. Cotton breathes, is very versatile, and it is preferred for traditional and heirloom quilting and softens with age. Many cotton battings shrink. Consider washing before quilting if the batting contains scrim or other binders. Cotton is considered low loft batting and is heavier than polyester. Cotton is available in natural, black and bleached.
Shrinks and is easy to quilt through for hand quilting. However, it does not breathe like natural fibers, so you can over heat when using. Polyester fibers are stronger. Polyester also holds its shape better, even when washed repeatedly. It also resists mold and mildew. Polyester is available in white and black.
Quantity content of cotton to polyester varies from brand to brand. Some have as little as 50% cotton. This type of batting can be used for both machine and hand quilting. The loft may be higher than in a 100% cotton batting. Cotton/Poly blends are available in white and black batting
This is a very warm batting. It provides the warmth without the weight. It absorbs moisture and is great for use in cool and damp climates. Many hand quilters like to use wool batting. It can be used year round; however, some people are allergic to wool. It is more expensive than cotton or polyester, but it is now manufactured to be washable. Wool is available in black and natural.
The most expensive batting but wonderful to work with. It is a good alternative to wool and down. Most silk battings have some polyester in them to stabilize the silk and reduce the shrinking. Silk breathes well and is washable. Silk is available in natural and black.
A blend of 50% naturally anti-bacterial bamboo fiber and 50% organic cotton. This unique bamboo/cotton blend is luxuriously soft and supple to the touch with excellent loft and a thin scrim that makes it perfect for machine quilting.
This is a newly manufactured batting. It is very similar to wool and is also a very warm batting. The manufacturer is changing the bonding method so that this type of batting can be washed like the wools. Alpaca is available in natural and black.
Bolt or Package
Batting off the bolt usually does not have folds (except the center fold). Batting that is pre-packaged may have some folds.
To get rid of folds there are two different methods:
1) gently remove the batting from the package and unfold. Letting the batting lay out on a flat surface overnight before basting or pinning your quilt sandwich helps remove most fold lines.
2) gently remove the batting from the package, unfold and place in the dryer. Using a NO-HEAT setting, turn on and run the dryer for a few minutes. Most of the folds should come out.
Picking the Batting
If your quilt top is 100% cotton you probably want 100% cotton or 80/20 batting. You want to insure that the fibers shrink at the same rate. Batting is a preference, so use what you feel comfortable with, there are no hard rules.
Use batting that is bigger than the quilt top and smaller than the backing. That way if anything shifts, you will still have batting all the way around the edge of the quilt and in your binding.
Craft - 46” x 36”
Crib – 60” x 46”
Twin – 63” X 87”
Double – 78” X 87”
Queen – 84” X 92”
King – 100” X 92”
Using Left Over Batting
If you have leftover batting from previous quilts you can combine them and make a mixed piece. This is also used for very, very large quilts. Lay out the left over pieces of batting, and overlap the edges. Cut a wavy line over the lapped portion. Remove the excess, then, using a loose stitch, hand stitch the pieces together; join the pieces going back and forth along the join line. DO NOT overlap the batting because it will cause a double layer of batting and be much more difficult to quilt OR sew a seam on the sewing machine.
I suggest using Heat Press Batting Together - it is a great product and is woven so it can be used for hand or machine quilting. See the video from my products pages.